Amplify Your Vote

By Bob Brocker, President of Colorado Senior Lobby ~

Since you are reading this, you have some interest in issues impacting older adults in Colorado. What are the most common issues? What we at Colorado Senior Lobby (CSL) hear over and over again are four basic themes: better and more convenient transportation options for access to medical care and everything else, health care costs and availability, housing we can afford and that works for an aging body, and engagement in society.

Our mission at CSL is to constantly work on all of those issues: to improve the quality of life and well-being of older adults in Colorado. Let’s focus here on engagement.
What does that mean? To me, it means that after you retire from your job – your career – you still have gas in the tank and you want to be useful in some way; to make a difference to others; to help. And so, we volunteer.

Think about this as you think about life, post-work: We have elections to vote people into office whom we feel will best represent us and make good decisions on our behalf. In our last state General Assembly session, nearly 800 distinct legislative proposals (bills) were introduced by our 100 legislators. Do you think it is possible for all 100 of those people – our neighbors, essentially – to understand the details (or even the basics) behind every one of those bills?

Could you? I could not. No doubt these are bright and ambitious and well-meaning people who want to do good, but there are limits to human capacity to juggle everything that comes at them. So, what do we do to help these lawmakers be better informed and make better decisions on what is impacting our lives?

What we at CSL (and we are all volunteers) do is educate ourselves and then educate our legislators on the legislative proposals that make a difference to us, the older adults of Colorado, and advocate for those issues. We (older Coloradans) are nearly one million in number, but we are NOT one million strong. About 75% of that nearly one million do vote, a very high percentage, so we know there is interest in who gets elected. And then what?

Want to make an even bigger difference that will potentially impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of Coloradans? Become a part of something that is growing in force:

The making of public policy/legislation is a process of informed negotiation while working for the good of the people within the constraints of existing laws – and seen through the lens of personal beliefs. Become a part of that process; you can. Democracy requires citizen involvement; without it we may as well have a king. Some of you were very active in the turbulent 60’s. Transform that youthful energy and passion into the wisdom and understanding of older age and use it in a thoughtful way.

You do not need to be a political junkie to become involved in CSL. Most of us are not, including me. I am a retired railroader whose only brush with politics for forty plus years was voting. Rather, take that frustration, or bewilderment, or mystery; feelings that so many of us have about “politics”, and be willing to do a little reading and discussing and listening with the aim of becoming informed in an area(s) of public policy that is of interest to you. With information, you become powerful, confident and unafraid to talk to anyone using your informed knowledge; and that includes that neighbor down the street who may have knocked on your door once to ask for your vote and who is now representing your interests under the dome of the Capitol.

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