“Honoring” Elders During Older Americans Month
ELDER POETRY INTERLUDE: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

How Progressive Elders Can Help

category_bug_politics.gif It's interesting, as I have done for the past ten days or so, to take such a long time off from the daily news. I am lost right now on the day-to-day minutiae of political posturing but it's not hard to regain a sense of the overall trajectory.

Welcome to the 2012 presidential campaign, now officially underway – that is, if you falsely believed it hasn't been going on since 4 November 2008.

Without the input of the latest campaign ad attacks, faux outrage, lies and refutations, I have had time to think about what is at stake in the November election.

That ought to be the presidential election, right? Well, I don't think so. From his speeches, it has been easy to see that Mitt Romney has an enormously inflated idea of presidential power – an affliction suffered by all candidates until they attain the White House. Just ask President Obama.

So I'm much more concerned with the other two branches of government and foremost between them, the Judicial. The next president of the United States will be called upon to appoint at least one and possibly three Supreme Court justices.

Although our courts are supposed to be independent of political bias, that ideal is never met. But has there ever been such a democracy crushing Supreme Court as the current one? With each decision, they move our nation more terrifyingly toward the extreme right.

We all know about Citizens United and are seeing the disgusting results as rich people and corporations pour billions of dollars into this year's election campaigns. But did you take note of the Court's decision in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders on 2 April this year?

According to Adam Liptak writing in The New York Times (emphasis is mine),

”The Supreme Court on Monday ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband.

According to Liptak, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer referenced examples of arbitrary strip searches in his dissenting opinion:

”Citing examples from briefs submitted to the Supreme Court, Justice Breyer wrote that people have been subjected to 'the humiliation of a visual strip search' after being arrested for driving with a noisy muffler, failing to use a turn signal and riding a bicycle without an audible bell.

“A nun was strip-searched, he wrote, after an arrest for trespassing during an antiwar demonstration.”

If you do not think this can happen to you, go back and read those last two paragraphs again. Then imagine what a Supreme Court could do to Constitutional rights with just one more right wing zealot - especially if the Senate too were majority Republican. We are chillingly close to that situation.

A president can nominate a justice of any or no political stripe. Doesn't matter. What does matter is the Senate which confirms the appointment by a simple majority vote.

So it seems to me that to ensure a future for Constitutional law in the U.S., the most important elections this year are for Congress.

The media lumps all elders into the right wing of the political spectrum. And it's true that an embarrassing (for me) number of my contemporaries believe way too many of extreme right wing articles of faith.

But there are the rest of us and there are some ways we can, perhaps, make a bigger difference than just through our votes. One of them is to contribute to the campaigns of candidates in states not our own.

Nothing says we cannot and our money – even small contributions – are needed because most of the billions unleashed by Citizens United go to Republicans.

Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, a reliable populist who caucuses with the Democrats, is up for re-election. There probably isn't much chance he'll lose the election. As Wikipedia explains:

“Polling conducted in August 2011 by Public Policy Polling found that

Sander's approval rating was 67% and his disapproval rating was just 28%, making him the third most-popular Senator in the country.”

But why not help make sure with a small contribution. You can do that here if you are so inclined.

Another of the good guys, Democrat Alan Grayson, was defeated in 2010 by a Republican zealot after being heavily targeted by right wing radio, conservative pundits, organizations, money and even Sarah Palin.

He is back this election season running for Congress from the new district 9 in central Florida, created due to population growth. Here is one of Grayson's recent ads – I like its retro feel and the numbers are correct:

He's going for the House seat so would not vote for a Supreme Court justice but we sure do need his voice in Congress. You can find out more here where you can also contribute to his campaign.

Feel free in the comments below help create a list of good-guy candidates we should all be aware of.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: A Pereidolia


You're spot-on in stressing the importance of the Congressional elections this year, and the people you recommend for support. But one could actually go state-by-state and find progressive candidates deserving of our limited resources, and this will be particularly important where the Republicans are most vulnerable, for instance, first-term representatives who won traditionally Democratic or swing seats in 2010.

So as an alternative to identifying and pinpointing specific candidates, I suggest one might contribute to the Democratic Senatorial and Congressional Committees and DCCC and they will feed the money to where it is most needed.

Of course, this means some measure of support goes to conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats, but they add to the total needed to retain or retake control of the Senate and House. (A representative may be a jerk, but at least he or she is our jerk. "The devil you know ...")

By the way, I am already a Grayson supporter, and if you do decide to contribute to his campaign, it's worth it to check the "opt-in" box to get his newsletter, which is very informative on the issues (national, not just his district's), discussed with refreshing good humor.

Yes, time to support not only congressional candidates but local ones too. Here we appear to have five Republicans vs one Democrat.

Your previous entry on elders. It would be nice here if we had a decent reduced buss and trolley pass for seniors and improved public transportation. Since getting anywhere here requires 2 hours, I drive.

