By Noel S. Williams
Some leftists have decried the U.S. Constitution as archaic and idiosyncratic. Actually, it provides an enduring framework for a vibrant polity. When respected, it engenders civil society while balancing the contradictory human tendencies of cooperation and competition. One “minor” imperfection is the 26th Amendment, which reduced the voting age of citizens from 21 to 18.
True, some of our founding fathers were rather young by today’s standards, but no one who signed the Declaration of Independence was under 25 years old. The most influential delegates to the Constitutional Convention were in their 30s. Importantly, they combined energy and experience, but nowadays 25 is the new 18.
Ratification of the 26th Amendment in the early 1970s, encouraged by leftists and a motley assortment of protesters, was the fastest in ratification history. Perhaps they should have been more deliberate, for some of the rationale that gave it impetus during the Vietnam War is now flawed. Moreover, those who vote for candidates who dare enter the ring, sometimes putting everything on the line, really should be closer to fine-tuning fully developed brains — that’s usually about age 25.
The slogan “old enough to fight, old enough to vote” was a popular refrain in the turbulent ‘60s, but now we have an all-volunteer force in which a very small percentage of Americans serve. Those who do qualify to join the military generally mature more quickly, often assuming positions of responsibility at a young age. They make enormous sacrifices in protecting our national security interests. They have earned the right to vote and generally appreciate mature citizens exercising civic responsibilities as one way to affirm their sacrifices.
Contrast the self-discipline and commitment of our young military members with the shambolic antics of their cohorts who attend university. Lacking sense of duty and honor that military members embrace, the indulgent students seem unable to restrain their unfettered desires. Naive young people sheltered from the real world by academia’s left-leaning ivory towers tend to exercise immodest judgment. Yet we allow them to vote.
Many 18- to 21-year-olds are still “children.” Indeed, one of the selling points of ObamaCare was that children can stay on their parents’ healthcare plan until they’re 26. Wow; they’re still labelled as a child at age 26. There’re reasons car insurance companies charge them exorbitant premiums, including recklessness and distraction. It’s also noteworthy that the National Institute of Health declares that the adolescent brain is fully developed around age 25.
Young adults are prone to confusion, frequently engaging in non-productive behaviors. Many children in the 18-25 age group are wishy-washy, and those who seek safe spaces in college do not have the mental fortitude to resist liberal brainwashing. Furthermore, they sign student loan contracts, incurring massive debt as they continually switch majors, but balk at repaying. Yet we allow them to vote.
The little liberal learners are intellectually unsophisticated, to be kind about it; indeed, their impressionable minds find comfort in the academic ambiance of their indoctrinating institution. With less than fully developed brains, they essentially embrace with impassioned fervor their first contorted notions of social justice. Often rebelling against their doting parents’ philosophy, they seek camaraderie with Gen Z comrades and succumb to leftist propaganda perpetuated by pitiful, progressive professors.
This is no jeremiad, but it recognizes the challenges today’s youth face and why we should protect them from false hope, such as student loan forgiveness that pandering politicians purvey. For example, prior to a federal judge — upheld by a federal appeals court — ruling Biden’s student debt relief program unconstitutional, a poll found that 73% of the bailed-out students planned to spend their windfall on travel, dining out, and new tech. Yet we allow them to vote.
In fact, many young people struggle to reach adulthood, which is definitely not the traditional age of majority. Lacking the determination to work, young adults often seek solace in mommy’s bosom, refusing to fly the coop. Overwhelmed by the immediacy of their wants and needs, many of today’s mollycoddled youths simply cannot control their rapacious appetites.
To help curb society’s liberal excesses and wanton desires, the brain has to rule the heart. For most, that starts at about age 25, which is the same age that the Constitution requires to run for Congress. How about also making it the same age to vote — excepting those who serve in the military? Perhaps we could split the difference and go back to the original age of 21.
A broad franchise is a laudable goal, but a knowledgeable electorate is crucial to a functional constitutional republic. That’s why, when responding to a question about what the constitutional delegates had crafted, Benjamin Franklin reportedly responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
We can’t outlaw stupidity, but we can protect immature youths who were hoodwinked by devious Dems. Remember, compared to mature adults, adolescents are emotionally overwrought and lack executive functioning skills — such as planning, self-control, and focusing attention — which is further evidence that 25 is the new 18.
Our Constitution provides a robust framework for forming a more perfect union. Giving emphasis to individual liberties over the imperatives of the organic state, it deserves our reverence. A slight imperfection is that one of its amendments, forged in the political maelstrom of the 1960s (ratified in 1971), reduced the voting age from 21 to 18. They may be big, but 18- to 21-year-olds are not all grown up.
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