The Importance of Older Adults Engaging in Politics
Democracy is at its most powerful when we all participate. These past four years have demonstrated the vital importance of using our voices and staying civically engaged. Now and always, older adults have played an essential role in our political process and climate. Older adults involving themselves in and engaging in politics is endlessly important — and here’s why.
A Sage Quality
First and foremost, our name (and the word) sage applies here. Older adults are the keepers of history; the storytellers; the parents, grandparents and neighbors that have gathered life experiences and now share their sagacity and wisdom with others. Older adults have seen politics unfold across numerous crises and elections and, imbued with experience, approach engaging in politics with a thoughtfulness those without the same wealth of knowledge simply can’t.
Your voice is powerful, too — it is perhaps because of this aforementioned sagacity that older adults are the group most likely to vote. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the 2016 election saw 71% voter turnout overall from the population of Americans 65+ years of age, compared to 46% voter turnout overall in Americans 18-29. And despite record youth voter turnout in 2020 (up from 46% to now 52-55%), older adults’ standout voter turnout numbers made up a whopping 25% of all total votes cast in the 2020 presidential election.
All this goes to show that people over 65 continue to show up at the polls far more than any other age group. Not only that, but the number of people that fall into the “older adult” age group continues to rise each year. Older adults — and your willingness to show up — has the power to sway elections and make change.
Civic Engagement Beyond Voting
Civic engagement goes beyond voting to cover a broad swath of behaviors, including being involved in political campaigns, participating in paid and unpaid community work, staying up to date on news and public affairs and even helping one’s neighbor.
Oftentimes, volunteerism is the most emphasized of these participation methods. However, not all older adults are retired. Many continue to work to make a living wage, have become full-time caregivers of their loved ones, stepped in to take care of grandchildren or have otherwise hefty responsibilities and time commitments.
Nevertheless, older adults are invaluable community members who command respect and have much to share and teach others. Whether it’s doing a favor for a neighbor, having conversations with family members or joining a local grassroots organization in a capacity that best suits your abilities, older adults’ engagement in politics is important, powerful and part of vibrant living.