Seniors find more time for politics

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 7, 2000

Senior citizens are finding added benefits to age, including the time to study politics and become more involved the political process.

To inform themselves on where the candidates stand on such issues, senior citizens consult as large a variety of sources just as the rest of the population.

Those include television, newspapers, newsletters from political parties and the American Association of Retired People, and the Internet.

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&uot;We get CNN, MSNBC and CNBC,&uot; said Doris Talley of Vidalia, La. &uot;At noontime, we start watching and watch for two hours, then go back and watch some more at 4 o’clock.&uot;

They also get information from talking with their peers, most of whom are keeping a close eye on the election and discussing the issues among themselves.

The man and not the party

Locally, most said they are more involved and interested in politics than they were when they first started voting, although many said they have always voted and had some interest in politics.

&uot;I used to vote along party lines, but now I vote for the person who’s most in line with what I need and want … the person that impresses me the most,&uot; said Dorothy McDonald, a senior citizen who is also director of the Concordia Council on Aging.

Yvonne Robbins, a senior citizen and director of Natchez Veterans Services, said she has also learned to &uot;vote for the man and not the party.&uot;

Like most older voters in the Miss-Lou, Robbins said she was raised on party politics.

&uot;Down here you were born Democrat. It was your religion,&uot; she said.

But, time and experience have changed her mind, and Robbins said she now looks to the candidate’s platforms when making her decision — &uot;just to figure out what they stand for.&uot;

Less to do

Most seniors agreed their interest in politics has grown as they have gotten older, and for some, that translates to involvement on the local level.

&uot;I’ve got the time to get more involved now, because when I was young I&160;was in the military and always traveling,&uot;&160;said Joel Parker, a Concordia Parish retiree. &uot;Now I’m on the Republican Executive Council in the parish and spend a good bit of time trying to register others (to vote).&uot;

Senior citizens’ political interest varies greatly nationwide, according to a 1997 AARP survey. Only 27 percent of respondents reported being involved in political activities. But 70 percent said they are either &uot;very&uot; or &uot;somewhat&uot;&160;interested in national politics.

Silvis Goff, 87, summed up the trend of increased interest in older Americans. &uot;When you get older, you’ve got less to do,&uot; she said simply.

The more things change …

While many seniors agree with Goff’s conclusion, they hold various opinions about how politics have changed during their lifetimes.

&uot;A politician is still a politician,&uot; Robbin said.

M.K. Cassels, 82, also believes the more things change, the more they stay the same.

&uot;Humans are just the same as they were in Biblical times,&uot; he said. &uot;It was rotten in the beginning and it’s rotten now.&uot;

Parker said campaigns require much more money today that in the past. &uot;It takes so much money to run for office now,&uot; he said.

Slay said it’s that money that makes him much more distrustful of politicians now than when he cast his first vote.

&uot;Used to, what the government said, you would take it and that was it,&uot; he said. &uot;Now, it’s whoever’s got the money is in control.&uot;

Eddie Verucchi, 61, has also become disillusioned with politics, particularly with this year’s presidential race. Some days, he threatens not to vote at all.

&uot;(It used to be) You could really vote for the man,&uot; Verucchi said. &uot;Now they get in there and forget everything they said.&uot;.

Calling politicians promises to reform health care for the elderly a &uot;joke,&uot; Verucchi said: &uot;They’re not doing anything but lying to seniors.&uot;

Others, more optimistic, said politicians seem to take more pains to articulate their platforms to voters than they did years or decades ago.

Also, candidates run for office more as individuals now, while in years past voters tending to vote more along party lines, McDonald said.