October 1, 2010
By Craig L. Fuller
On the hustings—it’s a Middle English term not heard much outside the political arena. Over time, the phrase has come to mean a platform for speaking to an audience about matters of public policy. During this election year, and especially in the past few weeks, I’ve returned to the hustings, long familiar to me from my years working on presidential campaigns. But this time, I’m not traveling the country on behalf of a particular candidate, but on behalf of general aviation.
Being politically engaged is vital for an organization like AOPA because so much of GA’s future depends on decisions made in Congress and by federal agencies. That’s why, with the help of contributions from AOPA members like you, we’ve organized a series of meetings around the country and invited members of the general aviation caucuses in the House and Senate to join us.
Taking advantage of the summer break, when members of Congress are in their home states and districts, we’ve been able to bring together pilots and politicians to share ideas about the value of general aviation and how to protect it. Meeting in hangars at community airports in locations as far- flung as California, Georgia, Colorado, and Oklahoma, we’ve demonstrated the value of GA firsthand. In fact, we never could have hosted so many events in so many different locales without GA aircraft to move us and our equipment around efficiently.
These community events generally begin with me giving a report on AOPA’s key activities before introducing our guest senator or representative to make some remarks. Then, together, we answer questions and respond to comments from the audience.
Hundreds of AOPA members have turned out for these events—a show of strength and an important demonstration that our members are actively engaged in the issues that affect their flying. The insightful questions and comments from these audiences have left the participating congressmen and senators with a new understanding of who our members are and what they are concerned about, both at home and in Washington.
If you’ve been to one of these events, thank you! I can’t tell you how important your participation is. If you have not yet attended one of these forums, know that you have been well represented by your fellow AOPA members. (You can watch a recent community forum with Rep. Darrell Issa at California’s Oceanside Airport on AOPA Live.)
For the elected officials, the sessions have been important exchanges with their constituents. For us, they have been excellent opportunities to strengthen relationships with the decision makers who will help shape the future of aviation. Whether the issue is avgas, NextGen, security, or oversight of the FAA, the members of the GA caucuses in the House and Senate are critically important to us. Their votes, in many ways, determine our future.
Many of our friends in Congress are up for reelection in November, and I strongly encourage you to get out and vote on election day (see “ GA’s Supporters on Capitol Hill,”). In the meantime, I urge you to visit the AOPA Political Action Committee website. You can learn more, and if you wish, you can make a contribution right online. Contributions to the PAC ensure that candidates who support GA receive our help, and that help can be the difference between victory and defeat in a tight race.
All year I’ve been inviting AOPA members to get more engaged with general aviation, and thousands of you have responded in ways large and small. Now, in the weeks leading up to the election, your engagement is more important than ever. To find out more about how you can support general aviation and candidates who care about our future, visit the General Aviation Serves America website.
By standing together and standing up for general aviation, we can make a tangible difference in what tomorrow holds.
E-mail AOPA President Craig Fuller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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