Political apathy in the nursing profession can be attributed to numerous factors, including a lack of knowledge of the political process and public policy formation, feelings of powerlessness, and a perceived ethical conflict between professional values and political involvement. Nursing as a profession has arrived at a prestigious point in development where the word "nurse" now is synonymous with the words "patient advocate," thus giving the specialty an important image to fulfill. The public, however, will not recognize nurses as patient advocates until they begin to champion public health and social issues at the Institutional, community, and national levels. Numerous changes in health care delivery methods, together with politicians' increased involvement in health care development, have left nurses in a precarious position even though nurses are the largest group of health care workers in the United States. In this article, the first of a two-part series, the lack of knowledge of the political process and feelings of powerlessness in the nursing profession will be examined, along with their effects on political involvement among nurses.