Nebraska state Sen. Tyson Larson’s effort to reduce the age to serve as governor, in the state legislature, or in other state offices to 18 died this week due to a filibuster by state Sen. Ernie Chambers.
Even after Larson offered to remove offices other than the legislature from his bill, Chambers would not give in, saying lowering the minimum age from 21 to 18 “demeans and derogates this body.”
Was the West Virginia House of Delegates demeaned when Saira Blair won a seat at age 18 in 2014? Or the Connecticut House of Representatives, where 20-year-old Aundré Bumgardner currently serves? Joe Sweeney was elected to the New Hampshire legislature two days before his 19th birthday, and is now in his second term. The state seems to be doing just fine.
People below the age of 21 do great things all the time. The list of young people who have found early success in the arts is long. Young people have found success elsewhere, too. Henry David Thoreau delivered a Harvard commencement address at 19; Isaac Newton began developing calculus at 20.
More recently, archaeologist David Stuart received a MacArthur Foundation Genius grant at age 18. Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook at age 19; Bill Gates, Microsoft at 20; and Steve Jobs, Apple at 21.
And would Sen. Chambers say Malala Yousafzai “demeans” the Nobel Peace Prize?