Delightful of you to share your visit with the M and AM. The photos ran from amusing to stunning. Beautiful country you live in.

Hope some sun is on your way for Peter's next visit.

I agree on the Congress and state offices but see the presidency as critical also. Romney can do a lot with executive orders. We can't afford him for our civil rights or our financial health.

Elizabeth Warren running against Koch brother favorite Scott Brown in Massachusetts for Ted Kennedy's old seat.

Richard Lugar, a 36 year moderate member of Congress lost to a Tea Party nutjob yesterday in the Indiana primary. Do you seriously think that money on misleading ads didn't tip the balance of voters to the TP candidate? Lugar not only lost, he lost by a wide margin. If the TP candidate wins in the National election along with others of his ilk I think you can say you were present when the end of Democracy in the U. S. occurred.

Excellent reminder that we can and should consider contributing to contests in other states. I like Deejay's suggestion that the money go to the national Democratic committees for distribution to the most critical races. Of course this presupposes we have money to contribute. My contribution in 2008 consisted of buying a couple of bumper stickers.

I'm supporting two Senate candidates: Elizabeth Warren in Mass. and Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin. The first would be a Democratic pick up; the second a Dem. hold.

In the House, I like Annie Kuster in New Hampshire and a number of other progressive Dems who are still facing primaries. (I don't usually give to out of state primaries; though I break my own rule sometimes.)

Running for office is brutal on the person doing it. I am grateful for those who do it and manage to stay reasonably sane.

Thanks for doing the research and presenting such vital info. Hope our contributions help because I'm IN!

I agree in principle and will probably contribute to out-of-state Congressional campaigns once again as election time approaches. Still, one thing potential contributors might want to consider is that donating will likely mean that their name will be added to the candidate's email solicitation list--and possibly given or sold to other Progressive causes and candidates.

They will be deluged with emails asking for money! If their financial resources are limited, like mine, it's easy to end up feeling totally overwhelmed--guilty, too, even though they may recall Suze Orman's repeated counsel that going bankrupt won't help anybody.

I was getting so many emails every day that, in self-defense, I finally "unsubscribed" from the websites of some candidates and causes that I believe in. I'm truly conflicted because I understand what's at stake. I WANT to support all Progressives--but I just can't contribute to everyone and everything. Next time around I'll try to be more selective.

A couple more thoughts on this subject. . .Many of the unsubscribe screens asked why I was leaving. I answered more succinctly but honestly (see previous message).

I SO wish there were a "clearinghouse" of some kind for donors who, like me, want to help but don't have unlimited resources. We could send contributions to candidates we support without finding ourselves back on their solicitation lists. I've tried donating to the DNC and Democrat Senate campaign fund, but the flood of email from individual candidates and causes kept coming.

The only real solution to Big Money-driven elections is genuine campaign finance reform. Regrettably, that's probably not going to happen in my lifetime. So, if anyone in TGB circles has developed a better way to support who/what they believe in, I'd appreciate knowing about it.

It's impossible to contribute or show interest in anything on the Internet, including signing petitions, without being inundated with constant badgering with more stuff than I have time to read, or requests for money and more, more, more. I try to find ways to act to minimize what comes to seem like harassment.

I agree about the ongoing concern we've had about Supreme Court appointees which, actually, we've had for several years but it's even more critical now.

I'm concerned about congressional elections in California. Redistricting has allowed us to get rid of one powerful lock-step Republican House member, David Dreier. Rumor has it he may try to go after Dem. Sen. Diane Feinstein when the time comes and unseating Dem. Sen. Barbara Boxer is always on the Rep. agenda. Not sure which Party candidate will get Dreier's House seat, but my attention is going to be strongly focused on that and keeping track of my Senators.

Oh, yes! I agree with Rain that we certainly need to keep Mitt out of the White House. His dismissal of his and friends assaultive high school actions as simply being a "prank" reveals he doesn't "get it." As the mother of a young man who had long blond hair, had they done that to my son they ALL would have received memorable actions from me! Even through college my son's hair was an attraction to the opposite gender which he enjoyed, but had cut his hair by the time he wed. Gay had nothing to do with it.

Then, there's the matter of Mitt's reported coercive adult "counseling." I don't welcome the adult mores he seems inclined to want to force on those with whom he's in contact at any age. I can only imagine what he might want to force on our nation. I'm just not ready to trade our democracy/republic -- as sick as it is right now -- for a theocracy.

I don't think he or his wife have the foggiest notion of what life is like for ordinary people, plus I don't think he's even able to empathize, unlike some other wealthy President's we've had. Sure his wife may have worked hard with three boys to raise, but I wonder what household help they had? Also, she never had to fret about financial issues while raising her family, much less go out daily into the business workplace, too.

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