Today is the day that aging Tea Partiers across the country are supposed to burn their AARP cards to protest the group’s support for health care reform. At least, that's what one right-wing blogger is encouraging them to do. Last week, self-described "Tea Party Patriot" Sam Mela announced the "1st Tea Party Winter Fest for Health Care Freedom & AARP Card Burning":
The Tea Party Movement is initiating a nation-wide AARP Card Burning, on the first day of winter, December 21, 2009. This is in response to AARP’s duplicitous stance in support of Congress’ attempted thievery of ample health care away from the American people. This response is being called for due to the fact that Congress has turned a deaf ear to the will of the American people, one of the most vulnerable groups of our society, our American Seniors….
Don’t forget your lighters, AARP cards and any other AARP printed material/mailings; home made cards a/or signs…you could even dress up like Santa, or his elves, Scrooge, Tiny Tim, whatever your favorite Christmas character…don’t forget your cameras & video recorders! If YOU don’t send this message NOW, the die will be cast!
It seems unlikely that more than a few stragglers will turn out in Santa suits today to torch their membership cards (and a good thing, too, since as one of my the readers of my Unsilent Generation blog pointed out, the cards are plastic, so they won't burn so much as "melt and make a big stink"). When a West Virginia Tea Party organizer called for a day of AARP card burnings earlier this month, the only reports were of a half-dozen protesters huddled around a fire in Charleston. But this hasn’t stopped Republican politicians from picking up the battle cry. John McCain recently urged AARP members to trash their cards both in Arizona speeches and on the Senate floor. (To his credit, McCain told them to cut the cards in half and send them back to AARP, rather than burn them.)
None of this represents much of a threat to AARP. Although the group has lost tens of thousands of members over the health care reform issue, that’s a tiny fraction of its 45 million total. President Obama and Democratic senators have been making much of AARP’s support for the reform legislation, leading Sam Mela, in a post yesterday, to lament the fact that "in terms of Public Relations and Public Perception, the AARP has been able to steamroll over the Tea Party movement, without encountering even token resistance, although it would have been a simple matter for the Tea Partiers to neutralize them at any time."