DRAFT STATEMENT FOR DISCUSSION
A specter is haunting the United States; the specter of a gray tsunami of embattled, angry elders who know how to organize and how to stand against injustice wherever it occurs.
We want to come together as elders to deploy our organizing experience, and yes, the power of our numbers, perspective, analysis, and ability to strategize. The sum of our various struggles, individually and collectively, means that we have been fighting against war, oppression and exploitation for decades.
As we organize all elders, we are committed to reaching out, recruiting, and bringing people of color, who constitute the global majority, into every virtual and in-person space of our movement, leadership, program, goals, and planning.
We elders recognize and deeply understand this society’s ongoing racism and white supremacy, oppression of nationalities, ageism, sexism and misogyny, homophobia, militarism, imperialism, colonialism, xenophobia, anti-immigrant policies, islamophobia, anti-semitism, fascist ideology and genocide, and are committed to ending all of these evils. The struggles against oppression in all its forms and manifestations should be central to all our struggles as elders, who as a group are being targeted now in ways that threaten our very survival.
United we are an irresistible force!
Beginning with the early 1980s under President Ronald Reagan, a string of governments in Washington, Republican and Democrat, have conspired to hack away at programs critical to the survival of the elderly. Decades of deindustrialization, an increasingly weakened union movement, vanishing jobs, cuts in social programs, declining unemployment benefits, and a federal minimum wage that, substandard to begin with, has not been raised in 11 years, have together left older workers with reduced or no pensions, and without savings. Meanwhile a deliberate action by Congress to consistently low-ball inflation adjustments of Social Security benefits has caused benefit checks to shrink in buying power by a devastating 30 percent just since the year 2000.
Medicare, established in 1965 and critical to the healthcare of elders and the disabled since its founding, is being rapidly eroded through cuts and bait-and-switch privatization schemes like “Medicare Advantage.” While access to health care by elders and disabled has improved since the early ‘60s, many elders today pay more for their Medicare than their forbears were paying before the program began!
As the elderly struggle to survive, election and voter registration restrictions being adopted in over 30 states, in an undisguised attempt to shut down voting by people of color, also impact all elders. Requirements for a state photo ID, limitations on the number of voting places, the elimination or reduction of drop boxes, outright restriction of absentee voting, and other measures strip all of us of our democratic rights.
Even as the wealthiest nation on earth spends over half of its annual discretionary budget on the military, intelligence and wars; even as it is fleeing the disaster of the lost 20-year war on Afghanistan, the United States government is intensifying yet another war: a war on its own elderly and disabled.
But the demographics are on our side. Thirty percent of Americans are 55 or older, many dependent upon Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They, as well as those nearing retirement age, are worried about the fate of those programs. By 2030, that percentage will rise to 35 percent, and those over 65 will, for the first time in history, outnumber those under 19.
And remember, elders have a huge base of allies in our fight for survival: our own kids and grandkids, none of whom want to see us left destitute and without public health care. Adding them to our number, we are a vast majority.
Trump’s huge base of right-wing support has many fearing the US has entered an age of reaction, but we believe we’re on the cusp of a new radical era of social change.
- It is time fight to make Social Security a livable federal pension, to win expanded government-funded health care for all, and an end to a profit-based pharmaceutical industry.
- We need reliable and affordable public transit networks that decrease the reliance and public subsidy of automobiles and fossil fuels.
- We need decent subsidized, low-income cooperative, as well as affordable public housing.
- We demand well-funded excellent public schools, as well as free public college for our own children and grandkids.
- We want a habitable earth for future generations, and a political/economic system that confronts the challenges of climate change, protects clean water and air, and ends world hunger and disease.
- We want a government that responds to our needs and demands, not that engages in wars and empire building, spending trillions of dollars on the military while catering to the demands of huge corporations and the billionaire class.
As organizers of a proposed new Radical Elders organization, we are confident that there are thousands in this country ready to rally to our cause, and that there are millions of elders for whom a radical message of “Fight Back, Not Give Back” will resonate.
