Will the “Age Wave” Make or Break America? The Questions That Trump, Clinton and Sanders Must Answer
Two-thirds of all the people who have ever lived past the age of 65 in the entire history of the world are alive today. For a more local reference, when our Constitution was crafted, the average life expectancy in the U.S. was barely 36 years and the median age was a mere 16. During the time of our founding fathers, there was no anticipation of an “age wave.” In this regard, we are living in truly unchartered territory and longevity is humanity’s new frontier. As the baby boomers turn 70 at the rate of 10,000 a day, America is becoming a “gerontocracy.” Already, 42% of the entire federal budget is spent on Medicare and Social Security. In the 2012 election, older adults out-powered all other age groups with 72% of men and women 65+ voting, while only 45% of those 18-29 did.
This demographic transformation will create new lifestyle, social contribution, and marketplace opportunities as well as potentially devastating medical, fiscal, and intergenerational crises. Are we prepared? NO. Are Trump, Clinton and Sanders addressing this “age wave” and offering innovative solutions? NO. Has the political media of all persuasions been covering this issue and all its facets in proportion to its social, political and economic importance? NO. I have watched every minute of every debate and I am outraged that these core issues have not been meaningfully covered.
Based on 40 years of research, dialogue, analysis, and activism on aging, I have come to believe that there are five essential transpartisan issues that must be addressed if our newfound longevity is to be a triumph rather than a tragedy.