It’s election season and that means attack ads, overblown rhetoric, scare tactics, and tiptoeing around certain topics in mixed company. I don’t want to be left out so my original plan for this post was to compare the two major parties’ platforms in relation to issues of aging. So I read the platforms – something I admit I have never done before – and there I stopped, stuck, paralyzed, unable to move forward. I got mired in the rhetoric. I thought and pondered and tried to make some complicated and sophisticated analysis worthy of a PhD. And then I just avoided writing this (or any) post altogether because my plan wasn’t coming together as . . . Well . . . Planned.
But that’s just silly so here is my analysis.
The Republican plan is all about division and building walls.
Literally and figuratively. Literally because that thing about building a wall between us and Mexico? It’s not just a Trumpism, it’s in the official Republican platform and I quote: “. . . we support building a wall along our southern border and protecting all ports of entry. The border wall must cover the entirety of the southern border and must be sufficient to stop both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.”
They also want to build new and strengthen existing financial walls that make sure the haves keep having and the have-nots stay where they belong. It’s about money, markets, power, and control, not about people. It’s program and policies that lead to more stories like this about hard working people who are being screwed by marketplace solutions to social and human issues (in this case long-term care insurance). Privatizing is the Republican hammer for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. It’s a blunt, one-size-fits-all fix to complicated issues that need a lathe and maybe some hand carving, gentle sanding, and my woodworking knowledge just ran out but you get the point.
The Democratic platform is about breaking down barriers.
It’s about people and where money comes into the picture its as a tool to make sure everyone’s lives are better, not as an end in and of itself. It’s about finding creative ways to strengthen existing programs, not beating them down until they disappear. It’s about finding ways to make them work for us – remember us, the people? – not about focusing on the bottom line. It’s about the right to health care, the right to a secure retirement, the right to long term care when it’s needed. (Yes, right, not privilege).
And before I get too lost in soapbox rhetoric of my own, the Democratic platform actually has concrete plans for doing these things while the Republicans largely gloss over concrete suggestions because, you know, the markets will take care of all those little details for us.
Here are a few examples from the Democrats that are relative to issues of aging:
- Respite care and training for family and other informal caregivers;
- Good pay, improved access to training, and the ability to organize for the professional caregiving workforce;
- Cost-of-living adjustments in Social Security that actually match the reality of retirement spending;
- Higher taxes on those earning more and closing tax loopholes that benefit the super rich;
- Renewed and expanded commitment to community-based health and mental health centers and training and supporting for the workforce needed for these centers;
- Controlling price gouging in prescription drugs and prohibiting “pay for delay” deals that keep generics off the market.
I could continue, but I’ve made my point. The Republican platform only mentions older adults in passing and doesn’t refer to caregivers or long-term care services and supports at all. The Democratic platform puts people first.
And then there’s reality.
Now I’m not completely naive (or only a little and I prefer to think of it as hopeful and optimistic). I realize that the vision of an organization doesn’t match the messy reality of how things get done on the ground and that not every individual is on board with every part of the overall vision to begin with. But when the starting point is so strikingly different . . . ?
And here is where my call to action for today comes in.
I haven’t talked to anyone who is on the fence about the Presidential election and so I’m done with Trump and Clinton. (If you are undecided though, I’d love to hear from you about the why and how).
I’m more interested moving forward in the down ballot elections.
- 34 Senate seats,
- all 435 House seats
- 12 state and 2 territorial governorships
- and who knows how many local elections as well.
This is where those political platforms grow legs and start walking and this is where we can ask candidates questions and expect some decent dialog and talk to our friends and neighbors.
It’s easy to forget there are other elections going on. They’re not as media worthy. The sound bytes aren’t as interesting. But they may be even more important when it comes to social issues like caregiving, health care, and long term services and supports.