Should We Raise The Voting Age?

I know at first blush the above headline reeks of “click bait.” However, that’s far from my intention. The reason why I used it, is exactly for the stopping power, as well as attention grabber I needed during a recent conversation. (If it could be called that)

During a discussion amongst people of varying ages the discourse became heated and focused more on “who was to blame” for the current economic malaise throughout the country. As well as “who the fingers should be pointed at” as to fix it. Neither side seemed willing to budge or relent any ground. Yet, the side that seemed the most adamant was the “younger” of the two sides (although younger was not by much).

They were also the most vocal in professing why “they were correct” as well as the one’s that were listening the least – and talking the most. Countering, or getting a word in edgewise without seeming to (or in reality) yell was near impossible. So I interjected with what I felt was a question that needed to be addressed if the “finger-pointing” argument if either side was to have any validity.

Although I’m not going to touch with a 10′ pole the arguments of left vs right. Or, who vs who. Or who should pay more or less. What I am not afraid to state, as well as remind anyone of is this: When it comes to taxes – everybody pays them in one form or another – nothing is free. And just like death – taxes (regardless of age) will at sometime need to be settled with the “ferryman.” Pure and simple. And by taxes I mean all – everything. i.e., taxing in all its forms be it business, personal, wealth, education, speech, freedom, safety etc., etc.

You might want to debate they’re too high, or too low as to influence what one decides in the privacy of the voting booth. There’s nothing wrong with that and ideas should be expressed. However – knowing the implications; where they come from; the potential burdens on the young, old, neighbors, themselves, their families, the country and more is what has to be contemplated. Otherwise the arguments are nothing more than an assemblage of moot points only for the sake of verbal jousting.

It’s not my place to say one is right or wrong. Again, that’s not my gist here. Nevertheless, when the argument falls between two sides and one of those sides has no experience in the effects of their decisions; and can only speak as to why in reasoning’s of platitudes, sound bites, or less? (i.e., Just because they think so.) Someone has to be the adult in the room and stop the merry-go-round of nonsensical reasoning or accusations. Which is where I found myself, as the appointed “ring master.”

So when I interjected with the supposition “Maybe it’s time we need to raise the voting age?” Both sides stopped and took notice. Suddenly there was an argument on the table (which is what I’m known to do as to get to the real issue) neither contemplated. I believed it was a central (as well as clarifying) question that should be addressed by both sides if they were to continue further. For it opened the discussion more towards a tangible cause and effect both sides could, and did, have equal standing. Along with opening (hopefully) more reasoned arguments to answer for.

This question focused and demanded qualitative answers. There could be no “just because” type answers from either side without making it blatantly obvious that’s all one had. (i.e., No real defensible argument. For “just because” type answers are just that.)

I also elaborated the following in a true questioning manner. While at other times some bordered (and some were purely) the rhetorical. Whether or not any side agreed with the premise I stressed was not the case. However: knowing and understanding the intents and consequences contained within couldn’t go unanswered if: they wanted to continue on and try to reach an amicable conclusion. Whether it would be in half agreement, full agreement, or the willingness to agree they completely disagreed till more evidence or facts could be contemplated. But whatever the case: the talking (or half yelling) at each other had to cease. For as I’ve said many times “The best way to stop a headache is not with a stronger aspirin. It’s to first stop pounding your head against the wall.” And I could see the only thing everyone was contributing to was the severity of this “migraine.”

(I started with asking the following as a premise for further insight and discussion. I wasn’t taking one side or another. The premise was purely for pushing the discussion forward where thinking and true reasoning needed to stem from. Nothing more.)

I began with: Currently you can vote at 18. However, some of you are currently still in school (college), while some of you have recently just graduated. Others have since graduated and have yet to enter the work force. And, there are some that have since entered the work force yet, they are working in fields other than their chosen degree. And many combined still live at home. As a matter of fact, statics imply the number of college graduates that go back and live at home (i.e., parents or other family members) and remain there for years for whatever the reasons is quite high.

