We Didn't Leave AARP...AARP Left Us
The report of the AARP convention booing Paul Ryan the other day made me just shake my head and smile wryly. These are the kind of fools who'd boo the man trying to save their bacon while they remain content to blindly follow a leftist leadership that has sold its organizational soul to liberal orthodoxy.
Like millions of Americans, I received my courtesy membership to AARP upon nearing fifty, some two decades ago. At the time, this free milestone membership, available to all Americans of that age, was the source of much merriment among such new members' younger friends and colleagues. But membership did offer benefits -- among them a free monthly magazine, which back then was a rather colorless, stodgy production full of unappealing ads for drugs, insurance, and esoteric health aids we new readers hoped we'd never need.
That bland format began to change during the 1990s to a much slicker, more professionally produced publication featuring more bright colors and dynamic graphics; it was easy to see that the AARP magazine had been taken over by an entirely new journalistic crew. Such changes would have been welcome were it not for the fact that they accompanied a change in content, from the usual, relatively neutral advice to seniors on issues that were pertinent to their specific demographic to political advocacy regarding larger social issues that reflected a decidedly leftist sympathy. I thought of them as Newsweek in a wheelchair.
Initially, conservative readers had to wonder if the AARP board had allowed a bunch of liberal journalists to hijack their periodical, but as time passed, it became increasingly apparent that the entire organization had performed a major sidestep left. As with leftist infiltration everywhere, the takeover was implemented at a measured but unrelenting pace, but to any AARP member holding conservative political views, and there were then millions and still some remaining, the coup was obviously complete by the time of the 2008 presidential election. The organization we had foolishly believed to be representing the interests of all seniors was by then representing only those seniors who subscribed to the increasingly politically correct views of AARP's leadership and their masters, the Democrat Party.
Just as we had to do with TIME, Newsweek, National Geographic, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and the Democrat Party, many conservative seniors had to accept the reality that AARP no longer made even token efforts to represent their views. Just like all those others, AARP had left us, without our having changed a thing. Those of us who realized this early were not lone voices in that hoary wilderness for long; more and more conservative seniors were waking up to the fact that they were dues-paying members of a huge leftist lobbying organization that was using its significant heft in Washington to push legislation not in their best interests -- most specifically ObamaCare. It was AARP's strong advocacy of that legislative monstrosity that awakened many seniors to the fact that they had been sold down the river by their benevolent old buddy, AARP. Those seniors began departing in droves. Other organizations quickly came into being to provide similar services to these disaffected seniors.
Now we learn from Kim Strassel in an article at the Wall Street Journal that not only was AARP sympathetic to the Democrat effort to ram through universal health care legislation, but it was doing much of the pushing and shoving to force this bloated atrocity through the knothole in the legislative fence. Even more disturbing is that AARP was clearly getting its marching orders directly from the White House -- a fact revealed by e-mails just released by a congressional committee. From the WSJ article:
The emails overall show an AARP leadership -- Policy Chief John Rother, Health Policy Director Nora Super, Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond, Senior Vice President David Sloane -- that from the start worked to pass ObamaCare, before crucial details pertaining to seniors had been addressed. This crew was in constant contact with Mr. Obama's top aides, in particular Nancy-Ann DeParle and Jim Messina.
Clearly, AARP was advocating not for seniors, but for the Obama White House and the Democrat Congress. The e-mails show that AARP was collaborating also with big labor leadership in this effort. A sellout of such huge significance should cause remaining conservative AARP members to question their continued affiliation with an obvious tool of the Democrat Party and Big Labor.
For those reading this who retain your AARP membership solely because of their Medi-Gap insurance coverage, be advised: there are many alternatives, and the AARP programs may not be the best available to you, either cost-wise or benefit-wise. Shop around. You can join other senior advocacy organizations for senior discounts or simply ask for them individually. If a business offers only an AARP discount to seniors and not a broader senior discount, point out to management that they are discouraging your patronage and probably that of a significant sector of their business. And don't be shy about it, because they will listen.
For example, I recently sent a certified letter to the CEO of a major hotel corporation pointing out that to qualify for a senior discount at a his hotels, one must produce proof of AARP membership, while at Marriott, the other chain I use most frequently, any senior qualifies. That discrepancy results in my staying with Marriott far more often than with his chain. In this letter, I pointed out the dissatisfaction of many seniors with AARP and how his corporate policy could be driving away business, just as in my own case. He never responded, so I have no certainty that it was my letter that provided the impetus, but within a month, his chain's website began posting a senior discount separate from the AARP discount. The hotel's IT people still don't have the kinks worked out on the booking process, but at least they're moving in the right direction. The point is, many big corporations may not be aware of how disaffected so many senior Americans are with AARP and need wake-up calls and/or certified letters.
As so many Republicans like to say, myself among them, we didn't leave the Democratic Party; the party left us. The same can be said for AARP. Let them live with the results.