Paul Wertsch, MD
Paul Wertsch, MD, is the WisMedPAC Board treasurer and has been on the board for more than 20 years. Dr. Wertsch shared some thoughts about being politically active.
How long have you been involved with politics?
I grew up in a politically mixed family. My mother was an Irish Catholic genetic Democrat and my father a German businessman Republican. In high school I discovered the Republican corn roast was a more fun place to talk to politicians.
In college at UW, in the ‘60s, with the war protests, civil rights and the free love movement raging, I found the "left" was more exciting – and had the more interesting girls! I also learned about crowd psychology and how a demonstration could turn into a riot without the participants being fully aware and how a person can act in a way they would have not voluntarily chosen before mob mentality takes over. This was frightening, in retrospect.
How does being politically active make you a better physician?
After residency I joined the working world and then set up my own clinic. In the ‘70s I learned the dangers and difficulties of doing business with high inflation and very high resultant interest rates. I saw the government trying to do some good things but often inadvertently causing a lot of problems by their actions. I saw lofty goals and inner hypocrisy. Attempts to help people created levels of dependency in them. Efforts to make the world better for everyone, often only really making the world better for the already well-off who were contracted to make the world better. I became disillusioned.
What's your advice for physicians on how to get more involved in issues that affect their profession?
Almost every politician I ever met I liked on a personal level. Many were good people trying to do a good job. When they gathered together in political parties things seemed to change.
So, this is a weird way to explain why I am very supportive of the Wisconsin Medical Society's Political Action Committee (PAC). Our government runs our cities, state and country. We need to elect the best possible people to make our laws and policies. I rely on our Political Action Team to vet the candidates. We need to know which candidates of either party can help advance our vision of what needs to be done. We need the help of our talented professionals to communicate with our politicians to let our elected officials know how proposed laws may conflict with our policies and how to make the laws better, and to get us up to speed so that we can speak before our elected officials in order to inform them of what is important for the health of our state and country.
I like our WisMedDirect conduit in which I can direct my political contribution to the candidate of either party that I want to support.
I like the PAC function in which I trust our leadership to send support to the leadership of each party to gain their ears so that we have a way to let them know what the state's physicians and medical students think will help or hinder the health of our state. I personally hate to send money to a political party, but I realize one party is ruling the government now and the other will rule in the future. We need to keep lines of communication open with all of them. Our PAC allows me to do this without feeling bad about myself.
So, open your wallet or purse and send money to our WisMedPAC. Channel any money to the candidates you support through the conduit so you and WisMedPAC gets credit and an ear of the candidate.
Send more money to the PAC to allow us to work in the imperfect world of governing our state and country. This will allow our professional staff to enter the sausage factory of politics in order to get our voices heard. They have hardened their stomach and their souls to work in the sausage factory allowing us of a more delicate constitution the ability to just enjoy the finished sausage. Enjoy your bratwurst.
Other than politics, what else interests you at the moment?
For fun I sing in the Madison Männerchor, a German choral group formed in 1852. We sing mostly German songs and taste German Bier periodically. We do occasionally discuss politics while drinking the German Bier – after all of the weapons have been locked up.
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