On average, it takes about 3 or 4 years after the day you leave high-school to obtain and get yourself adjusted to enter the labor force with an associate degree. Yes, it’s a two-year “in school” thing. However, when you total up all the incidental time you’ll spend i.e., the summers in between, then graduate and settle back home time, get your bearings and start applying to businesses. It runs around 3 to 4 years. For a graduate degree, it’s about 5 to 6 when all is said and done.

The average age after high school is about 18. So in essence, after an associates program you’re about 21. After a graduate somewhere around 23-24. And if a post-graduate about 25 or so give or take. The vast majority might not ever had, or may never hold a job of any type during this period.

Not only that, they will live in a sheltered environment where all the rules are known, visible, and the only competition they’ll face is to answer taught, and known variables that will be asked during testing assignments. Where a mediocre score, if not an outright 1 point above a fail allows one to be included, as well as on the same stage or platform, as one who receives above average scoring. (e.g., This can be shown in the old joke that really isn’t: “What do they call a med-student who graduates at the bottom, and is last in their class? Doctor!)

Add too this many of this same group have fought to be classified today as “children” until the age of 26 as to remain on their parents health insurance for the explicit reasoning that they “can’t and shouldn’t be made to afford it otherwise.” Also while remembering one isn’t considered legally as an “adult” to even drink alcohol till they’re 21.

Yet, at the same time many (and many is just that: a vast preponderance) have taken on suffocating amounts of student debt in the pursuit of degrees or studies that when looked through the prism of prudent financial analysis shows; repayment (if even possible) may cripple one’s ability to move forward in pursuit of the things so many take for granted. i.e., Qualifying for a house, raising kids of their own, and more in the not so distant future.

Does it seem this side should have equitable standing at the ballot box when their decisions will have the weight of enforcement by both law, and force under penalties of imprisonment or monetary damage when they may have never experienced a day in the real world outside of school?

Think hard about how you address these points. For they are not only valid arguments – they are also very real. And although one may not feel the ramifications of these decisions today. Rest assured, they will – once they too enter what is known as real life.

From the point of one side vs the other answer this question to yourself: Who is in the midst of what I just outlined? And should they be granted the right without any true understanding of the consequences of their actions? i.e., To vote for candidates, and laws to be passed where the ramifications will be borne by others? Or, those consequences may in fact backfire resulting to be far more devastating to they themselves in the future for they willy-nilly, or haphazardly voted them in – never contemplating the true ramifications.

Again: Should a person or group that has never experienced what is known by all as “real life” while simultaneously being seen by many legal standards as not having the full credentials to be recognized as an “adult” have the ability to vote directly for, or vote for candidates responsible in the setting of the nations wage laws, tax laws, business law, national debt, business tax structures, business mandates, international trade policies, monetary policy, or most importantly – whether to send their brethren off to war where people die for real – not in some video game or movie? All the while they’ve never been responsible for anything more than “school” and in many cases not subject to feel the direct consequences of their votes until some 8 years or even longer after the age of 18?

Not withstanding showing an inadequate fiduciary responsibility to themselves, never mind others, to pursue degrees that may in fact have no value in society for gainful employment? All the while taking on ever more burdensome debt that may never be paid back in their lifetimes without needing their own form of bailouts or debt forgiveness in the future? All this as they rail about “Wall St.” bailouts. Again, both sides should take a real hard look at not only these questions, but also the mirror.

At the end both sides were a little taken back and knocked of their own self-appointed pedestals (which is what I hoped for). For as I stated earlier, The “younger” side wasn’t all that younger than the other. Many fit into the above from both sides. And you could see the wheels turning in their heads as they contemplated what I had just proposed.

So now, with all that said, do I think we should raise the voting age? No. Of course not. Again: That’s not what I’m trying to argue.

What I am trying to bring to light is: Far too many today are acting like children when in fact they are older (I’ll contend much older) than the many that not all that long ago set out and made a life for both themselves, as well as others. If I may be so bold I’ll use an example in which I played my own part.

