|September 30th, 2008 by Robert | Word Count: 753 | Reading Time 2:59||1,193 views|
How old do you think people should be to possess the right to vote? Do you think our current age requirement of 18 is valid and rational? Do you think it should be reserved for older, more experienced individuals? How about even younger? Voting carries with it a lot of responsibility. Should someone 16 be given free rein to vote? Remember, 16 year olds cannot even legally get married without a parent’s consent… If our youth cannot become legally married until 18, then are they ready at 16 to vote for someone who would run the entire country?
Quite a few questions and the reason why I have brought them up, is that a few foreign countries allow 16 year olds the right to vote in their general elections. Recently, Austria joined the growing list allowing their youth more voting “rights.” Generally, American politics are infiltrated by Euro-political reformation and I’m sure at some point, we’ll be asked this question for real. Can it be far down the road considering that more than 100 of our colleges, institutes of higher learning, have recently signed a document proposing that 18 should be the new legal drinking age?
Where does it stop? It basically comes down to the idea of adulthood. When do people actually become old enough (experienced) to make critical decisions which can affect more than the next few minutes of life? Personally, lowering the ages of so-called adulthood is the wrong direction in our timeframe of existence. Sure, in the past, our youth grew up much faster, they were forced to. By growing up, I mean physically, mentally, and emotionally. They were tasked with being adults at much younger ages than our current generations.
Experience is the key. Past generations were given responsibilities at a younger age which helped develop their minds, helped ease their emotional ups and downs, and provided necessary trial and error experience before being asked to become an adult. Today, our youth are shielded from the real world and their experience levels, along with necessary emotional control, are less developed than those before us. I’m not saying our youth is less smart than those before them, I am saying they are less prepared for the real world.
If we choose to turn back the clock and provide adult rights to young minds which are not ready for it, we could be setting ourselves up for potential disaster. As groups and people ask for adulthood rights to be transferred at younger ages, we must know the individuals are ready for such responsibility. As far as elections go, 16 year olds would have no experience paying taxes, no experience working in the real world, no experience supporting a family, no mortgage, no car payments, no insurance, etc. They have no experience with what it takes to live on their own, provide food for their family, or even how to rent a car.
There are millions of youth between the ages of 16 and 18. Don’t forget, the youth, because they have no experience, can be easily manipulated. With our elections becoming tighter and tighter, adding in a voter block that could be very erratic with no sense of country, could tip the balance of our election process.
Of course this is only a hypothetical argument since Austria was the one who recently decided this, but in all reality, I will bet we hear about this in our country as a proposal from someone in the next few years. It only makes sense since we are becoming more liberal by the minute. If liberal thinking people believe 18 year olds can legitimately make the right decisions about drinking, then why not move the current 18 year old rights to 16? Seems logical doesn’t it? Or maybe it’s illogical… I’m sorry, but I don’t want any 16 year olds voting our next President in or casting votes determining local taxes.
I’m basing this on the teenagers I know and also on the experience I had when I was young. I thought I knew everything back then, as we all did. Except now, 20 years later, I have come to realize I didn’t know anything. I was lucky to have survived. It’s amazing to think how smart we think we are, yet be so utterly and completely incompetent. Age 16 is the pinnacle of that thinking. If we add adult rights to the mix, we are throwing gas upon the fire of young adulthood… and the fire will burn us all.