Senior Progressive Thinkers

5 mins read
Photo provided by the author.

When I first had the opportunity to attend a “Progressive Thinkers” meeting at a Senior Residence in New Jersey, I thought it would provide an opportunity to write an interesting piece about a group we don’t focus on a lot, the politically active senior.   

The age range of this group was 65 – 95 years old. Now that we are in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, I am acutely aware that the people I met at this meeting are part of the group that is in the most danger from this deadly new virus.  It’s even more important to me now to share these special people with you.

There are around 35 regular members of the Progressive Thinkers group, a number that increases when a candidate makes an appearance.  Many of these members are politically active in their communities. Denise, the club leader, is currently the Democratic committee member from her district.  Interestingly, like many of today’s activists, Denise was not politically active until 2016. She thought politics was a “dirty business”. After the 2016 election she started attending meetings and bringing the information she learned back to the Senior Residence.  Denise is also involved with the League of Women Voters (LWV), and she says she’ll stay involved with current issues from now on.

I had the opportunity to speak with several other members.  There was Marion, who always voted, but first got actively involved in the Obama campaign. She said she “can hardly breath when she thinks about Trump”.  Marion intends to support Democratic candidates in 2020.   

I also met Edith, who feels, like many young people, that climate change is the main issue we face.  She said, “anything else won’t matter” if we don’t save the planet.  

Joan told me that she’s been involved in current affairs since her father worked for the government.  She remembers watching the Army-McCarthy hearings, which had a significant impact on her. Joan carries voter registration forms with her and asks the staff at the residence, and the clerks at the supermarket, if they’re registered to vote.  

Brad has been politically active for much of his life.  He says he first voted in 1945, while serving in the Navy.  Brad has been a member of the League of Women Voters for 15 years and is still active in the group.  At one time Brad’s late wife was the head of the local LWV group, and together they registered voters for years.

While I was at the senior residence I also spoke with Noel, a Korean War veteran and lifelong active Democrat, and Gloria, who spent decades as a volunteer poll worker.  They taught all of their children to be politically active, and still are informed and involved voters.

The Progressive Thinkers meeting began with some quotes, including this one by Amos Wilson: “If you want to understand any problem in America, you need to focus on who profits from that problem, not who suffers from that problem”.  A discussion of local, state and national events followed, and a list of US Senators was distributed. One member brought copies of an article by frequent DemCast contributor Teri Kanefield, which he passed around to the group.  

It was inspiring to meet these engaged, active people who should serve as a reminder that we all need to work together to save our country. We all share the same passion for justice and progress.  We must not let ourselves be divided by age or generation. We need the enthusiasm of the young, and the wisdom of the old.  

So, to Denise, Marion, Edith, Joan, Brad, Gloria, Noel and the other wonderful people I met at the Senior Residence, please be careful.  Follow CDC guidelines and observe the recommendations about social distancing and handwashing. We need your voices and your votes!

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