Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Old Folks Voting Patterns

One of the reasons that the Democrats suffered such a big loss in the recent mid-term elections is because so many of the swing voters switched from the Democrats to the right wingers like the Republicans and the Tea Party.

If you look deeper into the numbers you find that the main group which made the switch were us old geezers; and old folks vote in large numbers. Seniors may no longer be able to do many things, but this generation of seniors still realizes the power they wield when they go into that polling place to vote.

This move to the right may be in the self interest of old people, or it may not. But in large numbers they became convinced that Obama and the liberals wanted to institute death panels and make cuts to sacred programs like social security, medicare, and medicaid. In fact as it turns out there have been some cuts made, and there is talk of even deeper cuts. Whether the right or the left has been responsible for these cuts is difficult to say. Generally speaking traditional Democrats supported social programs like social security. Over the last thirty years the Democrats have gradually shifted further to the right wing, so as not to alienate their large campaign contributors. It is now often to tell the difference between a Republican and a Democrat.

Even though old people are consistently high voters, they can easily be misled and actually end up voting for politicians who cut their favored programs once they get in office.

Defense, the military, and intelligence gathering have to see their funding cut substantially. On the order of 40% budget cuts. Once this is done there will be more than enough money to adequately fund the programs which help out seniors.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has one purpose: Making certain that the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution stays alive and that no legislation is passed limiting the right of individual citizens to own and carry loaded guns. Primarily for self protection, but also for hunting. The focus of the NRA is extremely narrow. They are a single issue group, and they do not allow themselves to get weakened by branching off into other issues like abortion. This focus on one issue (pro-gun) and one group of constituents (gun owners) has helped make them the most effective lobbying group in Washington.

Old folks need this same kind of narrow focus, single issue group. I had hoped that the American Association of Retired People (AARP) or the Grey Panthers might become this sort of advocacy group. Instead both have become top heavy bureaucracies where most of their revenue comes from being an insurance sales agency. Survival and growth of the group has become the first priority, and supporting the political programs which help old people has gone far down their list of priorities.

Neither has been the slightest bit effective at communicating to old people the issues or politicians who want to cut their social security, medicaid, and medicare. Alerting old people to contact their senators or representatives regarding a particular bill, etc. The NRA does a great job of this day-to-day work. AARP doesn't even seem to care. As the demographics of our population and our society gradually gets older, this need will become even more urgent. There is a real void here that is not being properly filled, so the right wing weirdos are inserting themselves. The result has not been good for old people.

It is a pity to see old people voting in such really large numbers, but in their ignorance actually voting for issues or people which are harmful to old people. The internet can be helpful or it can lead people astray. What is essential is having a narrowly focused, single minded, effective group like the NRA which is strong and active in Washington, D.C.