The federal government is the type of institution that works on the squeaky wheel principle. That principle, simply stated, is that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Applied to Washington, that means that it will be the areas of life that public officials think will get them the most votes that will get attention and the rest will get ignored. It’s sad to say that about our representative system of government but it’s true.
As senior citizens, we have some very real needs that must be attended to at the governmental level. The Social Security System and Medicare are obvious issues that we need to see defended. We have seen numerous attempts by ambitious politicians to try to shut down these programs that are so important to senior citizens. That is why, we as senior citizens need to learn to be the squeaky wheel so they know we are not to be overlooked.
The arrival of the baby boomer generation into the ranks of the senior citizen population is going to help tremendously. This is a huge generation that swells the ranks of any group they join. They are also a vocal group who are not afraid to take action at a political level to get what they want from the government. Working together with these “new recruits” to the ranks of concerned senior citizens, there are some things we can do to make sure that Washington listens to our concerns.
We are not the kind of population that would be prone to stage a “million senior citizens march” on Washington to make our voices heard. But we have something powerful going for us that few other organized groups enjoy. We are a large body of the population and we represent a lot of votes. Moreover, senior citizens as a group vote more often and with greater solidarity than any other segment of the population. That means that politicians have to be aware that if an issue is important to senior America, we will turn out to vote and we will vote in unity to get our collective will known and convert that will into public policy.
It’s important that we don’t leave the work of making Washington listen to somebody else. There are active things we can do to make our voices heard on a regular basis including…
- Writing our congressmen and even our president to let them know what we want and when we are unhappy.
Influencing who gets elected through contributions to candidates that represent our views.
- Staying informed on what is going on in Washington so legislation that might hurt senior citizen causes don’t get passed without notice. And when we notice such legislation is moving though the system, we need to raise hell about it until it dies in committee.
- Working in unity. There are as many republican senior citizens as democratic ones. But when it comes to protecting senior issues, there is just one party and that is the party of senior citizens. Whatever party does well at looking out after the interests of senior citizens should get our support and those who do not need to lose their right to represent America in Washington.
These are bold statements and somewhat demanding, but that is how the American system of government works. We
have an advocate in Washington who has taken on the charge of watching out after our interest. We have advocates in AARP and AMAC. Their voice counts for something when they speak to our representatives. So by being active in AARP and AMAC, being active in politics, we are protecting ourselves, our friends and neighbors in the senior citizen community and those coming along behind us as well.
We must not abandon the fight or decide we are done even when we get some wins at the federal level. There are fights at the state and local level. And not all issues that are important to seniors are strictly senior citizen issues. We also care a great deal for the welfare of our children and their families. So we as an influential political force can do all we can to protect family issues and the sanctity of the family. This is a high calling and one that needs all of our support. But it’s a noble cause that deserves our attention as well.