Bill Novelli
CEO, American Ass. of Retired Persons (AARP)
01:59

Re: Is the American political system broken?

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The American Political System needs to move back towards independence and not privatization.


Bill Novelli

Bill Novelli is CEO of AARP, a membership organization of 40 million people age 50 and older, half of whom remain actively employed. AARP’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for all as we age.  Prior to joining AARP, Mr. Novelli was President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, whose mandate is to change public policies and the social environment, limit tobacco companies’ marketing and sales practices to children and serve as a counterforce to the tobacco industry and its special interests. He now serves as chairman of the board.  He was also Executive Vice President of CARE, the world’s largest private relief and development organization.

Mr. Novelli is a recognized leader in social marketing and social change, and has managed programs in cancer control, diet and nutrition, cardiovascular health, reproductive health, infant survival, pay increases for educators, charitable giving and other programs in the U.S. and the developing world.  His book, 50+: Give Meaning and Purpose to the Best Time of Your Life, was updated in 2008.  Mr. Novelli serves on a number of boards and advisory committees.  He holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. from Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication, and pursued doctoral studies at New York University.

Transcript
I don’t think so. I don’t think our system is broken, but I think it’s out of kilter right now. You know the public is divided into red and blue, but most states are purple. Most states . . . You know the public wants to see something happen. Last November they tried to give a message. They tried to send a message. They voted a lot of incumbents out of office, but I’m not sure the message was received. Now from an AARP standpoint, we try to do a lot of voter education. Last November, 25 percent of all the people who voted across the country were AARP members. So voter education for us is an important thing. And what we . . . what we want people to do is make an informed choice, and tell these people to stop the bickering and do the people’s work.

I have a fierce political philosophy, and it is independence. I really despair when people start off by saying, you know, “I’m a conservative, and therefore . . .” Or, “I’m a liberal, and therefore . . .” You know, “Let’s privatize something,” or “Big government is best.” I just got into this discussion the other day with Newt Gingrich. And what I say is if you’re a business person; if you’re in the military; if you’re a football coach; if you’re anybody – a mother – how do you think? You think about what’s the problem to be solved. And that’s the way we have to be. We have to be pragmatic. So I think of myself as a centrist; as a pragmatic problem solver. And I wish we could get our political leaders to put aside all this ideology and think about problem-solving. Be a centrist. Be independent.

Recorded on: 9/27/07


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