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Where We Stand: Now the Work Begins

Do you remember The Candidate, the 1972 movie with Robert Redford? Redford’s character gets so caught up in a campaign for the U.S. Senate that when he wins the election, he turns to his campaign manager and asks, “What do we do now?”

I recently had a similar question from a dedicated Divided We Fail volunteer who has spent many hours bird-dogging the candidates and engaging his friends and family on the issues of health care reform and financial security. He said, “The election’s almost over, what are we going to do then?” I told him, “That’s when the real work begins.”

Through our Divided We Fail initiative, we and our allies have spent the last two years building a public demand for action and pressuring the candidates—presidential and congressional—for their commitment to meaningful, bipartisan action on our important issues. The 2008 election merely marks the end of the first phase of our effort.

Now, a new phase begins. We have to work hard to ensure that health care and financial security remain in the forefront and don’t get lost among all the issues that could be priorities of the new administration and Congress. Our efforts are all the more urgent because of the country’s economic crisis.

We also must hold the new president and all members of Congress accountable, asking them to reaffirm their commitment to bipartisan action and to get to work developing legislation. We will need to mount a massive grassroots effort—online and on the ground—to remind our newly elected officials that our members, and all Americans, are paying attention and expecting action.

Solutions come with tradeoffs and tough choices, and letting problems fester is costly and unacceptable. We want you to join the national discussion on determining the solutions. What do we need to do to rein in soaring health care costs and make health insurance affordable for everyone? How can we make it easier to save for retirement, and how will we make Social Security solvent for our kids and grandkids? We need your point of view.

As health and financial proposals are developed and ideas turn into legislation, AARP will be at the table helping shape both the policy and the approach to ensure commonsense bipartisan proposals. Our members and volunteers will be critical to the success of our efforts. Many powerful groups with substantial resources will be lined up to oppose change.

AARP doesn’t have a political action committee, nor do we support candidates or political parties. Instead, our power resides in our members and our committed activists in every state. We’ll need to demonstrate that power during this critical period. Partisanship in Washington isn’t going to just evaporate. We need to break through the gridlock that has plagued our political leaders and demand meaningful change that will benefit all generations.

What do we do now? We get moving. We lead. We help find practical solutions to bring all Americans high-quality, affordable health care and financial security for their lifetimes. Please get involved. Start by going to DividedWeFail.org. Together we can get it done.

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