Yesterday Glenn Reynolds wrote that in light of the events happening at Yale and Mizzou that we should raise the voting age to 25. This is as dumb a suggestion as when Ann Coulter suggested raising the voting age to 30. To demonstrate how dumb an argument the otherwise reasonable Glenn Reynolds has made, let me explain why voting should be capped at 25. Let’s stop adults from voting.
As he tells it, here is Glenn’s criteria for voting:
To be a voter, one must be able to participate in adult political discussions. It’s necessary to be able to listen to opposing arguments and even — as I’m doing right here in this column — to change your mind in response to new evidence.
He accuses students at Yale and Mizzou (and no doubt campuses elsewhere) of failing to meet that standard. Perhaps. Or perhaps they just learn a bit too well from their parents and grandparents. Have adults participated in “adult political discussions”? I haven’t seen it.
As described by Tom Davis in a recent speech to the Virginia Association of Counties, our political culture (starting at the top) has become more of a parliamentary system than our traditional divided powers approach. The party in power attempts to ram through whatever legislation they can and the party out of power acts like a European opposition party and fights any proposal from the majority party, no matter how sensible. Is this how “adult political discussions” are supposed to work?
In this hostile political atmosphere the other party must be opposed at all costs, even when they push for your own issues. In 2009 President Obama introduced a health care bill largely modeled after the healthcare law championed by Republican governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, and discussed by Republicans for many years. The act became law without a single Republican vote.
In 2013 the Republican led House passed a budget that included a provision that delayed implementation of some portions of the Affordable Care Act. So poisonous was this idea of a delay that Democrats in the Senate rejected the budget and sent the government into shutdown unless they were presented a “clean” budget. After the nation made it through a 16 day Federal government shut down President Obama decided to delay certain parts of the law on his own.
The filibuster, for both parties, has transformed from an exceptional-use tool to standard operating procedure. A super majority is required to pass any big legislation, thus no big legislation has passed in years. While previous generations discussed, debated and tweaked legislation to have broader appeal and get buy in from both sides of the aisle we just try to defeat our opponents through any means necessary.
We don’t have policy debates, we watch polls and track the horse race to see who is up and who is down. We ask gotcha questions in the media and in presidential debates, we spend hours (and months!) investigating a Secretary of State purely for political gain, and we disqualify candidates based on their inability to accurately remember personal anecdotes from their youth. We care more about scoring a zinger against an opponent than having a serious discussion about policy.
As Glenn put it so well in his article:
This isn’t the behavior of people who are capable of weighing opposing ideas, or of changing their minds when they are confronted with evidence that suggests that they are wrong. It’s the behavior of spoiled children..
Except these aren’t the actions of children. The youngest member of the US Senate is 38. The youngest member of the US House is 31. The median age of a US Senator is 62. In the US House it is 57. The youngest governor is 43.
Glenn is right, “it’s intolerable to be governed by spoiled children” that’s why we should set maximum voting age of 25. Young people surely couldn’t do any worse than the “spoiled children” their grandparents keep electing. At the very least, let’s lower the voting age to 16 as they are trying to do in Washington, DC.