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Voting on Nov. 2: Why It's Too Soon to Give Up

By Carole Treston, R.N., M.P.H.

October 29, 2010

One of the privileges of being Executive Director of a national organization is the opportunity to communicate with a large group of people. It's a responsibility that I take very seriously and I try to be mindful of not taking up too much of your email time unless it's something important for the HIV community. Voting in next week's election is something we at AIDS Alliance think is important.

It's so easy to get turned off -- especially if you watch any television -- the ads by all candidates are almost unbearable. The optimism and engagement of diverse communities electing President Obama seems so far away. But it's critical that we stay in the fight and in the process. Sometimes it seems like the country hired him to do a job about health care, education and other things that are important to our community but we are giving up just one fourth of the way in. We have to believe that we can still accomplish things that are meaningful over the long haul and that continues by getting out to vote on Tuesday November 2 and getting our friends and family out to vote too -- just like we did in November 2008.

The other night I was so disgusted by commercials on TV, I shut it off and went on line and looked up the candidate websites and clicked on issues. It's pretty easy to see what the candidates actually stand for. It took just a few minutes to quickly see who talked about health care reform as a means of access for many -- not just who can afford to choose to buy better in a competitive market. Within a few seconds I saw who talked about LGBT issues and who talked about restricting by law marriage to between men and women and who talked about a woman's right to choice and supporting public schools and who talked nothing about public schools but had a whole section on the right to bear arms (... please tell me why we need the risk of more guns in any community?). These are the issues that are important to me -- do you know where the candidates stand on issues that are important to you?

If you voted in the Presidential election you're still registered to vote -- all you need to do is get up and do it. This is a long road -- not one election -- that creates change. The youth vote was so important in the last election -- let's encourage all of the young people we know to get out again. It's not anywhere near as exciting as voting for the President in 2008, but it's just as important. The job of improving health care and education and ensuring equal rights for all Americans is barely underway. Yes -- we've got so much work to do still -- ADAP and AIDS funding is a mess. But without your vote, that work will be so much harder, maybe impossible to accomplish in the upcoming years.

I'm still registered to vote in Pennsylvania, so I'll be leaving work early and taking the 3:00 train back to Philadelphia to vote on Tuesday, texting my family and friends to get to the polls and ruminating the whole time that for each of us that doesn't vote -- it's a vote against the things that are critical for our community.

It may not be as much fun this time -- but it's just as important. Every vote still counts.

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