November 13, 2012
The 2012 election is over. President Obama will return to the White House. A Republican majority -- slightly smaller majority, but majority nonetheless -- will return to the House of Representatives. And a slightly more Democratic majority will return to the United States' Senate. So what has changed?
Four years ago, the theme of President Obama's campaign was "Yes, we can!" The message was about hope and change. I don't know what happened, but somewhere along the line what started out in Iowa as "Yes, we can!" turned into "Yes, he can!" the day after Inauguration, in Washington, D.C. and across the country. Like Elvis, we left the building.
This amazing experiment called America is a democracy -- not a monarchy or a dictatorship -- a democracy. And, the funny thing about our democracy is we get the kind of government we deserve and work for, not necessarily the kind of government we want.
Four years later, the President is much, much older and the campaign theme was "forward". But he still will not be able to bring about "a change we can believe in," alone. We are a critical component of this proposition. It cannot happen without us.
The election may be over, but we are still very much a country divided. People are still in a tremendous amount of pain and there is a ton of work to be don. America can and should be the first country in the world to end the AIDS epidemic. We have a President who has made a commitment to help us do that.
The President fought to make the Affordable Health Care Act the law of the land. Now we need to make it work for people with HIV/AIDS by expanding Medicaid and making sure the Essential Health Benefits meet the needs of the people living with HIV/AIDS.
The President promised and delivered a National HIV/AIDS strategy. Now we need to implement it.
We have treatments that can help people with HIV have a normal life expectancy. Now we need to build demand for treatment so we have an infrastructure and the capacity to provide it to everyone who needs it.
We have new biomedical prevention tools. Now we need to make sure people understand how they work and when it is appropriate to use them.
On many fronts we've had a President who's had our back. But too few of us stood up for our own interests. During the last four years we allowed the obstructionist to frame the discussion. We cannot allow history to repeat itself during the next four years. We have the tools to end the AIDS epidemic. The promise of ending the AIDS epidemic in America does not reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It resides on your street and mine. It will only happen if we are engaged every step of the way. It will only happen if we make sure that our friends, loved ones, neighbors, and acquaintances understand what's at stake.
The operative word in "Yes, we can" is we.