After voting for 16, “You will not be missed any of them”
In helping lower the voting age to 16, 125 progressive Democrats have painted a political target on themselves.
On March 3 of this year, 125 Democrats voted to give 16-year-olds the vote in federal elections. No Republicans joined them. Much has been written on the Democratic list of 121 Republican Members of the House who two months earlier had refused to approve President Joe Biden’s election. Now both parties, like Gilbert and Sullivans mikado, “Have a small list / And you won’t miss any.”
The January Republican dissidents, which included some normally sane people like Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), often expressed doubts about their votes, but said they were complying with the alleged wishes of their Trump-supporting voters. This vision of their duty hardly matches that expressed in Edmund Burke’s address to the Bristol electorate, but it has an element of truthfulness. Trump’s loyalists remain grateful to him for sparing the nation’s president, Hillary Clinton – although almost any Republican presidential candidate would have done so by a greater margin in 2016. Their fanaticism also stems from the fact that it has clearly tried to keep its four main promises: immigration, trade, the Supreme Court, and regime change wars. They also wanted to put a marker against the possibility of fraud in mail-in votes, if not in the 2020 elections, at least in the next.
The democratic supporters of child voting have no such excuses. Their constituents, even in the most liberal or progressive districts, did not ask for or expect it. Even in Nancy Pelosis San Francisco, a proposal to lower the voting age was rejected in 2016, and the California electorate strongly opposed a well-funded proposal for a 17-year election in 2020.
Fear of retaliation by Pelosi, in command of committee duties and large amounts of campaign money, may have sparked some voices, such as those of the occasionally independent Abigail Spanberger, Ro Khanna, James Clyburn, and C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger. The main reason for them and others, however, was hoping for a partisan advantage, although the examples of Brazil, Argentina and Nicaragua where 16-year-olds are allowed to vote suggest that no advantage can outweigh the loss of political stability it creates. A refreshingly independent vote was that of former NAACP chairman, my Congressman Kweisi Mfume, who, unlike many members of the Congressional Black Caucus, voted against the proposal.
The advent of the 18-year-old election has almost certainly helped politicize higher education. Spokeswoman Pelosi has stated that she “wants to catch kids when they’re in high school, when they’re interested in all of this, when they learn about government in order to vote”.
An organization known as “Vote 16 USA” is a subsidiary of another organization called “Generation Citizen” that is supported by major foundations, including the Ford and Bezos Family Foundations, and has a “citizenship education” program or Promotes indoctrination, which reminds of that of and with the program with the New York Times1619 project. This is not a pretty sight.
There is a lot of scientific evidence to suggest that the brain is not fully developed until the age of 25. In addition, American youth are more sheltered and less experienced than ever. The day is over for the young citizens celebrated by Ralph Waldo Emerson, who preach, teach, farm, do manual labor and try their hand at merchants – who “don’t postpone life, but already live”. For every Napoleon or William Pitt, there are millions of trust babies, drones, and eternal students. Some recall that Chancellors Bruning from Germany and Schuschnigg from Austria saw no cure for their country’s political unrest in the 1930s, apart from raising the voting age to 25.
The March 3 vote should be seen as a political gift to Republicans to ensure they restore a majority in the House and more than negate the effects of the mistake made by their own members two months earlier.
George Liebmann is President of the Baltimore Bar Library Company and most recently the author of works on law and history Vox Clamantis in the desert: an iconoclast investigates four failed administrations.