What are the Forgotten Issues of this Election?
 A substantial number of the forgotten issues in this
election involve questions of intergenerational justice. Consider
Both the Hospital Insurance part of Medicare (Part A) and Social
Security are headed for bankruptcy-Medicare Part A in the next few
years, Social Security a few years down the road. Both are financed
by taxes on current workers, with the implicit promise that when
they retire, they will receive benefits comparable to what current
beneficiaries receive. That promise will not be kept.
After a brief period of budget surpluses in the 1990s, the
federal government is once again running up massive deficits, the
costs of which will be imposed on our children and grandchildren.
At a bare minimum, the funds needed to pay the interest on the
national debt will siphon off much-needed resources from education
and other worthy programs. Even worse, this massive debt could
adversely affect our economy and, in turn, the world economy,
resulting in loss of jobs and lack of economic opportunity.
Failure to encourage energy conservation and develop alternate
energy sources leaves our children and grandchildren hostage to
foreign producers whose agendas and commitment to human rights
might not be the same as ours. Spiraling energy costs could also
adversely affect job growth and economic opportunity.
 All of these problems (and others as well) are manageable if
addressed in a timely manner. All will be far more difficult to
deal with if ignored until they assume catastrophic
 Why are these problems being ignored? For a wide variety of
reasons including the following:
Addressing these problems requires making sacrifices.
Politicians rarely get elected by asking voters to make sacrifices.
Traditionally, Democrats get elected by promising expanded social
programs while Republicans get elected by promising tax cuts.
Meanwhile, the national debt continues to pile up and Medicare and
Social Security continue to careen down the road to
Relatively few younger Americans vote. In the 1972 presidential
election, 52 percent of the 18-24 year-olds eligible to vote did
so, with the number declining to 37 percent in the 2000
presidential election. The age-group with the best voter turnout is
those 65 years old and older, 67.6 percent of whom voted in 2000.
The political reality is that politicians pay the most attention to
the concerns of the age-groups that vote in the greatest
 Will candidates in future elections pay more attention to
issues of intergenerational justice? That's not likely unless a
greater number of younger Americans register to vote and show up at
the polls. Former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming put it this way
at a conference on intergenerational issues a few years ago: "Take
part or be taken apart."