When Bryan Hambley, MD, decided to attend a Donald Trump rally earlier this year, he had no idea it would lead to forming an anti-Trump physicians group and a protest march at this year’s Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland. But that’s where Hambley finds himself as the convention gets underway.
Dr. HambleyWhen Bryan Hambley, MD, decided to attend a Donald Trump rally earlier this year, he had no idea it would lead to forming an anti-Trump physicians group and a protest march at this year’s Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland. But that’s where Hambley finds himself as the convention gets underway.
In an interview with Medical Economics Hambley, 31, an internal medicine resident at a Cleveland hospital, described how he and many of his colleagues were appalled by Trump’s anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric and demeaning statements about women. So in March, when Trump addressed a rally in Cleveland, Hambley and a friend decided to act. They went to the rally and chanted anti-Trump slogans when the candidate began to speak. Security guards quickly escorted them out.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. As they were being led out of the rally, one of the guards mentioned that his father had been treated by a cardiologist who was a Muslim following a heart attack.
“It was one of the most collegial escorts you could ask for,” Hambley laughs. “But it was also a moment for us realizing that other people know we’re in this together, that Muslims come to this country and contribute, that Mexicans contribute, that strong women are a vital part of our hospitals and our society.”
The next goad to action came in May, when Trump clinched the GOP nomination with a primary victory in Hambley’s home state of Indiana. Hambley and his wife, Jana-also an Indiana native. and a fifth-year surgical resident-watched the returns on TV. “And we came to the realization that Trump could win, could actually become president,” he recalls.
That realization led to a round of meetings with friends, other physicians, and nurses with a view to organizing a protest at the convention. Those meetings led to the founding of Stand Together against Trump, or STAT.
Next: March isn't against the Republican party
The group’s original strategy, Hambley explains, was simply to be part of what they assumed would be a large protest march on the final night of the convention, when Trump is scheduled to accept the Republican presidential nomination.
“But we couldn’t find that group,” he says in amazement. “No one was organizing anything, so we decided, ‘OK, we’re going to launch this thing and hopefully we’ll find someone to come take it over.’ And no one did.”
Further reading: What does the future hold for the Affordable Care Act?
Hambley emphasizes that the march is not against the Republican party. “It’s about racism, sexism and Trump’s comments about Muslims,” he says. “We want the message to be something that a Republican who wants to walk out [of the convention] on Thursday night would feel comfortable to be at that protest.”
Joining STAT in the protest will be an assortment of group ranging from Historians against Trump to Codepink to Single Payer Action Network Ohio. In all, Hambley predicts attendance at the march to be “in the high hundreds or low thousands.”
As for STAT’s future beyond the RNC, Hambley says that remains cloudy. The group will reconvene a week or so after the convention to decide on its next move. “We felt we just didn’t have the bandwidth to even start thinking about what’s next until after the convention,” he says.
Despite physicians’ historical preference for Republican presidential candidates, Hambley says his group hasn’t encountered any resistance from other doctors. He thinks that’s due to the nature of medical practice.
“We’ve all been in that tough spot where it’s two in the morning in the ICU and you have a crashing patient in front of you, and you call your friend who’s the GI or cardiology Fellow on call, and he may be an immigrant or Muslim. And they save you, and they save your patient,” he says. “So when anyone attacks an entire religious or ethnic group, I think we remember those moments when someone helped us out of a tough spot. And we don’t want our colleagues talked about like that. I think that’s why the physician community has been so supportive.”