The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
Founded in 1958 by Dr. Ethel Percy, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has been dedicated to addressing the needs and interests of older Americans. Percy felt that older Americans could attain a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment by remaining physically and intellectually active in society, thus came about his idea to form the AARP. The AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership organization open to anyone, working or retired, over the age of 50. Based in Wash-ington, D.C., the AARP pursues its goals through service, advocacy, and education. The AARP's ultimate goal is to help older Americans achieve lives of independence, dignity, and purpose. The AARP is spread nation wide through local chapters and is run mainly by volunteer board members at the local and national levels.
The 33 million members of the AARP can expect many benefits as well as support from the AARP. The wide range of services span anywhere from movie tickets to grants for re-search. The AARP also has many publications in the form of audio and publications. The most famous of these publications is the bimonthly Modern Maturity which targets all readers inter-ested in AARP issues.
The issues and goals the AARP advocates span a great deal throughout the political, economic, and social arena. While diverse in its areas of interest, the AARP mainly concentrates on social issues. Being a nonpartisan organization, the AARP does not nationally endorse or contribute any money to the campaigns of any candidate running for national positions including presidency. Politics in the AARP is basically left to the individual to decide whom he/she will support. The only participation the AARP takes is through the AARP/VOTE program. The goals of the AARP/VOTE program are to educate AARP members and the general public about important economic, health and consumer issues, and about the positions taken by candidates for public office on these issues. They also inform candidates and elected officials of AARP's positions on key policy issues and help elected officials be more responsive to the needs of their districts or states by promoting effective communication with their constituents. AARP/VOTE is successful because of its effective methods used to bring the candidate and constituent closer together. They use techniques such as candidate forums where the candidates visit local chapters, questionnaires that candidates fill out, and voter registration drives. Besides the AARP/Vote program, the AARP gets through political pressure from the grass roots level by a well structured system of events. This system of events can be summarized in four basic steps. The first being Obtaining Member Input. This step involves the local level members providing input about legislative issues of concern in any area. The input is provided in form of thousands of letters of concern which is reviewed by the National Legislative Council of the AARP. If enough support for an issue is found to be present among the majority of the members then it goes on to the next step which is the Decision Making of the National Legislative Council and Board of Directors. At this level, the National Council and Board of directors decide which issues to support and include these new issues into the AARP's federal and state policy agenda for the year. The Council and Board interact with Congressional and government leaders. Leaders read over and respond to the AARP's policy and debate over issues of concern. Once revisions are made to the policy agenda, a final draft is made and is distributed in many forms to anyone interested. The third step, Disseminating and Implementing Legislative Policy, includes lobbying in Washington D.C. and testifying regularly on Capitol Hill about the AARP's federal and state policy for that year. While action is being taken in Washington, the AARP is also educating members on the...
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