Right Opinion

The Democrats' Voting-Rights-for-Teenagers Scam


Guest Commentary · Apr. 1, 2019

By Candace Owens


An overwhelming majority of Americans know that lowering the voting age to 16 years old is a very bad idea. Nonetheless, a majority of Democrats are convinced that they know better than the rest of us.


Earlier this month, 125 House Democrats voted in favor of the initiative, backing a failed proposal that would have severely weakened the integrity of our democratic election system. The measure was defeated, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently attempted to keep the idea alive, arguing that she supports giving high school sophomores the right to vote in national elections.


“I myself, personally, I’m not speaking for my caucus, I myself have always been for lowering the voting age to 16,” the lawmaker said. “I think it’s really important to capture kids when they’re in high school when they’re interested in all of this when they’re learning about government to be able to vote."


Even some of the most prominent Democrat candidates for president in 2020 — including Senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Amy Klobuchar — are jumping on the bandwagon, publicly announcing that they are open to the idea of lowering the voting age to 16.


Pelosi’s Democratic Party colleagues may share her views on the matter, but the American people most definitely don’t — one recent poll found that 74 percent of likely voters oppose lowering the voting age, with just 17 percent endorsing the idea.


To a large extent, that result simply reflects common sense. As a society, we’ve decided it’s in our best interest not to entrust 16-year-olds with a variety of privileges, such as getting married or watching R-rated movies. We don’t even give 16-year-olds full driving privileges — every single state imposes some sort of restriction on young drivers until they reach a certain age or amass a certain amount of driving experience.


There are also compelling scientific reasons to keep the voting age where it is. As we improve our understanding of childhood development and the brains of teenagers, it becomes increasingly clear that 16-year-olds simply lack the maturity, mental capacity, and decision-making skills to be thoughtful and informed voters.


According to a 2008 report from the University of California-Berkeley, most teenagers aren’t capable of processing information or controlling impulses in the same way as adults — a factor that largely explains the high crime rates among adolescents.


"For many teens, the output of their underdeveloped decision processing centers may be as mild as choosing a bag of cheese puffs for lunch or a new purple hairdo,” the report explains. “But some youngsters take bigger risks — such as stealing a car or trying drugs. More 17-year-olds commit crimes than any other age group, according to recent studies by psychiatrists."


More recently, scientists have claimed that the human brain may not reach full maturity until around age 30, suggesting that it would make more sense to consider raising the voting age than lowering it.


Besides, even if teenagers were capable of rational decision-making, they would still lack the life experience necessary to make fully-informed decisions. With extremely few exceptions, teenagers have never paid bills or taxes, or even worked a non-seasonal full-time job, detaching them from some of the most hotly debated policy issues in American politics.


Of course, the very qualities that cause nearly three-quarters of Americans to recoil from the idea of letting 16-year-olds vote are also what make them so attractive to Democrats. Someone who has never paid taxes, after all, probably won’t be very motivated to vote against tax increases, just as someone whose only experience in the workforce comes from part-time jobs probably won’t see any harm in raising the minimum wage.


The lack of impulse control plays right into the Democrats’ hands, too. Impulsivity is key to many of their flagship policy proposals, including Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. That’s because support for such measures invariably collapses once people look beyond tag-lines such as "free healthcare” and “save the planet” to consider the trillions upon trillions of dollars in new taxes and severe restrictions on individual liberty that those policies would entail.


Lowering the voting age is just a ploy by the Democratic Party to change the electoral system to favor them in 2020 so that they can avoid a repetition of their embarrassing defeat in 2016. Fortunately, the American people saw through this trick from the start.


Candace Owens is communications director for Turning Point USA.

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