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In a Bitter Election, A Friendly Chance for Open Discussion

The organizers hope this debate watch party in Richmond sparks an open, constructive discussion about the future of Social Security. (AARP Virginia)
The organizers hope this debate watch party in Richmond sparks an open, constructive discussion about the future of Social Security. (AARP Virginia)
October 19, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. - A debate watch party tonight in Richmond is intended as a chance for folks to set aside the bitter taste of the election, and organizers hope it'll help spotlight an issue they say needs bipartisan attention.

AARP Virginia is sponsoring the watch party at Baja Bean Co. on West Main Street. Peter Goldin, associate state director for federal advocacy at AARP Virginia, said they'll have students, seniors and at least one public official from each party there. It's free and open to the public, and Goldin said they're providing everything to foster an open discussion - if the crowd will do its part.

"Beverage and some appetizers," he said, "and sit with their friends, sit with their foes, but with someone of a different generation or someone of an opposing party."

The doors will open at 8:30 p.m. The event is part of AARP's Take A Stand campaign, intended to spark more discussion about the future of Social Security.

Goldin said Social Security has gotten nearly no attention so far in this election year, and only one question was asked about it during the vice-presidential debate. He said lawmakers need to focus on finding constructive solutions.

"There's no silver bullet," he said. "It's going to require cooperation on both sides. It's going to require some sacrifice. It's going to require a lot of leadership, and it's going to require people doing what's best."

One problem, he said, is that there's a lot of misinformation out there about Social Security's future. At AARP, they often hear one of two viewpoints from the young people they talk with.

"They're young and invincible and they're going to make a ton of money, and they'll be well secured in their retirement," he said, "or they've been hearing for so long that Social Security is going bankrupt and it won't be there for them anyway."

Delegate Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, and Chris Peace, R-Hanover, will attend the watch party and also be part of a Facebook live conversation immediately before and after the debate.

More information is online at states.aarp.org.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA