The voting age shouldn’t be lowered


Credit: KSNB Local 4

A full-on direct democracy is a funny thing because it doesn’t really work in practice. Lowering the voting age to sixteen would not help democracy nor the republican system in place here today.

When an entirely-democratic system has many people who are probably not informed on the political situations going on in their own country, disaster generally happens (the election of nationalists in Europe in the 1920s and ’30s comes to mind). When there is no accountability for the broad amount of voters, no checks or balances, it can lead to what is called the “tyranny of the majority.” This is when a minority of people become oppressed by the decisions of the many. This can happen in any democracy, even the American republic-based democracy, but our government was designed to prevent it.

So why would anyone want the number of voters to increase by including younger teenagers as part of our system? The voting age in America has already been lowered from 21 to 18 (a decision made during the tumultuous political and social climate of the ’60s and ’70s). Since then, young people have not been seen as well-represented by the POTUS. Given the amount of life experience required to actually become president, it makes sense that there might be a generational divide of at least twenty years. Theodore Roosevelt, the youngest president ever elected, was 42 when he took office. This divide will almost always be an issue. It has been for years.

It’s important to note that many teenagers 16 and over in America do work and pay taxes and therefore may have a degree of emotional and political maturity that their peers lack. There are also plenty of student activists who possess this same kind of maturity (many adults seem to lack this maturity for some reason or another). Many of those activists also want the voting age to be lowered to 16 so that their fellow students can actively participate and not feel that their voices are being silenced by tyrannical governmental overlords.

The U.S. has had terrible voter turnout in the past couple of elections, anyway, so perhaps lowering the voting age could boost the number who actually participate in our democracy? After all, the youth vote can’t be entirely discounted, can it? But the real question here is: Do their fellow peers actually feel the same way?

However, people even above the age of 29 are still not necessarily people who make educated and informed decisions. Why would adding more people to the mix make our country better? Everyone has been a teenager at some point, and often times, their worldview can be just as askew and idealized as their elders. Teenagers are also notorious for not caring about politics. Would their demographic prove to be any different than, say, older people, who can also possess this same sort of attitude? It just doesn’t make sense to add to the pile of already-apathetic because even up until recently, it wasn’t easy for people to care about politics anyway. Most of them still don’t!

That isn’t to say that teens should be prevented from having their voices heard, as the Parkland students have proven. It just isn’t time for teens to vote because until more of them (and the rest of the country) actually start to care about these issues, it won’t make a difference in American politics.

Reed McCoy can be reached at [email protected] or @ReedMcCoy6 on Twitter.