We intend to explore how to launch such an organization, not just for the improvement of all elders’ lives, but to unite around issues in a way that exposes the institutional racism, sexism and bigotry and the warped ethics, morality, motivations, ideology and unsustainability of our present society.
The time is ripe for a radical elders organization that can share and build on our experiences and can work with others groups and organizers to develop a program of resolute activism to turn this nation into a cooperative and compassionate socialist society that guarantees everyone a secure, full and productive life.
We expect such an organization to reflect the real, beautiful and expansive diversity of our generations, and to be democratic in its operation.
We who have lived rich lives of struggle, with victories and losses, fight not only for ourselves, but for our children, grandchildren and those yet unborn. Let the ruling class tremble at the rise of Elders!
DRAFT POINTS OF UNITY
Since the late 1960’s a string of governments in Washington, Republican and Democrat, have attacked programs critical to the survival of the elderly, that along with cuts in social programs, unemployment benefits, a substandard federal minimum wage, reduced pensions, the erosion of Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare make it necessary to develop a program of resolute activism. We believe that the time is ripe for a radical elders organization that can build on our experiences and the power of our numbers for a Fight Back, Not Give Back movement. Such a movement should be based on:
1. The struggle against systematic racism and white supremacy; oppression of nationalities, ageism, sexism and misogyny, homophobia, militarism, imperialism, colonialism, xenophobia, anti-immigrant policies, islamophobia, anti-semitism, fascist ideology and genocide, and are committed to ending all of these evils.. We are committed to ending these evils. Indigenous, Black, Latinx, Asians, and all people of color, after lifetimes of attack by systemic racist and oppressive policies experience escalations of these institutional assaults if they make it to elderhood. Fighting to end these policies is a life and death matter for them and white elders alike. 2. A commitment, as we organize all elders, to reaching out, recruiting, and bringing people of color, who constitute the global majority, into every virtual and in-person space of our movement, leadership, program, goals, and planning. 3. Fighting for a government that reflects and responds to our needs and demands, not one who engages in wars and empire building, spending trillions on the military while catering to the demands of corporations and billionaire class. We demand a government that ends U.S. imperialism and a policy of permanent war and slashes the military budget to one appropriate for a nation at peace. 4. Opposition to election and voter registration restrictions being adopted in over 30 states, in an undisguised attempt to shut down voting by people of color, but whose impact similarly affects most elders, stripping us of our democratic rights. 5. Making Social Security a livable federal pension, replacing Medicare and Medicaid with a universal program of government-funded health care for all, and an end to a profit-based pharmaceutical industry. 6. Developing a political/economic system that confronts the challenges of climate change, ends world hunger and disease, protects clean water and air, reduces the reliance and public subsidy of fossil fuels. 7. Demands for subsidized, low-income cooperatives, affordable public housing, well-funded, excellent public schools, and free public college education.
We intend to explore how to launch such an organization that can share and build on our experiences as elder movement activists, not just for the improvement of the elderly, but to work with others around issues in a way that exposes the warped ethics, morality, motivations, ideology and the unsustainability of our present society.
THE “QUICK-LOOK PLATFORM”
This “platform” is drafted as a quick look document to initially explain to people what it is we are seeking. Like everything else, it is only a draft and subject to editing by all participants.
We demand respect for and appreciation of elder people and a life in which we can be certain that:
– we are all guaranteed a livable federal pension
– we have full access to government-funded health care including free primary care, specialized care, hospitalization, medications and well-being/good health maintenance
– we have guaranteed housing that preserves our privacy and access to family and friends, respects our dignity and prioritizes our security.
– we have access to a national program of effective public transportation both urban and rural.
– we have full and free access to all education at all levels.
– we have have full and easy access to all voting places.
– we can be confident that we’re not the last generation of humanity and that our children and grand-children will have the lives we have worked to give them, that our society will do everything to confront the challenges of climate change, end world hunger and disease, protect clean water and air, stop all public subsidies of fossil fuels and fossil fuel projects and ensure the rights of all people regardless of race, ethnicity, language, religion or gender identity.