It is frequently said that wisdom comes with age, but the AARP’s new survey of Georgia voters is enough to make you doubtful.
The American Association of Retired Persons, an organization dedicated to protecting the privileges of those 50 and older, surveyed 1,183 likely voters in the Peach State about the upcoming runoff election between Sen. Raphael Warnock and football star Hershel Walker.
Warnock held a narrow lead, 51% to 47%, over Walker among all voters polled. But among those aged 50 and older, Walker leads by 9 points, while among voters aged 18-49, Warnock is ahead by 24 points, according to the survey released Tuesday.
What do Georgia seniors know that the younger generations don’t? Very little, it seems.
Warnock is an ordained Baptist minister, senior pastor of Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, from which Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. launched the civil rights movement. He entered politics as an activist supporting expansion of Medicaid to aid Georgia’s poorest. He has two children, but is now divorced. He is pro-choice, favors strict gun-control laws, supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, has sought to expand voting rights and has led the Senate in passing key agriculture legislation affecting Georgia.
Walker was a football star at the University of Georgia and went on to play for the NFL and then start a food service business of questionable reputation. He has one child from his first marriage, three children outside of marriage, and has reportedly paid for two abortions by other women. He supports family values, opposes abortion, believes the world “has enough trees” to prevent climate change, says the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and humbly acknowledges “I’m not that smart.”
Of course, there’s one other difference. Warnock is a Democrat and Walker is a Republican.
Perhaps older Georgians are viewing the runoff with cynical wisdom, supporting Walker as a pawn in the Republican Party’s agenda.
More likely, they’re simply listening to Fox News every night (or even all day) and accepting that network’s drumbeat of victimization. After all, Fox News viewers skew way older than those of any other network.
Warnock is Georgia’s first Black senator, a milestone in a state that was the center of the Confederacy. Among Black voters aged 50 and older in the AARP poll, Warnock holds an overwhelming 83-point lead. Maybe Black voters are afraid that Walker will be a disgrace.
Luckily younger voters in Georgia clearly see Walker for what he is — another celebrity backed by Trump seeking the national political spotlight.
The great poet Robert Frost cautioned that we must listen to the young. His 1928 poem “What Fifty Said” is apropos to the AARP survey:
When I was young my teachers were the old.
I gave up fire for form till I was cold.
I suffered like a metal being cast.
I went to school to age to learn the past.
Now when I am old my teachers are the young.
What can't be molded must be cracked and sprung.
I strain at lessons fit to start a suture.
I go to school to youth to learn the future.
Personally I’m well into my senior years, but I’m counting on younger voters to make the right choices and preserve American democracy.
Chris Jennewein is editor and publisher of Times of San Diego.