January 09, 2018
Texas Seniors Are Developing a Winning Program
A Proposed Program for Texas Seniors
Texas activists will gather at 1PM on January 19 at the Downtown Sheraton in Austin for our biennial convention. It is an opportunity to plan a program for the organization’s next two years. My ideas presented here are meant to help stimulate and guide the discussion. –Gene Lantz
Where We Are
In recent times, living standards have deteriorated for most Americans who aren’t rich. Many of our past gains, especially in pensions and health care, are eroding. Social Security, once considered sacrosanct, is presently under attack. Texas retirees were largely caught unaware and many have as yet not grasped the problems we face nor embraced a solution. Some statistics indicate that older voters in general tend toward reaction, but that union retirees trend progressive.
Who We Are
Texas Alliance for Retired Americans was organized in 2006. We are an arm of the Alliance for Retired Americans, which was created by the AFL-CIO only a few years before. In many cases, our groups tend to grow from a nucleus of union retirees to include activists from the general public. We are a part of the progressive labor movement with some experienced union retirees and other retirees with no union connection. People are attracted to us because we are well informed, we show leadership, and, especially, because we take action.
How We Are Different
Even though we are part of the overall progressive movement, seniors have unique characteristics that should be recognized when planning a program.
- We have the highest voting participation of any age group
- We prefer daytime activities rather than evenings and weekends
- We tend to avoid night time events for safety reasons
- On the whole, we may not be as technically sophisticated as younger people
- Phone banking is more effective among seniors than among younger people
- Our basic issues are very similar, mainly pensions, health care, and Social Security
What We Have Done
Texas retirees have created activists’ chapters in all seven of the major metropolitan areas. They broaden the idea of “political activity” to include election work, petitioning, lobbying, and all kinds of public relations. We have informed, organized, and activated thousands of Texas seniors and our supporters. We have partnered, where possible, with other progressive organizations that can help further our retiree cause. We have demonstrated over and over that Texas seniors can be organized in their own groups and for their own causes. Never in history has there been a force in Texas as beneficial to the retiree cause.
What We Can Do
If it is true that the Texas senior vote has trended toward the reactionary, it is also true that union retirees are more progressive. For the past several years, we have inquired about this difference and come to understand the “why” of it. Union retirees have two political advantages over other Texas seniors:
- More political information
- Trustworthy leadership
Consequently, the way ahead for the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans is clear: We must provide more information and leadership for all Texas seniors. We do that with telecommunications. We do that with social media. We do that telephoning. We do that with organizing. We do that with speeches and public relations. We do that with public events.
The main objective task of 2018 is to swing Texas voters toward their own interests. Winning elections will lay the foundations for successful senior lobbying work when the Legislature meets in 2019.