Post by Asiah Gayfield, student at Butler University Indianapolis, IN
Social Security was on the minds of Alliance Members all over the country as they tuned to President Obama’s State of the Union address on January 25, 2011. Members gathered in living rooms, community centers, and restaurants to hear what the President would say about the state of the country, the growing national deficit, and if Social Security would play a part in helping to pay down that deficit (which Social Security does not and cannot by law contribute to).
Seniors citizens were no doubt relieved, and some where even moved to cheer, when the President declared “To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. We must do it…without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.”
The watch parties were not only a way for members to socialize as they watched the important event, but were also incubators of great discussions. One group of energized seniors in Gig Harbor, Washington spent three hours at their State of the Union gathering both watching and discussing the President’s speech, including their ideas about Social Security and health care reform. A group of senior activists in Toledo, Ohio made up their own criteria to grade the President on before his speech and stayed after to discuss what grade the President should receive. And another group in Tucson, Arizona were so inspired by the Presidents speech they decided they were going to follow up with their Member of Congress.
When asked about their opinions of the State of the Union address, party participants had great things to say. A retiree from Arizona exclaimed, “It was really positive – he’s on our side!” Another retiree from Washington summed up the whole speech by saying, “Obama hit that out of the park!” Many retirees even ventured out on a limb and tried their hand at new technologies by using the popular websites Youtube and Twitter to share their feelings about the State of the Union and the Republican responses. The Arizona Alliance, for example, tweeted on their Twitter account http://twitter.com/azretiredams while the Florida Alliance hosted a member teleconference call throughout the State of the Union Address and a press conference call afterwards. FLARA then posted video responses from members and part of the press conference call on YouTube here.
The success of the State of the Union watch parties underscores the value of holding such events because they are a mobilization tool to help organize seniors to discuss current events and respond to them as they happen, in real time.
Response from Doug Hart, Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans President
Slideshow (watch parties & events across the country featuring AZ, CA, CT, IA, IN, NH, OH, TX & WA)
Photos: above at right ~ top to bottom: Connecticut, New Hampsire and Indiana Alliance parties