Besides, each electoral system is skewed a certain way. The principle is straightforward enough, and I see no way to escape it.
Britain’s first past the post system under-represents many groups, and of course much has been said about the American Electoral College (note that I support both first past the post and the Electoral College); proportional party list voting, supposed to be most representative, gives disproportionate influence to small, niche parties (Israel, anyone? Today’s system essentially amounts to a vote subsidy (which then turns into a cash subsidy) to the old. That said, I’m aware that my proposal is far outside the mainstream (mostly because most people don’t think about the issue until you bring it up, and because we adults like to treat children with more than a little condescension), and this post isn’t a “modest proposal” type tongue-in-cheek thing: I genuinely believe in giving kids the vote.
“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”As you can see, Article II distinguishes between Citizens and natural born Citizens.
We seem to prefer instant to delayed gratification – how, well, childish, ain’t it? First of all, crazy as I may seem by now, I do understand that some children are too young to read the ballot or to perform the actual physical act of voting, and that those kids shouldn’t vote directly. A child who is old enough to vote (and who is a better judge of that than himself?Children are citizens, and if democracy is giving each citizen a say in government, then children should have the vote. Clearly, my limpid arguments (ahem) should have produced unanimous agreement (ahem-ahem). For as long as I remember (yes, even before that West Wing episode), I’ve supported abolishing – not lowering – the voting age barrier. I believed so vehemently as a child, of course, but since I’ve had the vote I’ve only grown more adamant in my conviction. Furthermore, if I had to sum up why I think we should give kids the vote, I would say because kids are the future, and we should vote for the future. Winning elections is about pandering to particular groups, and the groups who vote are the groups who decide elections. First, let’s dispatch the most common argument against my little obsession: that kids are not reasonable enough to understand the issues and make an informed vote. You’ll remember that the same argument was used time and again to prevent giving women the vote and, in the United States, to certain minorities. They are also far from innocent, and often quite cruel, a trait that can be necessary for making difficult political choices (note also that I am not idealizing kids). We all vote on irrational grounds (nothing is more irrational than voting on “the issues,” given the disconnect between politicians’ platforms and what they actually do once in office (this isn’t intended as a dig at politicians’ honesty, but rather as a recognition of the difficult necessities of government)), and this is a good thing, because we vote for people who are irrational themselves, to undertake that most irrational of human endeavors: the political art. If we give Joe Sixpack the vote, then we should give little Jimmy Sunny D the vote. Kids are much smarter than we give them credit for, to know children well is to know this. Indeed, if reasonableness and information is the test we use when deciding to give people the vote, the average voter wouldn’t pass it, nor would the average Harvard professor.Can we trust parents to vote in their kids’ interest and not their own?In the West and Japan, the boomers, riding the wave of demography-boosted growth and heady with a belief of their own importance, gave themselves the most generous system of government cajoling in history, sticking their grandchildren with the tab but still ensuring that their pensions will be paid as they ride into the sunset thanks to their enduring chokehold on the voting system.This is as blatantly unsustainable as it is hushed by the political narrative, and this is because our voting population is skewed against the future.This situation exists largely because those who have the biggest stake in the future have no say. I believe that for very small children, their parents should vote in their stead. ) should be able to walk into his friendly neighborhood voting registration office and register for himself.However, as soon as they can vote, kids should be able to. (There is also the matter of which parent gets the vote.