Raise the Voting Age

Guess what? Turns out GOP and the media have been miscounting white voters for years, and there is no pressing need for “Hispanic outreach” or other pandering to nonwhites and aliens. It seems we were misled by biased exit-poll reports from 2012.

This comes from the New York Times of June 9th, in a column titled, “There Are More White Voters Than People Think. That’s Good News for Trump.”

New analysis . . . shows that millions more white, older working-class voters went to the polls in 2012 than was found by exit polls on Election Day. This raises the prospect that Mr. Trump has a larger pool of potential voters than generally believed.

The wider path may help explain why Mr. Trump is competitive in early general election surveys against Hillary Clinton. And it calls into question the prevailing demographic explanation of recent elections, which held that Barack Obama did very poorly among whites and won only because young and minority voters turned out in record numbers. This story line led Republicans to conclude that they had maximized their support from white voters and needed to reach out to Hispanics to win in 2016. [1]

Good news for Mr. Trump, yes, but only lukewarm tidings for white nationalists. Because the difference between those 2012 exit-poll extrapolations and the actual size of the “white vote” is only a few percentage points—72% vs 76%, according to tables in the NYTimes piece. And those are points that will inevitably die off in the coming decade, barring a happy catastrophe or demographic reversal.

What can we do to boost that percentage, back up to 80%, say, or even 90%? Well we can dream of turning off the nonwhite flood and deporting the illegals; but even if we were to succeed we would merely be slowing our decline. We need to evict a goodly number of the non-Europeans who have immigrated here since 1965. And for that to be more than a pipe-dream we need a lot of time and agency.

So in the meanwhile, to buy time, here’s a much simpler and more practical solution. Let’s raise the voting age—to 21, 25, or even 30. It was only in 1971 that the country lowered the age from the traditional 21 to 18. There’s no reason why we can’t or shouldn’t bump it up again.

There are several reasons why we need to do this. First, today’s under-30 generation is a very odd bunch of ducks. They are demonstrably more differentiated and alienated from their elders than any previous generation. Arguably they are also far more ignorant. If campus behavior is anything to go by (think of last fall’s antics at University of Missouri and Yale) they are the most misbehaved subgeneration in 45 years.

Some of this difference is due to technology. Think about it: no one under the age of 30 remembers the pre-Internet age, and no one under 21 remembers when there was no Google, World Wide Web, or even Yahoo! The Web and social media have democratized the information business, but they’ve also cheapened it. “Proof” to a tweeting millennial usually means little more than a hyperlink to a Wikipedia page. Patient research in card-catalogs and library stacks is an experience unknown to them. Give them a citation from a book not readily available on the InterWebz, and they will balk. It’s as though you’re telling them to consult a slab of cuneiform. When rioting Bernie kids shout “Trump is actually Hitler!,” they really mean it, because to them Adolf Hitler is not a real, historical person, but rather this Icon of Evil out of a video game or comic-book movie.

A second, overlapping, argument is the racial and cultural one. Unless trends suddenly change, we are rapidly approaching the tipping point (2020, say some [2]) where the under-18s are majority nonwhite. This means that in ten years or so the majority of 18-year-olds will be nonwhite. At that point it will virtually impossible for us to pass the necessary initiatives for making us a white European country once again.

Finally, there is the utter madness of letting 18-year-olds have the vote in the first place—particularly today.  What sort of collective memory does that age-cohort have about national issues? In 1950, 18-year-olds could remember the Great Depression, Wendell Willkie, and World War II—but they couldn’t vote. Today’s 18-year-olds weren’t even around when Bill Clinton was in the Oval Office, getting blow jobs from Monica Lewinsky. They don’t remember, or know, that President Clinton was impeached and nearly removed from office in 1998. The World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001, and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in 2002-2003 are details they learn about about from history class and websites. Say “president” to them, and they think “Barack Obama.” They know he is somehow better than his predecessor, but that’s the limit of their analysis.

These kids should not have a say in our elections. Not for another few years anyway.

Letting 18-year-olds have the vote was always sort of ludicrous. The voting-age change came about suddenly in 1971, in a wave of misplaced enthusiasm. Congress proposed the new voting-age law in March of that year, and by July of that year the 26th Amendment to the Constitution had been ratified by three-fourths of the states and signed into law by President Richard Nixon. Few politicians or press pundits expressed doubts, and fewer still could offer any sensible rationale for the radical change. At best we were given trite reminders of a line from whiny protest song from 1966:

You’re old enough to kill, but not for votin’
You don’t believe in war, but boy that gun you’re totin’ [3]

For public-relations purposes, this sentiment was sanitized into the simplistic slogan, “Old enough to fight—old enough to vote!”

Signing it into law in July 1971, President Nixon endorsed the new Amendment with this steaming forkful of valetudinarian ordure:

“The reason I believe that your generation, the 11 million new voters, will do so much for America at home is that you will infuse into this nation some idealism, some courage, some stamina, some high moral purpose, that this country always needs.”[4.]

What Mr. Nixon really meant was, We know there are a lot of you Baby Boomers out there, and it’s only prudent and practical for us old fogies to pander to you. Please remember us, come Election Day 1972.

