No, 16- and 17-year-olds shouldn’t vote

 

No, 16- and 17-year-olds shouldn’t vote

No, 16- and 17-year-olds shouldn’t vote

NY Daily News

By ELIZABETH GIUFFRA

APR 11, 2019 | 12:00 PM

 I am 17 years old. My generation is the first to have grown up on social media. We get our news from screen-shots of one-sided posts on Snapchat, not from more the balanced Walter Cronkite. The presidential tweet has replaced the half-hour fireside chat.

My generation watches politicians, on the right and left, simplistically demonize their opponents. There is no middle ground. When we debate politics, my peers cite Trevor Noah and even “Saturday Night Live” as support for their “arguments.”

Last month, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D.-Mass.) introduced an amendment to the “For the People Act” to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote. Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed why: “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.”

House Democrats voted 125 to 108 for the amendment, but it failed 126-305. I do not believe that my peers are ready to vote. All too often, we are told what to think, by Taylor Swift, Alicia Keys and our teachers.

To “capture” my generation, progressive politicians promise free college, universal health care, and a Green New Deal to reverse climate change. It all sounds great, but we are never told that these proposals will add trillions of dollars to the already unsustainable national debt that our generation will have to support with higher taxes or inflation.

Instead, progressives tell us that the rich can pay higher taxes to fund these multi-trillion-dollar programs, even though there are not enough rich to foot the bill. We are never told, as Margaret Thatcher warned: “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” We are never told that higher taxes ultimately will lower living standards and that billionaire capitalists like Steve Jobs made our iPhones possible by raising money on Wall Street.

From President Trump, we hear slogans — “Make America Great Again” and “Build the Wall” — that motivate his Fox News base. But he has not, as FDR and Ronald Reagan did, persuaded many doubters to support his policies. We remain firmly divided into Red and Blue states, and the next presidential election likely will be won in a squeaker, not a landslide. There will be no mandate for Trumpian or progressive policies.

Some of my generation thinks Democratic Socialism is right for our country’s future. In January, an Axios poll found that nearly 50% of Gen Z would prefer to live in a socialist country. Not too long ago, Americans of all ages viewed socialism with skepticism. In 1996, Bill Clinton famously announced that “the era of big government is over.”

Supporters of having high schoolers vote cite our activism. Teenagers organized school strikes demanding laws to stop global warming and to support gun control. But it is one thing to rally and march. It is another to have the judgment to cast an independent vote.

In 1971, in the middle of the Vietnam War, both parties supported granting 18-year-olds the right to vote. That made sense. Politicians were sending 18- and 19-years-olds to fight and sometimes die in an unpopular war. But today’s 16- and 17-year-olds are not risking their lives by engaging in politically correct protests. Progressives are not consistent in their view of my generation’s readiness to accept responsibility for our actions — and our future. The same progressives who want us to vote push to raise to 21 the age for buying guns and tobacco and for criminal responsibility for crimes.

Having grown up on the internet, and with our elders engaged in food fight politics, my generation isn’t ready to vote. We haven’t learned how to think independently, much less to question what we are told by politicians making promises that they can’t keep. We should not allow our generation to be “captured” by one side or the other. If we wait a few years, we hopefully will have the maturity to cast our ballots for Democrats and Republicans who will work together to find purple solutions to our country’s problems.

Giuffra is a high school junior.

Posted on 25 Apr 2019, 12:17 - Category: 2019 Election

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