When it comes to the issues affecting Baby Boomers and other aging Americans, AARP tries to be informative, particularly in an election year.
But AARP, by its very nature, is also an advocacy organization for older Americans, and some believe its advocacy has crossed the line to a downright endorsement of the policies of the Obama Administration.
Its information arm, through its web site and AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin, provides a slew of reports and information designed to keep us up to date on everything from an aging Mick Jagger to boomeraging children.
In its September 2012 AARP Bulletin, it provided a good look at the important battleground states in the 2012 presidential election as they apply to the needs of 50-plus voters.
The swing states are Missouri, Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire, Ohio and Nevada. The issues are health care, Medicare/Social Security, women, role of government, economy/jobs, and the housing market.
The piece doesn’t advocate for or against the candidacies of President Barack Obama or former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican challenger.
But there are some who believe the organization’s advocacy has skewed too far of center to favor Obama, dating back to the fight to bring his health care legislation to law. That advocacy cost the organization some membership.
Now some argue that the organization is advocating too much again, this time for Obama’s reelection.
A recent op-ed report in the Wall Street Journal asked the question: “How can that lobby claim to speak for American seniors given its partisan role in passing ObamaCare?”
In other words, AARP has become to the Obama White House, what Fox News has become to the Republican agenda. It appears to be one thing when in fact it is another.
AARP held forums at its convention in New Orleans last week for the two parties. Obama addressed the group and was cheered. GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan addressed the group and was jeered.
AARP’s power of influence and its role in American politics and policy isn’t anything new.
Author Frederick R. Lynch explored the notion in his 2011 book “One Nation Under AARP, the Fight over Medicare, Social Security, and America’s future.”
Of course, advocacy, like art, is in the eye of the beholder.
Those who agree with the notion that Social Security and Medicare should remain government programs will agree with AARP’s position to, with some tweaking, keep them that way.
Those who agree with the Romney/Ryan/Republican approach to make some largerscale changes, particularly for those who will enter the system in the years ahead, will disagree with that advocacy.
How the election will play out is a toss-up, with or without AARP. Last time around, in the 2008 contest between Obama and Republican John McCain, Baby Boomer voters were pretty much split right down the middle. It’s likely to remain so in 2012.