Senior Citizens
The American Association of Retired Person (AARP) has launched a new ad campaign that cautions U.S. representatives and senators against cutting Social Security and Medicare. REUTERS

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.