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Remember this when you vote: Together we can do anything

Gil Yanuck

For too long Washington politicians have failed to address our health care and financial security worries. Unfortunately, a great majority of Americans are but one major illness away from financial disaster. We all grew up believing that hard work would lead to lifetime financial security or, as we called it, the American Dream. Unfortunately, recent Wall Street events have awakened all of us with the news that U.S. retirees have seen their nest egg reduced by approximately $2.7 trillion.

So what do we do about this?

To start, in early 2007, AARP, The Business Roundtable, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) joined together to create “Divided We Fail,” a collaborative effort to raise the issues of health care and financial security to a priority position for elected officials and opinion leaders throughout the country. This group of strange bedfellows agreed that our nation’s health care system was broken and that the American Dream was eroding as financial stability and security became harder for many Americans to obtain.

In April of 2007, the AARP Nevada State Office kicked off the state-based Divided We Fail initiative here in Carson, with Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus and Speaker of the Assembly Barbara Buckley standing together and addressing the need for bipartisan solutions to our nation’s health care and financial security challenges.

Early in the campaign, many said that the dissimilar groups that made up the Divided We Fail Coalition would not be able to find common ground. Surprising everyone, the coalition has gone so far as to endorse several pieces of federal legislation.

The Divided We Fail initiative has resonated with everyday Americans too. Nationwide, more than 750,000 people, including over 14,000 Nevadans, have signed the Divided We Fail pledge to demand action and answers from our elected officials on these two critical domestic issues. Now the focus is on local opinion leaders and government officials.

In Carson City, the Board of Supervisors recently signed a proclamation to stand with AARP on these issues, becoming one of the first local government organizations in Nevada to do so. The Chamber of Commerce is co-hosting an Opinion Leaders Forum with AARP in late October to bring the voices of business and community leaders to the table to be heard. Already, Nevada’s entire Congressional delegation has either signed the Divided We Fail pledge or written a letter of support to find bipartisan solutions to these concerns. AARP is also working with the Carson City Chamber to conduct research exploring how local business is preparing for the shift in demographics of the work force as part of its effort to address common sense financial security issues.

AARP is not only concerned with the issues associated with seniors. AARP will be presenting information to Carson High School’s government classes and at Western Nevada College on the importance of citizen engagement and grassroots campaign issues. A Town Hall meeting, open to the public, is being hosted by AARP at 7 p.m. on Oct. 30 at the Gold Dust West (RSVP 1-877-926-8300) to capture the views and ideas of the people of Carson City who have not yet had the opportunity to voice their concerns.

We will participate in the Nevada Day Parade on Nov. 1 by walking the parade route with Champ, our purple half-donkey, half-elephant who symbolizes the bipartisanship we need to adopt.

Politicians in Washington have been content to stall, argue, criticize and blame each other rather than solving these problems. The gridlock needs to end now. Divided We Fail. Together we can do anything.

* Gil Yanuck is an AARP volunteer Chamber Ambassador and Divided We Fail Champion for Change who lives in Carson City. For more information about Divided We Fail, visit http://www.dividedwefail.org. For more information visit http://www.aarp.org/nv.