I Don’t Want Your Kid to Vote
By: Warner Todd Huston
Every election year we are presented with stories about the vaunted “youth vote.” We are told how we must get the kids to the polls, we are told that the candidates are working hard to court the youth vote and we are given story after story of the efforts of one organization or another that is trying to excite young people to vote. We are presented with these stories as if it is a good thing that kids under 21 should vote, that it is somehow a desired thing. Well, I am going to say right here and now that I don’t want anyone under the age of 21 to vote. So, please, do keep your uninformed kid home on Election Day.
Many people will recall the reported words of the venerable Ben Franklin who said upon exiting the final session of the Constitutional convention that our representatives had created a republic “if we could keep it.” By this, Franklin meant that it is up to each of us to learn the issues, understand the principles upon which our system was created, as well as the mechanics of the system itself in order to cast an informed vote that will uphold those principles and keep our government orderly. This all means that it is incumbent upon each of us to stay informed and to educate ourselves.
I will not, of course, claim that all people under 21 are inherently incapable of becoming such a well-rounded and informed citizen. In some cases, there are surely 19 year-olds that are smarter, more informed, and trustworthy than certain 30 year-olds out there. This is beyond question. But one cannot make general rules for society by honing in on every individual case. One must strike for the best general rule and the general rule here is that people under 21 do not care a whit about government and will, therefore, make for uninformed — maybe even dangerous — voters.
It should be pointed out that when our nation was first constructed voting rights were in no way distributed universally. It is a fact that women and many minorities were ineligible to vote, not to mention the many white men who did not own property, make a certain yearly wage, or pay a certain level of taxes who were denied the vote. Many of the Founders suggested that universal suffrage was even dangerous to the welfare of the nation. As John Adams wrote:
Depend upon it, Sir, it is dangerous to open so fruitful a source of controversy and altercation as would be opened by attempting to alter the qualifications of voters; there will be no end to it. New claims will arise; women will demand the vote; lads from 12 to 21 will think their rights not enough attended to; and every man who has not a farthing, will demand an equal voice with any other, in all acts of state. It tends to confound and destroy all distinctions, and prostrate all ranks to one common level.
It is easy for people today to dismiss the original proscriptions on suffrage as some relic of the bias of a bygone era. But, we should not so easily ignore out of hand the concept. There were solid, sensible reasons that suffrage was limited and the case can be logically made that some more restrictions than we currently have are warranted yet today.
The main concept for only offering the vote to landholders or people who made enough money to pay a certain level of taxes was that of a vested interest. You see, someone who is vested fully in the system such as those who have property to safeguard from government intrusion, or enough riches that government can threaten their holdings, has the most to gain and/or lose with their interactions with government. Such people have a vested interest in the actions of government that will force them to more carefully consider what that government does and, therefore, will be far more circumspect in their voting patterns. What and for whom such people vote for will weigh far heavier upon them than it might for someone without any vested interest in the system.
This is especially true for taxes. A person who is wealthy enough to materially lose their fortune to taxation is far more likely to require their representatives in Congress to be careful with budgetary matters and far less likely to vote for representatives who might raise taxes. However, someone living on the dole or someone who will lose nothing should taxes be raised has absolutely no imputes to put much thought or emotion into the issue. Most especially, those on the dole will find themselves in a position of being able to vote for someone who will give them free stuff. The later is a most dangerous situation and one we are faced with today as a large block of voters constantly electing officials who will give them largess from government larders in an unsustainable way.
So, there are some very legitimate reasons that universal suffrage isn’t necessarily the perfect idea. Limitations can legitimately be discussed and certain people can logically be excluded from voting. Certainly, I am not advocating the rolling back of voting rights that women and minorities have fought hard for, but I am advocating that the vote be taken away from anyone under 21. Those under 21 can logically and legitimately be excluded from the polls.
For one thing, they don’t vote anyway. Even after the voting age was lowered by the 26th Amendment in 1971 to 18 from 21, we have never seen large numbers of voters come from that age bracket. Additionally numbers have steadily fallen since the initial introduction of the lowered voting age. During the 2004 election, for instance, candidate Howard Dean madly courted the youth vote but, in the end, only 4 percent of Democrat Party caucusgoers were from the under 21 age group. Participation by this group has dropped by a third since 1971. It appears that the 18 to 24 year-old set is less than half as likely as older age brackets to vote. They just don’t care about voting or issues of government.
There is a reason they don’t care, too. They have nothing vested in government. They are usually uninformed about our national philosophy, they do not generally pay large amounts of taxes, they don’t own property… heck, most of them don’t even have careers and families to support until sometime in the mid to late 20′s. Generally, those under 21 have no emotional connection nor even an intellectual connection to government and this generates little interest in voting.
But it’s far worse than disinterest. Many of the ones that do bother to vote do so out of a wild, childish and uninformed emotionalism that borders on the irrational. Not having the years of life experience that can lead them to more ably understand the issues, they are apt to fall for the kinds of intellectually vapid populism offered by people without scruples. The counterculture of the 1960s is the perfect example of such idiotic support of ideas antithetical to America. The riots, disruptions, and havoc wrecked by these foolish children then is the perfect argument against the youth vote. People of such ungoverned passions, such a complete lack of knowledge or even an interest in the system should certainly be excluded from the privilege of voting.
So, please do keep your children home on Election Day. Let’s restrict the vote to folks with the knowledge and an actual vested interest in the outcome.