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Government & Elections
by William D. Novelli, Chief Executive Officer, AARP Bulletin, November 17, 2006
Throughout this election season, we’ve been telling people loud and clear: “DON’T VOTE.” Is AARP really telling people not to vote? Of course not. What we are telling people is, “Don’t vote … until you know where the candidates stand on the issues.”
Voters have wearied of the political song and dance that many candidates do in trying to avoid talking about the issues that truly matter. But on AARP’s election website at www.dontvote.com, you’ll find the positions, given directly to us, of candidates running in more than 1,300 federal and state races on such important concerns as lowering prescription drug costs, making Social Security solvent and extending affordable health care to all Americans.
People tell us they’d rather elect a candidate who agrees with them on key issues than just someone with a good personality, a good image. At the same time, it can be difficult for voters to find out where candidates really stand on the issues. At dontvote.com, we’re putting useful information on critical issues at your fingertips so you can make an educated decision at the polls on Nov. 7.
AARP is fiercely nonpartisan. We don’t have a political action committee. We don’t contribute to candidates or political parties, and we don’t support or oppose candidates for public office. We’re not concerned about who wins elections; we’re concerned about what gets enacted into law. Our job is simply to inform voters so they can make up their own minds in the voting booth.
People 50-plus, and especially AARP members, are very diligent about performing their civic duty. In the last midterm elections, in 2002, 60 percent of those ages 55 to 64 and 65 percent of those 65 to 74 voted. About 90 percent of AARP members are registered to vote.
There is a great deal at stake this November. Americans of all generations are worried about the present and the future. They worry about retirement, health insurance, care for aging parents, sending kids to college, job security. The American dream itself is under attack. People want to be heard. They want their peace of mind back. As AARP members, we have within us the power to help restore that peace of mind by reinventing America for the 21st century—to make our government, our social structures, our institutions and our political systems work more effectively for future generations. We can demonstrate that power at the polls. But to really change the country—to make it better for our children and grandchildren—we have to hold our elected officials accountable every day to carry out promises they made on the campaign trail. That means we have to continue to be diligent, active participants in our democracy by staying on top of the issues that matter to us the most and by contacting our elected representatives to let them know we’re paying attention. And, if they don’t keep their promises, we may need to un-elect them the next time they run.
Our civic duty hardly ends in the voting booth. Living in a democracy is a full-time job.
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