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.
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.
S am 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."
P aul 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