Local seniors want their voices heard on election day
George Binswanger talks politics Oct. 26 as Lincolnwood Place seniors who have recently registered to vote discuss the election. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 31, 2012 5:41PM
LINCOLNWOOD — With Election Day on the horizon undecided senior voters in Lincolnwood know one thing is certain: Their voices will be heard at the ballot box.
Civic duty, tradition and maintaining the right to voice an opinion are a few reasons Lincolnwood Place residents said they expect to vote Tuesday when booths are brought to the senior retirement community.
This year Lincolnwood Place saw in uptick in voter applications. Village Clerk Beryl Herman said she typically registers and updates address information for 20 senior residents during an election year. In October she assisted 50 applicants.
“They were very enthusiastic about wanting to be sure that they were going to vote this year,” Herman said.
Some residents had participated in nearly every presidential election since they were first eligible to vote.
That was seven decades ago for 92-year-old George Binswanger. He said the 1944 election between Franklin Roosevelt and Thomas Dewey stood out over the years.
Binswanger, a retired U.S. Army colonel, was deployed during World War II and voted overseas. Back then servicemen stuck by their president, he said.
“My father was a stark Republican and I voted for Roosevelt,” he said. “I almost got disowned.“
Now Binswanger is a registered Republican. His wife, a Democrat.
Yet while today’s allegiance to left and right political groups have created a divide nationally, Binswanger and others said they prefer to vote by person and not along party lines.
“Even though I’ve always been a Democrat doesn’t mean I can’t vote for a Republican,” said Ruth Kung, 85.
Binswanger is new to traditionally blue-leaning Illinois. He moved to Lincolnwood a year ago after spending most of his life in swing states Philadelphia and Florida.
“A lot of people in Florida vote their conscience and not by party,” he said.
Toni Joseph, 85, expected new political factions, like the Tea Party, would make a difference in how people vote. She views a lack of bipartisanship as the biggest fault in government today.
“They each try to move a point but, meanwhile, they’re not accomplishing anything,” she said.
Iris Wenig, 74, agreed, adding: “If the legislators can’t get together, what does it matter who’s president?”
Wenig recalled fondly how people of different political backgrounds rallied behind President Ronald Reagan. His election was the first time the longtime Democrat from Chicago voted Republican.
“He had this message of ‘pull yourself up from your bootstraps’ and I liked that,” Wenig said.
“(Reagan) had a lot of people appeal,” Joseph added. “He knew what to say and when to say it. I think the average man on the street liked him.”
They the next president has important issues he must tackle, even if aging adults are personally doing well.
“None of us are looking for a job. All of us have Medicare. For us it’s not too bad,” Wenig said.
“But for our children and grandchildren is what we need to think about,” Kung said.
War and foreign policy are particularly concerning.
“I feel bad that we lost so many young men,” Joseph said.
Wenig would like to see better communication between countries so the U.S. could avoid world policing.
“I don’t want my 10-year-old grandchild to go to war,” she said.
The seniors said they would also like to see a revival in American manufacturing.
“To bring the businesses back I think that would really help our economy,” said Joseph, who grew up on rations through the Great Depression.
The best candidate to get the job has yet to be determined. Wenig made up her mind a week ago.
“I’m going to vote for Obama because I don’t want to jump ship in the middle of the ocean,” she said. “I’ll give him four more years and see what he can do.”
Joseph and Binswanger couldn’t say who would get their support Tuesday.
But someone will.