The American Association of Retired Person (AARP) is not politically subtle regarding its latest t.v. advertising campaign -- it says, in so many words -- Congress: if you cut benefits from Social Security or Medicare -- you'll be voted out of public office.
Here's the t.v commercial's script:
I'm not a number. I'm not a line item on a budget. And I'm definitely not a pushover. But I am a voter.
So Washington, before you even think about cutting my Medicare and Social Security benefits, here's a number you should remember:
50 million. We are 50 million seniors who earned our benefits. And you will be hearing from us today and on election day.
Join the fight Tell Congress: Cut waste and loopholes, not our benefits.
Social Security: The Third-Rail of U.S. Politics
Historically, senior citizens, in the modern/postmodern era, have been one of most powerful -- and feared -- voting groups / interest groups in the United States. And Congress fears the group for a good reason: senior citizens vote, and vote consistently, and that is a major reason their interests are represented on Capitol Hill.
To be sure, the ability to contribute to a political campaign is strongly correlated with interests represented on Capitol Hill, but voting -- something that's good to see, given that the U.S. is a democracy -- is also strongly correlated with having your voice heard in Congress.
Specifically, groups that vote regularly, as in every election, as a bloc -- usually are better represented in Congress, than those that don't, and the AARP is one. Another: the National Rifle Association.
Conversely, groups and sections of society that do not vote regularly, are not as likely to have their voice heard in Washington. One major example: the poor, and, until recently, younger voters age 18 thru 21, had a hard time getting their interests represented, due to lower and inconsistent voter turnout rates.
Political/Public Policy Analysis: For the above reason -- seniors vote -- Social Security has been the third-rail of U.S. politics, a reference to the electric third-rail found on many commuter line railroads. As in, Touch the third-rail called Social Security, and you die. Will Social Security prove to be a third-rail in 2012? History suggests that it will, for those who seek to decrease the Social Security monthly benefit to current or about-to-retire voters.