Guest Column: Divided we fail

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-119074552525270.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of‘, ‘Forty-six million Americans are uninsured, and middle-class families are the fastest-growing segment.‘);

Abraham Lincoln said it in 1858, and his words still ring true today: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” In fact, like Lincoln, we see issues confronting Americans today that our leaders must address. We’ve named our campaign Divided We Fail because if we don’t work together to do something about Americans’ health and long-term financial security, then we will fail. We’ll fail ourselves and future generations as well. And that can’t happen.

Health care costs are out of control for both individuals and employers. One in four Americans has problems paying medical bills, and one in three says they have skipped treatment, tests or prescriptions because of costs. Forty-six million Americans are uninsured, and middle-class families are the fastest-growing segment.

Financial security is just as tenuous for too many Americans. National saving is at an all-time low, and pension plans are dwindling. Half of all private-sector workers are not signed up for a 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan. For many people, Social Security will be their only reliable, guaranteed retirement income source. But Social Security alone isn’t enough.

If we don’t act, and soon, the next generation will be the first in American history to be less well off than their parents. We can’t let that happen, and we won’t.

AARP has launched Divided We Fail to amplify the voices of Americans who believe that health and financial security are the most pressing domestic issues facing our nation today. This campaign will compel our nation’s leaders to take action and develop common-sense, bi-partisan solutions to ensure that all Americans can count on a lifetime of health and financial security.

Harking back to Lincoln, we know that accomplishing our goal of finding solutions in health and financial security that benefit all generations will require the efforts of every single one of us, thus, the name, Divided We Fail.

Getting there is going to take the concerted efforts of every sector—health, business, government-—and individuals, too. AARP will be engaging our members and the public to press for change. We’ll put pressure on candidates to make health and financial security the top domestic issues in ’08. We’ve joined forces with business and labor and will add in a broad spectrum of other groups to see this through.

Washington is stuck in gridlock and too dominated by special interests. We need our leaders to address the financial and health security problems that so many Americans face. Lifetime financial and health security is at the core of the American dream—giving people the freedom and opportunity to make a better life for their families. The nearly 40 million members of AARP are calling on Washington—Republicans and Democrats, business and labor—to do this.

We urge you to join in our effort through Millions of Voices for Change. We are asking the American people to share their thoughts, experiences and ideas and to sign our pledge regarding health and financial security on our Web site, By putting a personal face on these issues, we can demonstrate their urgency and drive our leaders to commit to bi-partisan action. We’re seeking action, answers and accountability from our elected officials. We’ve waited far too long for the solutions.

This will be an all-encompassing campaign to activate the American people as never before. We’re building a public movement, demanding leadership and action on health and financial security. We must send this message to our elected officials—stop the bickering and work together to address the health and financial security problems that so many Americans face.

The stakes are high. If we don’t succeed, quality of life—for present and future generations—will suffer. And America will have fallen short of its promise. We need your help to succeed. Please join us.

Divided We Fail, together we can do anything.

Evelyn Gooden is the state president of AARP Illinois.

from the Sept. 26 – Oct. 2, 2007, issue

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