In the field: educating this year’s congressional candidates on the importance of smart power

October 22, 2010 By Jessica O’Connell

Smart Vote 2010With 12 days to go until this year’s much-anticipated congressional elections, there’s little doubt that turnover in the current leadership will be substantial.  This poses both challenges and opportunities for the International Affairs Budget, as a new class of representatives and senators with a mandate to cut spending may not know just how critical this one percent of federal funding is to our economy and national security.

In the past month, the USGLC and our supporters have been busy meeting with this year’s Democratic and Republican candidates to educate them on the importance of a smart power approach to America’s foreign policy and national security. Through elevating development and diplomacy alongside a strong defense, we can build a better, safer world.

The USGLC has undertaken an effort called Smart Vote 2010 to reach out to Senate and House races across the country to ensure that there is a strong voice in support of international affairs funding. With your help in many states, we are conducting face-to-face meetings with the candidates and campaigns. We’ve already had contact with Senate and House candidates or their representatives in AR, CA, FL, KY, ME, ND, NH, PA, SC, TN, VA, and WA. The goal is to get our message to candidates early with a commitment to meet with them again once they are elected. Here’s how you can help us today.

Visit Smart Vote 2010 for tools and tips on talking to the candidates in your area.  They need to hear directly from you. Reach out and let them know just how important these issues are to you.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the positive experiences we’ve had already:

  • In South Carolina, USGLC representatives and community leaders met with candidates and staff from the 1st, 3rd and 4th Congressional districts, all of whom expressed an interest in working with the USGLC should they win their respective seats in November.
  • In the Tennessee cities of Memphis, Nashville, and Chattanooga, the excitement of the last two weeks of campaigning was evident. Deputy Field Director Matt Michaelree, while there, heard success stories from Iraq and Afghanistan veterans now running for office who intimately understand the importance of development and diplomacy programs abroad.
  • In New Hampshire, where Paul Hodes (D) and Kelly Ayotte (R) are in a tight race for U.S. Senate, both campaigns devoted valuable time to discussing the importance of the International Affairs Budget with us and several of their New Hampshire constituents.
  • In Miami, FL over a hundred community leaders gathered for an event with University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala, among others, on the importance of a smart power approach to foreign policy. While there, participants sent messages to Florida’s three senatorial candidates asking them to support a robust International Affairs Budget when elected.

If you’re willing to help spread the word about this important cause, or you know someone who is, please find out how you can carry this message to your congressional candidates at