How to Be a Player in Federal Decision-Making
Every fall, Washington, D.C. buzzes with activity as the U.S. Congress finalizes a spending and taxing plan for the coming year. This year because of the recent tax cut, the slowing economy, and because the Bush administration has proposed spending a ridiculously small amount on the AIDS crisis it is more important than ever for people who care about AIDS to participate in the budget debates. Fortunately, this is easier than you might think, and with one or two phone calls or better yet, one handwritten letter you can have an impact much larger than you might expect.
Do you wonder how one letter or phone call from you could possibly affect the federal budget? The simple explanation is this: small, personal, efforts have a huge impact because most people never take the time to communicate with their elected representatives. Think about it. Of all the people you know who have a strong opinion on various government policies, how many have actually written a letter to their Congressperson? Ask your friends, probably fewer than you think ever take the time to communicate with elected officials. Well, this is something that your Representatives have thought about, and because they've thought about it, they generally regard one phone call and especially one letter as representing the wishes of a much larger group of people. It is ironic, but true: while every vote counts, every letter and phone call gets counted more, because recipients assume that for each person who takes the time to write, there is a large community of people who feel the same way, but simply don't take the time to express themselves.
So take a minute or two, or ten, and communicate with your elected officials. Tell them what you know about HIV/AIDS, and tell them that you care. Tell them that until there's a cure, and for as long as HIV/AIDS continues to burden already poor and disenfranchised communities, the federal government must make HIV/AIDS prevention, care, treatment, and research significant social and financial priorities. This June marked the twentieth anniversary of AIDS in America, and unless we make the federal government put significantly more money into the fight against AIDS now, twenty years will quickly turn into fifty, and the worst will be ahead, instead of behind us, where it belongs.
To help your efforts, we have drafted a sample letter for you to use as a model, and if you don't know who represents you, or how to reach them, just go to www.vote-smart.org, or call 1-888-VOTE-SMA (1-888-868-3762) and you'll be on your way! Now, let your voice be heard!
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This article was provided by Test Positive Aware Network. It is a part of the publication Positively Aware. Visit TPAN's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.