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As a lifelong political junkie, I’m looking forward to next week’s presidential debates like a sports fan looks forward to a playoff game. Now that I’m in my 50s, watching the televised debates won’t be quite the party occasion that it might have been 30-odd years ago, when friends and I would liven things up by taking a swig of beer every time one of the candidates mentioned the word “jobs” or “taxes.” Still, it should be fun to see President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney really face off on the issues — instead of just attacking each other in stump speeches and campaign ads.

Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t look like the issues most relevant to me right now will be on the agenda. Last week, PBS’s Jim Lehrer, the moderator of the first presidential debate (Oct. 3 in Denver) said that the 90-minute event will be divided into six segments: the first three on the economy (Jobs! Taxes!) and the last three on health care, the role of government and governing. No mention at all of Social Security and Medicare — subjects of great concern to aging boomers like me.

What’s up with that?

It’s not too late to try to make sure those issues are front and center. “Any meaningful discussion of the economy and this year’s election has to include the future of these critical retirement security programs,” AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond said in a statement released after the debate topics were announced.

If you agree, I hope you’ll join in urging Lehrer to make sure that his questions force the candidates to address these issues. We’ve made it super easy: Just click here.

And have fun watching the debates! Hey, maybe you could even think about making it a party. At my house, we’ll be taking a sip of cabernet every time one of the candidates mentions the words we’re hoping to hear: Medicare! Social Security! —Mary C. Hickey

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