Copyright © 2004 Henrietta W. Hay
September 17, 2004
Last Sunday was National Grandparents Day. It was the day after the observance of 9/11, that awful day of horror which we were remembering.
But Sunday was a day to move forward, celebrating the achievements of our elders and looking to the future.
This year's Presidential election is getting meaner by the day. So far the candidates are concentrating on the past and on personal attacks. But thinking grandparents are concerned with what the future holds for their grandchildren.
Ellen Goodman writes, "For most of my friends, joining grandparenthood is one of the turning points of life when you are again projected into the future. Yet politicians deal with the new generation of grandparents as if all we cared about were Social Security, prescription drugs and Medicaire.
What if we encourage grandparents to think of ourselves as a political power and challenge politicians to think less about 'greedy geezers' and more about grandparents?"
And there are plenty of us out there. There are 70 million grandparents in America, one third of all adults. And if you think of granny as a little old lady in a rocker, their average age is 48.
Grandparents come in all colors, sizes and shapes (literally). We come on all economic levels. Some of us live close to our grandchildren. Some don't. Some have one or two of the little rugrats. Some have a whole crew. Many help raise our grandchildren. Many don't. But most of us have one thing in common -- deep love for our grandchildren and a serious concern for their future.
As has happened so often before in American history, a small group of women sitting around talking about their concerns has started a major movement.
These women, all in their sixties, all grandmothers, were discussing the joys and problems of their relatively new grandmotherhood. When the conversation got into politics a new organization emerged -- Granny Voters.
On National Grandparents Day, last Sunday, women activists representing a new generation of grandparents, kicked off Granny Voter, a movement to urge these senior citizens to use their voting power to become advocates and trustees of the future and vote for their grandchildren on Election Day 2004. Their web site, http://www.grannyvoter.org, features a granny in a flying rocking chair.
The founders say it is an effort to shift the political conversation from short term benefits to the long-term impact of policies and to broaden the view political candidates have of older American voters, especially those who are grandparents.
Some of the questions Granny Vote is asking and that I want to hear the candidates answer are:
- Will our grandchildren have a chance for decent jobs, good education and adequate healthcare?
- Will our grandchildren live in a world of polluted air and water and disrupted climate?
- Will our grandchildren carry a burden of debt for today's spending?
- Will our grandchildren have the same rights we have today and be able to speak their minds openly and freely?
- Will our grandchildren face rage and resentment created by the policies our government pursues?
Pat Schroeder wrote, "My generation were the activists in the '60s who are now in their 60s. We are tackling grandparenthood with the same vigor we tackled other conventional wisdom. Twenty-first-century grandparents are focusing on the future instead of dwelling on the past. Watch out, because there are lots of us - and we vote, big-time."