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Where We Stand: Voting for the Future

In September we capped our yearlong celebration of AARP’s 50th anniversary with an inspirational event on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and our Life@50+ National Event & Expo in Washington. Throughout it all, one message came through loud and clear: We can all make a difference.

We have a tremendous opportunity to do just that on November 4—by going to the polls, voting for the candidates of our choice and urging our friends, neighbors and family members to do the same.

At Life@50+, we heard directly from both Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama. This issue of the AARP Bulletin includes interviews in which the candidates highlight their priorities. Both care about our issues, and they clearly want our votes. And the two men offer different approaches to solving our nation’s problems, including those related to health care and financial security.

We’ve been out talking to members, and they tell us they want answers and accountability from the candidates. They want to know how candidates will pay for what they promise. Those are good questions, because our job is to learn as much as we can about their stands on the issues and decide which presidential and congressional candidates can best help us solve these tough problems.

This is a critical crossroads moment in American history and perhaps the most important election of our time. It will set us on a path that will determine what kind of life our children and grandchildren will have. Will they have affordable, quality health care? Will they have the opportunity to build lifelong financial security? Or will they be burdened by the mess and the bills we leave behind?

It’s no exaggeration to say that older voters will lead the way. In the 2006 national elections, more than half of all voters were people 50-plus. Now, in this election, we need to turn out in even higher numbers. This is a great opportunity for each of us to have a voice in deciding what direction America will take.

In September, as we stood at the Lincoln Memorial celebrating the legacy of AARP over the last 50 years, I was particularly moved by the words of Olympic swimmer Dara Torres, who won three silver medals in Beijing. This was her fifth Olympics, and she already had nine medals to her credit. So why try again at the age of 41? “You don’t put an age limit on your dreams,” she said. Dara said, too, she was doing it for Tessa, her 2-year-old daughter. Competing in the Beijing Summer Olympics was part of Dara’s legacy to her daughter.

What legacy are we leaving? Will we leave our children and grandchildren an America better than we found it? Their future is at stake in this election, and in the ensuing decisions we and our leaders make. Each one of us can make a difference in determining what that future will be. So we’ll see you at the polls.

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