Juan Williams: Seniors get nothing by voting for the GOP
I turned 68 years old this year.
I did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016 or 2020.
I will not be voting Republican in this year’s midterms.
But polls show people over 65 leaning heavily Republican this November. An Economist/YouGov poll released Aug. 1 gave the GOP a 15-point advantage with this group.
To me, that means seniors will be voting against their own best interest.
Just last week, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said Social Security and Medicare should no longer be guaranteed as mandatory for seniors. He favors having them reviewed by Congress every year.
That fits with a plan outlined by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) to allow Social Security and Medicare to expire every five years unless renewed by a vote in Congress. Scott, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is basically calling for an end to the social safety net for my over-65 crowd.
Why are seniors voting for Republicans when congressional Democrats are protecting entitlements key to their economic survival?
Democrats are also on the verge of saving seniors money by making their prescription drugs cheaper.
Legislation passed by the Senate on Sunday allows Medicare to negotiate prices with prescription drug manufacturers; caps out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare recipients at $2,000; and increases the prescription drug subsidies for seniors on low incomes.
“Why would we create a situation where we’re at the mercy of the drug companies to pay whatever they charge?” AARP senior vice president Bill Sweeney asked.
In addition, the Democrats’ bill — expected to be passed by the House this week and signed by President Biden soon afterward — includes money to boost the Affordable Care Act’s ability to keep down the cost of health insurance, again benefitting seniors, directly or indirectly.
Which party is doing the best job of handling COVID-19?
Senior citizens — people over 65 — account for 16 percent of the U.S. population but 75 percent of deaths from COVID, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The best way to prevent seniors from dying or being hospitalized from COVID is vaccination.
Congressional Democrats backed Biden administration spending on a successful mass vaccination campaign.
Currently, 79 percent of Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Sixty-seven percent of Americans are fully vaccinated.
When COVID shut down the economy in 2020 and 2021, the Democrats acted without a single GOP vote to pass the American Rescue Plan. The emergency bill sent 90 percent of American households stimulus checks to keep the economy going. That was a big benefit to the high percentage of seniors in poverty.
Keep in mind, Democrats acted for seniors even after senior voters voted for Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race by 52 percent to 47 percent, according to exit polls.
Four years previously, people over the age of 65 voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton by 7 percentage points.
Republicans did not reward those voters with backing for social safety net programs for seniors – Social Security and Medicare. And they are not backing legislation to cut the cost of prescription drugs.
But seniors keep voting for Republicans.
It is worth noting that, as of 2019, 81 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters were white, according to Pew Research.
Those voters could be supporting Republicans due to discomfort with rising racial diversity and immigration.
Norman Lear, producer of the television show “All in the Family,” turned 100 this year. The most famous character he ever put on TV was a white senior citizen, Archie Bunker.
In an essay last month for The New York Times, Lear said Bunker likely would have been a Trump voter in 2016. But he added:
“For all his faults, Archie loved his country, and he loved his family, even when they called him out on his ignorance and bigotries.”
“But I think that the sight of the American flag being used [by Trump supporters] to attack Capitol Police would have sickened him. I hope that the resolve shown by Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, and their commitment to exposing the truth, would have won his respect.”
One final Republican insult to senior citizens is the constant attack on President Biden’s age.
At every turn, they suggest the 79-year-old is mentally weak. They say he fell off a bike. They say he stumbled over the steps to Air Force One. He walks like an old man.
What about the fact that Biden is still riding a bike, keeping a demanding schedule, killing terrorists, and beating back Russian aggression?
Also curious is the GOP indifference to insulting older voters for being like Biden – old.
Trump is 76. The current Republican leader in the Senate, Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) is 80.
President Reagan, a hero to Republicans, was 77 when he left office.
Yes, the coarsening of our culture and the abandonment of traditional values unsettles seniors. That includes me and I’m a black immigrant.
Yes, the snarky disrespect and ingratitude of millennials — “Ok, Boomer” — irritates the hell out of me.
But voting for people who are talking about cutting Social Security, lying about stolen elections, and backing violent riots on Capitol Hill is self-hate for seniors.
As my old man once advised, it is “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”
Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.