On Thursday, the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare annual conference begins—one of the most important events for decision makers in this field. All such conferences have big headliners to drum up interest. Oftentimes these are consultants/book authors who try to apply their leadership strategies to behavioral healthcare management and, while interesting, their presentations sometimes have little direct relevance to the field. Yet among the big wigs at this year's show are Michael and Kitty Dukakis, advocates for substance abuse treatment.
They are an interesting choice for an election year, considering that 20 years ago Michael Dukakis lost to Bush Number One. I'm hoping that their talk might inspire some of their friends involved in contemporary politics to stop by the National Council conference in the future. Surely Obama and Clinton are seeking his insight and maybe even support (I have no idea, though, if Michael Dukakis is a superdelegate; Howard Dean and I are still trying to figure out how that whole mess works). Although Michael Dukakis is hardly a political juggernaut, his interest in the field—and his presumed connections to the political scene—could prove to be very valuable if a Democrat takes the White House. Wouldn't it be great if the President of the United States visited the conference some day? He/she should, after all, considering the attendees' role in service delivery. Let's work toward having more important political movers and shakers attend the field's biggest show. I hope in 20 years I'm writing about the President attending this event—instead of John Kerry. P.S. I'll be blogging on-site, so if you can't make it to Boston, visit
www.behavioral.net for some perspectives and photos.