The “old enough to fight” argument was always full of holes. For if the issue truly was one of equity and fairness, then why was the franchise being extended to girls in their late teens—no draft for them—as well as to young men whom the Selective Service classified as 4-F (ineligible for service) or 2-S (student deferment)?  Moreover, the Nixon Administration was officially phasing out the draft and replacing it with an all-volunteer Army. So the whole fairness-for-draftees argument was about to turn moot anyway.

The 26th Amendment was not based on some suddenly perceived idealism or responsibility in the newest crop of 18-year-olds. No, it was a political gimme, plain and simple. Its shallowness and hypocrisy was revealed by other public-policy initiatives of the next few years, particularly those pertaining to drinking age.

In 1972, the first year the Amendment took effect, an 18-year-old could get a beer (and usually spirits) in New York, Connecticut, Wisconsin and about dozen other states. Some of these states had recently lowered their drinking ages from 21 to 18, in a bout of enthusiasm over the new voting age. But it didn’t work out. A few years and many thousands of teenage motoring deaths later, governors and legislatures thought better of the whole thing, and pushed their drinking age back to 20 or 21. Finally, in 1984, Congress passed the National Minimum Age Act, which pretty much forced all states to raise their drinking age, across the board, to 21 years of age, where it has been ever since.

Now, logically, Congress should have rethought the 26th Amendment as well. (Do we really want 18-year-olds to make a car wreck of our election process?) But no one wanted to bell that cat. For one thing, repealing an amendment is difficult, generally supposed to be well-nigh impossible. [5.] For another, no politician in the 1980s dared suggest that the vote-candy be taken away from college freshmen.

And so, against all reason, the voting age stayed right where Congress and Mr. Nixon put it in 1971.

Raising the voting age has been proposed before, generally in a frivolous it-can’t-be-done-but-really-should-be sort of way, in National Review and elsewhere, generally with an emphasis on the ignorance and lack of gravitas among today’s college-age youth. Population trends and national decline get neatly sidestepped in these treatments, along with discussion of how upping the voting age might favor the interests of traditional Americans. Certainly they don’t touch the main benefit, which is that raising the age would give us the time and leverage we need to reverse the demographic damage of the last few decades.

But how to do it? I offer some rough ideas:

First, we replace the 26th Amendment with a new one, providing staged increases of the voting age. I propose a final target of  30. Presuming we could ratify the new Amendment in 2017, we could could begin by making the voting age 21 as of January 1, 2018. (The only 2016 voters to be disenfranchised by this would be those turning 18 this year: a miniscule part of the current electorate.) Three years later, 2021, the voting age goes to 25, temporarily disenfranchising a few more but, again, not very many (those born in 1997). Finally, in 2024, the voting age becomes 30.

As corollaries to this age scheme, we need to rationalize the voting privileges of naturalized citizens. I expect these proposals to be much more controversial than the incremental age-increase.Voting privileges should be withheld for ten years after naturalization; or in the case of childhood immigrants, and anchor babies born to illegal and non-naturalized citizens, ten years after the current statutory age. Thus, if you’re an anchor baby, and you’re still here in 2024, you will need to wait till you’re 40 before you can cast a vote in the USA. These provisions would affect naturalized citizens immediately, regardless of whether they’d ever voted previously.

In addition, we probably should remove most or all welfare recipients from the voting rolls. (This would not affect those receiving unemployment compensation, Medicare, Social Security retirement or disability payments.) Reportedly over 100 million people in America,  mainly native-born citizens, now receive some kind of Federal means-tested welfare payments. [6.][7.]  This is not intended as any kind of punitive measure for those on welfare, rather it reflects the simple principle that voting should be restricted to those who are current stakeholders and taxpayers in the community.

But the key provision of my proposed Amendment is the increase in voting age. It will stabilize our electoral demographics and give us the needed breathing-space to implement much-needed ethnographic reforms. Its incremental implementation can be done with a variety of different formulas; my outline above is only one suggestion.

The basic plan is not really unusual. Currently the Social Security Administration follows a similar method in raising the age at which one receives full benefits. As the vast majority of the electorate would not be affected by a graduated rise in voting age—and let’s face it, the older generations would love to stick it to the brats—I expect this Amendment would attract massive popular support and negligible opposition.

Notes

1. New York Times, June 9, 2016. “There Are More White Voters Than People Think.”

2. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/03/04/390672196/for-u-s-children-minorities-will-be-the-majority-by-2020-census-says

3. “Eve of Destruction” by P.F. Sloan, 1964. Recorded by Barry McGuire, 1965.

4. http://www.history.com/topics/the-26th-amendment

5. When Prohibition Repeal was first proposed in the early 1930s, politicians and media widely insisted that it couldn’t be done; not by revoking the Eighteenth Amendment anyway. The proposed solution, and the one initially implemented, was to have Congress rewrite the Federal enforcement law (Volstead Act) so that certain beverages—beer and wine—would no longer be considered “intoxicating liquors” and thus subject to the Eighteenth Amendment. But against all expectations the 21st Amendment repealing Prohibition was fully ratified in the course of 1933. See Daniel Okrent’s highly entertaining Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, 2010.

6. http://economyincrisis.org/content/percentage-of-americans-now-on-welfare-paints-a-disturbing-picture-of-the-state-of-our-economy

7. http://cis.org/Welfare-Use-Immigrant-Native-Households

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Raise the Voting Age