Elijah Manley speaks at Green Presidential Nominating Convention 2016
History was made yesterday when 17-year-old Elijah D. Manley gave a speech at the Green Party Presidential Nominating Convention on Saturday, August 6, 2016, in Houston, Texas. Elijah is the first “underaged” presidential nominee to make it to a state ballot – two states, in his case – of one of the two largest third parties in the USA. This took a huge amount of work on his part, along with considerable support from the many true progressives within the Green Party. This also happened despite strong ageist opposition and obstruction from the centrists who are part of the Greens (which, sadly, includes the Co-Chair of the national party). In a big leap forward for youth rights, Elijah got on the Green ballot in two states, Maryland and his home state of Florida, where he took 41% of the vote, with only Green powerhouse Dr. Jill Stein coming in ahead! Though all the delegates from Maryland gave their votes to Stein, three of the seven delegates from Florida gave their votes to Elijah, with Stein receiving the other four. Unexpectedly, the District of Columbia gave Elijah a quarter of its delegate votes, with another quarter going to William Kreml and the remaining one and a half going to Stein. This was an extraordinary primary turn-out from the first “underage” presidential candidate to run a serious campaign.

Moreover, from listening to recordings of that speech, you will see that Elijah made a strong endorsement of incorporating youth liberation into the national platform of the Greens, to which he received a loud round of applause. He received further applause upon mentioning the hard work he has done for the recent initiative to lower the voting age to 16 in many U.S. municipalities, including his home Florida county of Broward. Elijah has been working to establish a chapter of NYRA in Broward County, whose Facebook group you can find here.

Elijah’s platform on youth rights, both for his candidacy as a Green and for the youth liberation organization Continental Youth Assembly (which he co-founded), have included not only the end to age restrictions on voting, but also opposition to corporal punishment, a ban on infant circumcision, the democratization of the schooling system – including student membership on the local school board, the end to standardized testing and the demeaning grading system, and the availability of alternative opportunities for receiving one’s education – the end of enforced age segregation in public places, the end of curfew laws, opposition to the drinking laws, support for the right to bodily autonomy, allowing youths to enter the labor force and receive full remuneration for doing so, the end to gulag camps, freedom of speech and access to information, freedom of religious worship (including the right to dissent from religious worship altogether), and a legal declaration that children and younger adolescents are not the property of their parents.

As Elijah’s campaign manager, I understand that many youth liberationists do not support the Green economic policies, but that is not the issue here. I’m hoping this will simply spur our fellow youth liberationists to encourage their own political party of choice – e.g., the Libertarians (which has often been youth-friendly in the past), Democrats, Republicans, etc. – to likewise adopt youth lib into their national platform. We do not want youth liberation to ever become a partisan issue. Where all of us may differ with agreement on various economic issues (or even certain domestic and foreign policy issues), we can nevertheless unite on the basis of getting all political parties to support and incorporate youth liberation into its mission statement.

This accomplishment from Elijah should be applauded by all youth liberationists, regardless of which political affiliation you stand behind, as it has taken all of us one further step towards bringing youth liberation into mainstream politics in general. Even as we strive to get the Green Party to incorporate youth lib into its national platform, so can non-Green youth liberationists take this as encouragement to work equally hard to get your own political party to do the same!

Watch Elijah give his historic speech about the importance of youth rights (video starts at 1:25:13):


  1. I don’t think it can be considered ageism if the law says you must be a certain age.Had Manley, who is a great guy, won the primary, the Green party would not be eligible to run a presidential candidate. I applaud Manely for his activism but he needs to run for an office he is legally able to run for.

  2. @Bryan Lee Williams — As a youth liberationist and Elijah’s campaign manager, I must disagree that it wasn’t ageist to insist upon acquiescing to an ageist law rather than challenging it, especially considering the Greens are supposed to be a progressive party opposing and challenging discriminatory laws. And this constitutional provision is a blatant, textbook example of an ageist law if there ever was one.

    We do not believe it’s something that should just be tolerated because it’s written into law. Laws can be changed, and provisions in the Constitution have been upgraded to broaden its definitions of freedom to more and more groups of people throughout history (for instance, when the Constitution was first written, only white men who owned a significant amount of property was allowed to vote). Elijah’s campaign was designed to directly challenge that specific provision, among many other things. Had he won, then we would have been left with an interesting situation which would have brought unprecedented national attention to that ageist constitutional law. We would then have been in a position to bring it all the way to the Supreme Court, and strongly petition for a new constitutional amendment to eliminate that provision.

    In other words, it was an act of civilized disobedience. The mere fact that Elijah ran his campaign, and did so well in it, provided a strong challenge to that constitutional law. There are other ways to fight that law, but such acts of civil disobedience have occurred throughout American history, and have been the catalyst for many forms of progressive change. What Elijah did was similar to what certain women activists in the past did when they attempted to vote despite the laws denying women that right. The fact that these denials of suffrage were written into law didn’t somehow make them non-sexist.

    The way we see it, refusing to challenge racist, sexist, or ageist laws and acquiescing to such laws simply because they are written into the penal code is tantamount to *supporting* that law. The centrists within the Green Party who opposed Elijah’s candidacy made it very clear they *agreed* with the law, rather than opposing it on the basis of a technicality (“hey, I don’t agree with the law, but it’s still the law, so we shouldn’t challenge it…”).

  3. I applaud the fact that SOMEONE who cares youth rights and of a right way forward for America has stood up and fought.

    From the Philippines, I stand with thee. Congratulations on your success.

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