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If you compare President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler, are you politically astute? If you argue that Brexit voters are racists, are you politically engaged? If you call for stricter gun control, are you politically active? The media and the left certainly think so, which is why you’re beginning to hear suggestions that we lower the voting age from 18 to 16, and not just in the U.S., but elsewhere around the world.
The first phase of this has already begun: pushing more high schoolers to vote.
In the wake of the tragic shooting at a Florida high school earlier this month, many students have swarmed Washington, demanding President Trump and the Republicans impose greater restrictions on gun ownership. As former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel might say, the Counterfeit News Network and the Democrats are not letting a serious crisis go to waste.
Tom Steyer, a billionaire Democratic donor, is pledging to contribute $1 million to campaigns that help high schoolers register to vote. He will be partnering with two gun control advocacy organizations, Everytown for Gun Control and Giffords, in sponsoring the voter registration initiative.
Accusing Republicans of “putting NRA money ahead of the lives of Americans,” Steyer said in a video message on Twitter:
“Over the last week, we’ve all had a chance to hear the powerful, thoughtful, important appeals from the Floridian high school students about the need for meaningful gun control.
If you consider what the job of the President is, number one: protect the American people. If he won’t enact the kind of reform necessary to protect our children, that’s just another reason he’s gotta go.”
Let’s assume that Steyer’s efforts will be successful. Should 18-year-olds even cast a ballot? Let’s take it one step further: should 16-year-olds, who can’t even smoke, consume alcohol, or drive in some states, partake in the political arena? Just because they can, it doesn’t mean they should.
It’s Vote or Die All Over Again
In the 2008 election, there was a huge push to boost the youth vote. Late-night talk show hosts, actors, professional wrestlers, and media outlets encouraged young people to participate in the democratic process. P Diddy went as far as launching a campaign of “Vote or Die!”
Of course, many of these individuals and groups were left-leaning and endorsed then-candidate Barack Obama. In 2004, 2006, and 2008, a majority of under-30 voters went Democrat; Obama won 66% of the youth vote. And, why not? Hollywood showered him with love and praise; he was a lot cooler than the old white man of the Republican Party: Senator John McCain (R-AZ).
It was the same trend in 2012; former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) only garnered about one-quarter of the 18-24 vote.
At the same time, a large portion of millennial – and now Generation Z – voters are uninformed. It is true that this is the most educated, tech-savvy generation in human history – yes, a degree in Gender Studies or Lesbian Dance Theory counts. But education is not the same as knowledge, independent thinking, and understanding of current events.
Here are just a few examples:
- 51% of young people thought the U.S. government spent more on foreign aid than Social Security.
- 12% of 12th graders are proficient in U.S. history.
- College-educated young Americans scored an average 55% on a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) 2016 global literacy survey.
- 44% of millennials would prefer to live in a socialist or communist country.
- 21% of Generation Z Americans would cast a ballot for a communist.
A considerable number of young people are of the progressive, social-justice persuasion, which is equal to more votes for the Democratic Party. Yes, today’s youth can regurgitate cliched talking points – like white males are evil, and the wealthy need to pay their fair share – and retweet anti-Trump memes. However, it doesn’t equate to being politically observant.
Staying Home is a Civic Duty
Are we being too rough on kids these days? There are some precocious adolescents, but they are the exceptions to the rule.
Let’s be honest, though: Many Americans, Canadians, and Britons of all ages are unaware of the issues, ignorant of history, and oblivious to the world around them. A September 2017 survey from University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center found that more than one-third of participants couldn’t name a single right protected by the First Amendment.
The punditry class has already championed the notion that this is why President Trump was elected: a stupid population. This may indeed be a seductive line of thinking for the hyper-partisan individual. But this has been the case for years, whether it was under former President Ronald Reagan for former President Obama.
Like the famous line in The Mikado goes: “Your notions, though many, are not worth a penny.”
There could be a myriad of reasons for our paucity of wisdom regarding domestic and foreign affairs: poor government schools, inadequate parenting, mediocre reportage, or apathy stemming from iniquitous politicians.
We all have opinions on abortion and guns, taxes and war. But if a mere quarter of Americans can name all three branches of the federal government, then perhaps staying home would be our real civic duty, not blindly voting for a candidate with a D, R, I, or L next to their name because Hollywood told us to.
Should young people vote? Do you think the voting age needs to be lowered to 16? Let us know in the comments section!
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