Some Political Advice from the Dance Floor: Don’t Just Stand There . . .

Susan Milligan is visiting six Election 2012 battleground states to talk with 50-plus voters for a report that will be published in the September issue of the AARP Bulletin. She posted this from Fairfax, Virginia.

Wanna shag?

It’s a question that might get your face slapped in a pub in England, where the word refers to an intimate encounter. But in Virginia and southward, shag is a couple’s dance. And at Icons, a popular restaurant and dance hall in Fairfax, Va., members of a local shag club – ranging in age from their 40s to their late 70s – talked, in between dances, about what they want from politicians this campaign year.

Many of them have been around long enough to see – and see through – all kinds of economic ups and downs. But this time, they say, government isn’t doing what it should be to lead the nation to economic recovery.

I expect to have unemployment up to a certain point,” Jack Jones, 63, a retired information technology specialist, tells me, calling it an unavoidable consequence of the financial meltdown of 2008. “In the meantime, I would like to see more emphasis on the infrastructure in this country.” That, Jones says, would create jobs while improving public works.

Why is Congress so dysfunctional?” wonders Kathy Norris, 55, who’s retired from her job at the International Monetary Fund. Too many people are unwilling to compromise, she says – referring both to lawmakers and to voters.

Sam Wray, 77, is enjoying his retirement from government service and the Air Force. With Social Security and his military-provided health care, he feels financially secure. But he worries about younger people – the ones who don’t have adequate health care. “Get the health program going so it’s sufficient for all Americans,” Wray says. “That’s the bottom line right now.”

Paul Young, a 58-year-old remodeling contractor, says he’s worried about the economy and doesn’t understand why lawmakers on Capitol Hill just can’t bring themselves to compromise. “They’re like two sides of a magnet,” he says, referring to Democrats and Republicans.

Can you hear, as I did, the frustration with gridlock in Washington? Tonight, though, it’s all about the shag, and the dance floor is one place where gridlock just doesn’t cut it. – Susan Milligan