There's no good argument against letting 16-year-olds vote, but there are plenty of good arguments for it.

People who are 16 and 17 are as qualified to vote as anyone in the 80s or 90s:

The Republican Party likely would crumble as a national force tomorrow if seniors in nursing and retirement homes stopped voting. Meanwhile, their their entire agenda serves to undo the biggest victories of the "War on Poverty" -- which primary benefited the elderly. You can argue that teens cognitive abilities on average do not match adults in their "peak" years, but you could make the same case against some older voters. The difference is, only one group has to live with the consequences of their current choices for generations.

Any argument against teens voting makes more sense when applied against older seniors voting.

Don't think a 16 year old has enough "life experience" to vote? Put her up against twenty 78-year-olds and let's see who figures out which stories in their Facebook feed are real first. You could easily argue that Americans who grew up without computers and smartphones are not equipped to participate as citizens in this society.

If you think young people should vote, I suppose you don't have a problem with trying young people as adults in court:

First of all, we already do that. Young defendants are already sentenced to life in prison by a government they had no hand in choosing. Second, as a society we see the wisdom in meting out the privileges and responsibilities of adulthood in pieces. 18 year olds in Florida can buy AR-15s but not beer. 23 year olds can drive tanks but not rental cars. Believing that young people deserve a say in our democracy is not to say that 16 year olds are full-fledged adults. They're not! That some of these distinctions are arbitrary and hard to draw doesn't absolve us of the moral harm of denying capable teenagers a voice.

I see from my previouslies that 14 years ago there was a proposed California amendment to give 14 year olds "half a vote". I never heard anything about it again because it died in committee and never came to a vote or debate.

Those kids would be 28 by now.

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13 Responses:

  1. Thomas Lord says:

    The GOP political machinery that secured the lion's share of electoral power in the U.S., and that got Donald Trump in the Whitehouse, is surely so unsophisticated that it could never adapt to win the votes of teens. Teens are categorically immune to authoritarianism and True Believer libertarianism. Ayn Randian shit could never be fashionable among our New Deal loving teens. Sure. Yeah. Why not.

    • MattyJ says:

      Actually, the GOP was very much against Trump for almost the entire election. They 'made' him pledge to run as a Republican because they didn't want him stealing away votes as an Independent. They assumed he would get killed at the debates and drop out, but we all know what happened instead.

      • Thomas Lord says:

        Criticisms of US politicians or parties often draw replies like that: Oh, that isn't really what the GOP stands for. Oh, Obama would have been far more to the left if he could have been.

        We're supposed to carry around these idealizations of a supposed politics from which actual political reality is always (always!) deviant due to some "temporary" aberration.

        These imaginary ideals, what's Really In Their Hearts™, is simultaneously a concept unmolested by any contest with empirical reality -- and is what is pawned off as hard-nosed realism!

        I don't care what story capitalist elites are telling about how they Really Feel about Donald Trump or anything else. They are what they do. The GOP is Donald Trump. Donald Trump is the GOP.

        • MattyJ says:

          Oh Lord.

          You're still wrong. I'm as left wing as they come so I didn't mean to come off as a GOP sympathizer, but to characterize this whole thing as 'the GOP got Trump elected' is disingenuous at best.

          Technically they did by making him pledge to run as a Republican, but that was far from their intent. Trump made Trump, then he dragged the GOP along with him because of the GOP's (and Democrats') tremendous underestimation of what he'd do to them.

          • Thomas Lord says:

            > Trump made Trump,

            A bunch of billionaires engaging in 21st century, highly sophisticated campaigning got Trump elected.

  2. CTD says:

    The advantage of age is that you see idealistic campaign promises fail in real time. If it weren't for age-based entitlements like SS and Medicare, I'd support age-based sighting of votes.

  3. Tim says:

    As an idiotic middle-aged liberal, I vaguely support votes at 16 (franchise is at 18 in my colony), even though it would likely elect other idiots of whom I do not approve. But if your argument is that 16-year olds should get the vote because one party that you dislike would be forever unelected then you understand neither the point, nor even the concept of democracy. Do you really want to live in a quasi one party state (examples: Japan until recently, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa, Russia)?

    Re: fractional votes: ignoring their regrettable history, why not have a weight applied to your vote which is a Gaussian function of age? Lived past two standard deviations? That's 0.0001% of a vote for you!

  4. vacri says:

    "Old people shouldn't be given the vote because they have trouble with Facebook" has to be the dumbest thing I've ever heard on the topic of suffrage.

    Not to mention it's doubly stupid, because teens avoid Facebook anyway, because all "the olds" are on it.

  5. Web Guy says:

    21st century scientism has a neurological justification for the status quo:

  6. tfb says:

    If 16 year olds are old enough to help decide the future of their country, why aren't they old enough to take their clothes off for money? It seems to me that if you can make one decision you should be able to make the other, although I am sure there are arguments both ways.

    (And note: I have not expressed an opinion on whether they are old enough to do either thing.)

    • jwz says:

      Does nobody even read the parts of the articles that I quote?

      Here's an idea: how about you give them the vote, then they can vote for the pro-stripper candidate.

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