Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I don't know why Republicans don't just openly call for the disenfranchisement of Democrats. Even when Republicans are winning elections -- and especially when they aren't -- they love to suggest that votes from groups that prefer the Democratic Party are somehow illegitimate.

Ann Coulter says it would be a good thing (i.e., good for Republicans) if we took away women's right to vote. Republicans regularly talk of blacks and Hispanics as plantation-dwellers, as if non-whites' votes for Democrats aren't freely cast. (Robert Novak: "Where would the Democrats be if they're not picking up around 90 percent of the black vote? What if black voters started moving off the Democratic plantation?")

And in the past couple of days we've had two right-wing pundits arguing that it will be a perversion of democracy if Barack Obama wins in November because, after all, a lot of his votes are going to come from young people, who don't really deserve them.

Here's Dennis Prager at TownHall:

We regularly hear about Barack Obama's appeal to youth, about how he has been able to excite and mobilize a generation of young people to become politically involved, his rare ability to excite young people, and about how many new voters will register (and vote Democrat) as a result.

All this seems to be true. The question, however, is whether it is a good thing for the country and not just for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.

The answer is that it probably is not. With a few exceptions ... when youth get involved in politics in large numbers, it is not a good thing.

... For those of us who view the late '60s and '70s as the beginning of a downward spiral for American society, ... the mobilization of many young people on behalf of Barack Obama is not encouraging. It is only the latest example of young people getting excited as a result of their unique combination of naivete, lack of wisdom, romantic idealism and narcissism.

Most adults throughout history have recognized that young people are likely to be unwise given their minuscule amount of life experience. After all, most adults, even among baby boomers, believe that they themselves are wiser today than 10 years ago, let alone than when they were 20 years old....

Young people also did horrible things in France in 1968, Prager says, and the '68 generation still controls the hated France. (Er, I thought age conferred maturity, Dennis.) And yes, young people do good things once in a while (e.g., in "those rare cases when young people confront dictatorships"), but these are exceptions to the rule.

The civil rights era? Not relevant, says Prager:

Yes, young people were also involved in the civil rights movement. And that was a wonderful thing. But unlike the anti-war movement, which was largely spearheaded by, and relied for its effectiveness on, young people, the civil rights movement did not need massive numbers of young people in order to prevail.

(I think that would be news to the students who participated in lunch-counter sit-ins, or to SNCC members such as John Lewis, who was 21 when he first participated in a Freedom Ride, or to the many young people who did voter-registration work in the Deep South, such as James Chaney, dead at 21, Andrew Goodman, dead at 20, and Michael Schwerner, dead at 24.)

Over at Pajamas Media, Burt Prelutsky expresses similar sentiments:

...Frankly, I hate the idea that some kid who may still be in high school canceled out my vote for no better reason than that he’s a fan of Sean Penn or went to a Dixie Chicks concert.

Whenever I suggest that teenagers shouldn’t be allowed to vote for anything but student body president or prom queen, I know that someone is bound to say, “If they’re old enough to fight and die in Afghanistan and Iraq, they’re old enough to vote.”

To which I invariably respond, “You’re absolutely right. If they’re serving in the military, I agree they should be able to vote. But if they’re still in school, still getting an allowance and using their mom or dad’s credit card to buy gas, I say they have no more business electing the president than my dog Duke does.”

Let’s face it, ladies and gentlemen, if we raised the voting age to, say, 25, the Democratic party would go the way of the dodo and the Whigs....

Er, Burt? The 26th Amendment was certified in 1971, when Richard Nixon was president, and he had kind words for it. In six of the nine presidential elections we've had since then, Republicans have won the White House.

There might be a lefty pundit somewhere who's suggested that it's time we took suffrage away from white males, but I don't know who that pundit is. For some members of the GOP, on the other hand, virtually every other demographic group's vote is suspect.

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