In recent days, the Left has renewed its push to lower the voting age to 16. They claim that the "civic engagement" of the kids from Parkland, Florida proves that high school students should have the right to vote.
Interestingly, there are thousands of civically-engaged teenagers who show up to the March For Life every year, yet the Left never describes their activism in such glowing terms. Indeed, the Left is wagering (correctly, I think) that there are far more anti-gun teens than pro-life teens. If they had any inkling that the ratio was reversed, the last thing they'd want to do is give these people the franchise. Once again, they are putting the Parkland kids on a a platform simply and solely because the Parkland kids are politically useful to them. It is a sick spectacle.
Personally, I have all the sympathy in the world for these teens. And, though I disagree with their gun control push, I do admire their eagerness to get involved. Unlike the Left, I also admire the kids at the March For Life. But I don’t think any of them should vote. In fact, if we are going to do anything with the voting age, we ought to raise it.
There is a general misconception common among Americans on both sides of the political aisle. We believe that voting is the divine destiny of all citizens and the fewest possible restrictions should be placed on the practice. We labor under the delusion that our democracy is healthier when more people “participate.” We put together voting drives and entice as many human beings as we can to the polls, urging — no, demanding — that they all vote, no matter how uninformed they might be, or how little they otherwise contribute to society. We have in our heads a vision of America as a harmonious utopia governed by an oblivious mob of millions.
This is not actually the sort of system our Founders had in mind. They had in mind a country governed by mature and reasonable Americans who had a real stake in things. Granted, they excluded black people and women from this vision. That was an injustice that had to be, and has been, rectified. Now men and women, black and white, can vote. But there is no reason why all men and women, all black and white people, regardless of age, knowledge, maturity, wisdom, should vote. We’ve rightly done away with race and gender barriers. We should not have done away with every other barrier.
Let’s remember that the politicians are the ones who want everyone to vote, no matter how benighted they might be. Do we think the politicians are really such huge fans of “civic engagement”? Do we imagine that they have pure motives in trying to open up voting to the ignorant masses? Of course not. But they realize that it benefits them — not us, not America, just them — if the voting booths are crowded with people who have no business in a voting booth.
The Powers That Be know that you, the Rare Informed Voter, are a disastrous threat to their dominion over us. So they set out not to prevent your vote but to drown it. They tow in truckloads of people who couldn't point to America on a map, let alone spell it, and they applaud as these sheep proudly push random buttons and render your thoughtful, knowledge-based vote moot.
Voting is not a Mystical Rite that we all must partake in. The health of our nation does not rest on our ability to shovel warm bodies into the voting booth. The reality is the exact opposite. Voting is a tool, not a sacrament. We use it to select the ones who will pass laws and make important decisions. We should protect the process and treat it with respect. That means doing two things:
1) Raise the voting age.
I would raise it to at least 25. The idea is to open up voting to people who are full, contributing members of society. The majority of people under the age of 25 have never had a job. They’ve never supported themselves. They’ve never even paid a bill or filed their taxes. They know very little about how the country actually works. And they contribute little if anything to it financially, which means they are going into the voting booth and deciding what happens to other people’s money. They have no skin in the game themselves.
Ideally, the only citizens who vote would be married people, or single people who support themselves. But that would be hard to enforce so the next best option is to just notch up the age of entry.
2) Civics exam.
Every voter should be required to pass a very elementary civics exam. We’re not asking them to write essays or cite Supreme Court cases or anything like that. But they should be able to name the President, the Vice President, and the Speaker of the House. They should be able to tell us how many states are in the Union and identify at least, say, 20 of them. They should be able to name the branches of government. And so on. A third grade level test.
Anyone who is so ignorant about their country that they cannot answer even these questions should be kept as far from the polling place as possible. They can do us no good as voters. They can only cause harm. I mean this as no disrespect to them. To call someone ignorant is not a value judgment or an insult. It is just a statement of fact. And it is a statement of fact to say that ignorant voters are destroying this country. Quite by accident, I realize. I don’t hold it against them. I just want them to stop. And these two simple steps would help.
Of course I should stipulate one exception to both of the above rules: anyone who serves in the military has certainly earned the right to vote. The rest of us have not earned it. And now we should.