by Harry Grigorian '19
Fortnite and free food, Starbucks and Snapchat: that’s what 16-year-olds know. Some 16-year-olds have thought-out, rational opinions on real-world problems, but unfortunately, the vast majority receive their news from Facebook, friends, or parents with a strong filter. Very few 16-year-olds will have worked a real job (not just shoveling snow); very few 16-year-olds will have paid taxes; very few 16-year-olds will have been educated enough to understand the nuances and intricacies of our political system. 16-year-olds have not felt the boost of a good economy or the weight of a bad one.
16-year-olds are not accountable for paying debts nor do they understand credit. They have not struggled to pay bills nor have they served on a jury. 16-year-olds have not served in our military. 16-year-olds have not nearly approached a fully developed brain. 16-year-olds can be easily persuaded by slimy politicians and demagogues.
Recall your 16-year-old self (or if you’re 16, come back to this article in 2 years). For the Republicans, could your 16-year-old mind tell me the following: why don’t you like Hillary Clinton? Why do you like saying “lock her up”? Can you explain to me what she actually did? Why did the Republican-appointed James Comey not indict her if she was guilty? How much can you tell me about her policies, her platforms when she was running? Or did you just not like her personality? What can you tell me about her time before she ran for President? For the Democrats: why don’t you like Donald Trump? If you think he’s racist, can you point to multiple specific policies he’s implemented that would support that? Can you describe the current state of the economy? Have you followed the stock market and consumer confidence since his election?
Some of you might have been able to rattle off perfect, reasoned-through answers, but the vast, vast majority of American 16-year-olds would have absolutely nothing. By lowering the voting age, we are knowingly making the electorate less educated.
Also, there’s no inherent problem with the 18-year-old age minimum. 18 is when one legally becomes an adult, so the age just makes sense. Politically active 16-year-olds can still make a difference (we’ve seen huge spikes in youth activism recently), but there’s no reason to arm the uninformed with the most powerful weapon in our republic: the vote.