Young people who cannot hear dissenting ideas without running to the authorities have no business voting at the ballot box
Since the generation of coddled students now going through university expect and demand to feel “comfortable” at all times, insisting that trigger warnings be slapped on anything which may challenge them – and retreating into strictly enforced “safe spaces” if that doesn’t work – perhaps the time has come to stop treating people in their late teens and early twenties like real adults.
After all, if today’s wobbly-lipped generation of Stepford Students need the authorities to ban controversial speakers, punish dissenting opinions and treat everybody as though they are either current or recovering victims of severe trauma, they are essentially already asking to be treated like children.
At least that’s the point made by Glenn Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor, in USA Today:
In 1971, the United States ratified the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. In retrospect, that may have been a mistake.
The idea, in those Vietnam War years, was that 18-year-olds, being old enough to be drafted, to marry and to serve on juries, deserved a vote. It seemed plausible at the time, and I myself have argued that we should set the drinking age at 18 for the same reasons.
But now I’m starting to reconsider. To be a voter, one must be able to participate in adult political discussions. It’s necessary to be able to listen to opposing arguments and even — as I’m doing right here in this column — to change your mind in response to new evidence.
This evidence suggests that, whatever one might say about the 18-year-olds of 1971, the 18-year-olds of today aren’t up to that task. And even the 21-year-olds aren’t looking so good.
Reynolds goes on to cite the various examples of student and young adult infantilisation with which we have become depressingly familiar over the past year – calls to outlaw clapping and booing, tearful temper tantrums about dress codes, stifling ideas by labelling them ‘problematic’, the insistence on safe spaces and mandatory sexual consent workshops.
If people still look to external authorities to help them navigate daily life, mediate normal encounters and resolve commonplace disputes, we should probably keep them as far away from the ballot box as possible, argues Reynolds:
This isn’t the behavior of people who are capable of weighing opposing ideas, or of changing their minds when they are confronted with evidence that suggests that they are wrong. It’s the behavior of spoiled children.
[..] But children don’t vote. Those too fragile to handle different opinions are too fragile to participate in politics. So maybe we should raise the voting age to 25, an age at which, one fervently hopes, some degree of maturity will have set in. It’s bad enough to have to treat college students like children. But it’s intolerable to begoverned by spoiled children. People who can’t discuss Halloween costumes rationally don’t deserve to play a role in running a great nation.
It is ironic that at the same time there is a push to lower the voting age in the UK – the Lords recently voted to allow sixteen and seventeen-year-olds to vote in the coming Brexit referendum – people only slightly older and now at university, who already have the vote, are busy regressing back into emotional childhood.
This blog believes firmly in universal suffrage and a single, defined threshold of legal adulthood at the age of eighteen. But given the increasing number of campus incidents of precious snowflake students demanding that the authorities curtail their liberties for their own “safety” – and the fact that increasing age is the last, best hope of gaining wisdom – the idea of raising the voting age does start to feel awfully tempting.
Top Image: grrrgraphics.com
h/t Patrick West in Spiked
Agree with this article? Violently disagree? Scroll down to leave a comment.