Monday, August 19, 2019

A matter of consistency

When people suggest lowering the voting age, others argue that the young are too uneducated or silly to exercise the duties of citizenship. Australian John Quiggin has just blown that argument out of the water:

Looking at the array of ignorant and vindictive old men attacking Greta Thunberg and other young climate activists, the case for lowering the voting age is just about unanswerable. Anything that could be urged in justification of stopping 16 year olds, as a group, from voting, is equally applicable to those over 60 (a group to which I belong). Over 60 voters are, on average, poorly educated (the school leaving age in Australia was 15 when they went through and I assume similar in most places), and more likely to hold a wide range of false beliefs (notably in relation to climate change).

Worse, as voters the over 60s have ceased to act, if they ever did, as wise elders seeking the best for the future. Rather (on average) they vote in a frivolous and irresponsible way, forming the support base for loudmouthed bigots and clowns... Substantively, they respond to unrealistic appeals to nostalgia, wanting to Make America Great Again, and restore the glories of the British Empire, while dismissing concerns about the future. If my age cohort were to be assessed on the criteria applied to 16 year olds, we would be disenfranchised
en masse.

Democracies don't do that, of course. Regardless of their poor education, stupidity, and irresponsibility, old people still have interests and those interests need to be represented. So rather than taking the vote off old people, we should instead extend it to 16 year olds. Its a simple matter of consistency.