At 18 not only had the majority left school, many left at 16 or 17 never finishing (which is where I fell) and were out working odd or whatever jobs they could find. And trust me they were scarce in the 70’s. Sometimes we worked as many as we could handle at once with little to no sleep in between because if you wanted to eat – that’s what it took. (Many times I slept in my car, in the parking-lot as to not miss or be late. For a miss could mean being fired.)

There was no “going back home” to live with your parents. Many at 18 were confronted by very loving parents and asked point-blank “So you’re 18 now. Have you thought about where your going to live?” Why? Because you were considered an adult in just about every aspect of life. And you had better of understood that or else life was going to get a whole lot tougher – sooner.

For many by the age of 19 to 21 they were married, and most had their first child. They had apartments they were responsible for paying rent, utilities, food, as well as upkeep in household chores. Whether they could barely afford it or not. Want to eat? You had better learn to cook and make a meal of whatever you had on hand. A lot of times what was “on hand” was more like a finger. But we all did just that. There was no complaining because – there was no alternative. And for every generation going back it was the same if not more harsh. Want an example? Compare today’s employment prospects for a 20 something today as compared to someone the same age in let’s say 1938?

By 25 most were in jobs that would turn out to be careers in one form or another. By 30 you were contemplating school districts for your kids, neighborhoods to raise them through high school and more. Today, there are more just shy of 30 (if not over) still living in their parents home with nothing more intense as to compare against a real word “family life” than a relationship that maybe lasted a year or so since college. The same may be for a job if that. All while under the guise of “Unless they can get a corner office with a title along with a smokin’ hot spouse – there’s no rush because – they aren’t settling.” As they remain in their parents home unemployed – and single.

Before: the case for voting at 18 could easily be argued. For at 18 you were directly at the receiving end of consequences for your votes. Today? At 18? Answer that honestly. Especially if you are one that fits into the above scenario that I outlined in the beginning.

Never mind what many deem as “the older generation.” If you are right now 25-ish. Do you want any 18-year-old today that you know voting into law something that can directly impact you for what ever the reason? Especially if they seem directly indifferent to anything you may hold as dear? And there would be nothing you can do about it (whether you like it or not) because it would be enforced by all the power that comes from being law. Are you starting to understand why knowing the consequences and truly weighing them against alternative scenarios is important? Important as in say…voting?

Again, don’t let this point be lost on you. It truly is the crux of my argument. Think about it because what one thinks today as unimaginable can turn into reality tomorrow. If you think I’m trying to fear monger, or use the ole “when I went to school it was uphill both ways” argument. Think this…

The most influential group coming up the ranks that may contemplate whether or not the voting age should, or should not be raised out of respect for future generations may very well be the next batch of newly minted 18 year old’s. Where they may decide to form a movement pursuing, pushing, and mobilizing their own grass-roots and numbers for its passage. Many think the argument only resides or will be borne from some organizing “old geezers” constituent. But history shows us surprises can come from where one least expects it.

It’s quite possible (and perfectly lawful) it may very well be borne by some active and vocal group of 18 year-old’s the nation has ever seen. Remember, no matter what one thinks, or how hard one tries to escape it. The newest crop of 18 year-old’s at any time may take the sanctity of voting and its repercussions on the future more to heart than any predecessor – and decide for themselves how and when the “ferryman” in both death or taxes will be paid. After all – they will have to live the longest in what ever world they’re in, and may look at today’s constituent of 20 or 30 somethings – in the same light they look at their elders. Changes the whole landscape of who has the moral authority argument when put that way does it not?

At the same time let’s not forget the reason why you or I can even sit here and contemplate these current arguments was made possible in no small part this weekend in history by a group of individuals younger than today’s most recent graduates. Those that stormed into the teeth of a relentless and unrelenting foe with thousands upon thousands of lives lost and even more wounded, so that we can contemplate (as well as vote on) the issues of the day going forward.

If you want to impress upon yourself why voting in this country is looked upon with such reverence. Remembering D-Day should help you in that quest. Don’t take it for granted. Young – or old. And if you want more proof the world at any time could belong to someone 18.

Alexander The Great conquered the known world at about age 18.

How do you think he’d view talk instead of decisive action from many of today’s “adults?”

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr