Senioritis

A Mooresville businessman takes on AARP



John White says his organization offers a conservative alternative to AARP.

LOGAN CYRUS

John White sits on the deck of his Catawba County home, looking out at Lake Norman on a crisp December morning. The sunlight bounces off the water, its reflection undisturbed. A crow breaks the silence. White finds peace here even as, a few hundred miles up the road, President Obama prepares to give a White House briefing on issues that make his blood boil—debt, taxes, and gun control.

“Obama’s character is a scary thing,” he says. “It’s a scary thing.” The 63-year-old, who served on a nuclear submarine during Vietnam, believes the president doesn’t have the country’s best interests at heart.

That’s part of the reason he decided to launch the advocacy group National Association of Conservative Seniors last October. White runs a small advertising business that focuses on the medical industry. Many of the older people he meets believe no one in Washington is looking out for their needs. “They lose heart about what’s going on in the government,” White says. “Somebody’s gotta fight for them.”

White started spreading the word about his new organization to family, friends, and business contacts. He’s grown NAOCS to roughly 20,000 members from across the country, including many people upset with AARP.

“They’re really not standing up for conservative values,” he says of the politically powerful lobbying group for retirees. AARP did not endorse a candidate last year but drew the ire of conservatives when it backed health care reform in 2009.

White wanted to create an organization that mirrors AARP—but with an explicitly conservative slant. By lobbying policymakers and bombarding them with phone calls, he hopes to convince them to support “traditionally conservative values,” such as a strong military, lower taxes, and reduced spending. NAOCS members—who pay dues of up to $5 a month—can get discounts on everything from Vegas vacations to diabetic testing supplies. And “gold patriot” members can access an online click-to-call directory to reach lawmakers’ offices in Washington.

He spends his own money—into the six figures so far—to help fund the organization, which he runs from an office in his basement. His 27-year-old daughter, who shares his conservative beliefs, helps out a few hours a day. “I kinda drag them along,” he says of his family, chuckling.

As conservatives rally against the president in his second term, groups like White’s will become more common, predicts Michael Bitzer, a professor of political science at Catawba College. “This [organization] may be the next son or daughter of the Tea Party,” Bitzer says.

NAOCS started running national radio ads in December, and White hopes to hire a Christian lobbying firm soon. He wants to make sure lawmakers get the message. “I’m going to stay the course,” he says, “because I don’t think they should get away with what they get away with.”

 

 

More »Related Stories

The Story of Charlotte, Part 7: Bills of Rights

The mills bring growth and the city expands, giving Charlotteans the freedom to live in such faraway places as the new neighborhood of Dilworth. But after a series of political fights, many residents will soon feel the full grip of oppression

Split Tickets: Charlotte's Cultural Sector

Many large local arts organizations and shows are setting records. Big money is pouring into a major fundraising campaign led by Hugh McColl. But the news isn’t good everywhere. Smaller companies are struggling, with some even shutting down. Can Charlotte sustain both?

Dr. J. Michael Bitzer: The Professor on Speed Dial

When reporters need analysis of the Tillis-Hagan race—or any other political matter, really—they call him. So how did this bow tie-wearing, statistics-loving, Southern politics-following academic from Clemson become everybody’s go-to source?

What's for Breakfast?

We invite your responses and discussion. Please refrain from personal attacks, profanity, commercial promotion, or non sequiturs.

Add your comment:

Newsletters

Stay up-to-date on all things Charlotte by signing up for our newsletters. Learn more by clicking here.

Newsletter Sign Up
Email*
 

Blogs »


Dine & Dish

News, Notes, and Gossip About the Charlotte Restaurant Scene

Try This: Scallops at Nan & Byron's

Scallops are tricky, but Nan & Byron's new-ish head chef Kyle Rhodes has come up with a way to fuse the shellfish with classic fall flavors

Comments


Charlotte at Home

Creating Your Space in the Queen City

A Cheese Plate for the Tailgate

We consult the experts for a casual game-day assortment

Comments


Poking the Hornet's Nest

Greg Lacour on Politics

The Group That's Taking On 'Citizens United'

A national group with a Charlotte chapter is trying to drum up support for the abolition of corporate personhood. Are they dreamers, realists, or both?

Comments


Revue

Andy Smith on Charlotte Arts & Culture

This Weekend in Charlotte: Bachtoberfest, GUTS CLT, Halloween at the Haven

Comments


Dusk Till Dawn

Jarvis Holliday Chronicles Charlotte's Nightlife and Social Scene, Straight No Chaser

Buzz Fest, Celebrity DJs and Parties, Dogtoberfest, Grave Diggers Ball, Seahawks vs. Panthers Viewing Parties, and More - Oct. 23-26

The 20 social events and parties you should know about this Thursday through Sunday.

Comments