I was a mere lad of nine when they lowered the age of the majority from twenty-one to eighteen. When I was a college sophomore, I saw the drinking age being raised back to twenty-one one year at a time (19, 20, then 21) over three years; it was twenty-one on my graduation day—no matter, I only consume alcohol moderately even as a college student. When I was sixteen with desires to do things like drive a car and vote in elections, I would never have argued for the age of the majority to return to twenty-one; but I was as young and stupid as every other adolescent was then. Based on the metamorphosis I have witnessed thirty-five years after graduation, I have become a serious advocate of a global age of the majority of twenty-one across the board; with some reservations about the voting age.
One thing I never expected to happen was the legalization of recreational marijuana. Some states have done this and I think it is a big mistake. In Colorado, you have to be twenty-one to drink and purchase alcohol but you can purchase legal marijuana at age eighteen. Now Washington State, the second state to legalize recreational marijuana, wants to raise the tobacco age to twenty-one. It seems to me it would be far simpler to just press the 1971 reset button and just make the age of the majority twenty-one across the board although I may be flexible on the voting age.
First of all, the reason for lowering the age of the majority down to eighteen was because we were still engaged in the Viet Nam Conflict and the draft age was lowered from twenty-two to nineteen; in hopes of a better physical specimen serving our country. It made sense that if you are old enough to give your life for your country, you should be able to have a drink and more important, to vote and have a say whether you should be fighting that war or not. Since the Viet Nam War ended for good in 1976, all branches of the military are all-volunteer. If we are ever engaged in a military ordeal that will require invoking a draft, we can give early emancipation to nineteen-year old draftees.
Recently, I have found on the Internet some well-written essays arguing for lowering the voting age from eighteen to sixteen. Duly noted, I said the essays were well written; not that I am buying the argument. Studies on cranial development are beginning to raise eyebrows as to whether sixteen is too young to drive a car. It is no fault of any intelligent teenager; scientists just seem to believe the cranium needs more time to get the dare-devil tendency out of oneself. Now this poses the question: if a person should not be empowered to operate a motor vehicle on our streets and highways because in some instances, they still need to feel the flames to see if they are hot, should that same person be trusted to formulate intelligent opinions unadulterated by peer pressure (meaning not to become a liberal or conservative because their friends are) and hence empowered to be part of the decision-making process in our delicate American democracy? I say no, but my persona of adolescence is how I lived and what I witnessed when I was part of it. My visions of teenage lifestyle are used cars in a high school parking lot with loud music, loud voices speaking of things that don’t really matter, rebellious clothing and hairstyles, some of them engaging in alcohol and marijuana, some morally upstanding. Now as an elder statesman on the outside looking in, do you want that person voting in major elections deciding the future of this country for a generation or more? And now that social media is a large part of every teenager’s life, the propaganda and bills of goods they could buy into makes it even scarier. Socialist Democrat Bernie Sanders, at age seventy-four, is very popular among America’s youth and many youngsters are sold on socialism. At their tender ages, they could vote away freedom and democracy as we know it. Therefore, I would not support lowering the voting age to sixteen. I have no reason to raise it above eighteen at the present time.
Unlike my generation, teenagers today have a lot more information available to them due to the Internet and social media. The problem is until the cranium if fully developed, they have a little trouble sorting fact from fiction. Youth drivers have the most accidents due to poor judgment. You also need good judgment to form opinions and make political decisions like what to stand for, what to stand against, and who to vote for in elections. One thing I have come across this last month on the Internet is how some states are organizing for a Convention of States. There is a group called conventionofstates.com located in Purcellville, Virginia that argues for limited government. I am a strong advocate for limited government but I do not approve of such an extreme and drastic method. Even the John Birch Society is against a Con-Con.
To give you some background, there are two ways to initiate amending the Constitution. The “safe” method is with the approval of two-thirds of both houses of Congress. Because members of Congress, like the President, are under oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution…, the limitations of such motion would be for a new amendment to the Constitution, or an amendment to repeal an amendment as the twenty-first repealed the eighteenth (alcohol prohibition). The second method involves two-thirds of the states’ legislatures (34 out of 50 states) to approve of an application to Congress for a Convention of States defined in Article V. In any case, a Constitutional change has to be ratified either by three-quarters of both houses of Congress or by three-quarters of the states. The latter method is risky business.
Unlike elected representatives under a Constitutional Oath, a Convention of States can be made up of everyday citizens under no such oath whatsoever. You will not know their names or what states they represent. They can go beyond a simple amendment; they can trash the Constitution and invoke a new one that may not include all the fundamental rights such as free speech, freedom of religion, and the right to bear arms. A form of Article V existed in the Articles of Confederation we lived under from 1781-1788; one big difference; all thirteen colonies had to be on board. With the Articles of Confederation proving to be an abysmal failure, the colonists called for The Convention of States in 1787 which led to the Articles of Confederation replaced by our current Constitution which defines the inalienable rights of the people, and made the United States of America the greatest nation God ever allowed on this hunk of mud we call Earth.
Now try to imagine sixteen-year olds attending a convention and making decisions on our Constitution. If the Constitution goes, so goes the Republic, and so go the freedoms and liberties they are so anxious to have as they cross the borders of Child World to never return again as the song goes. The same dare devils with used cars in the beach parking lot can abolish freedom and democracy if they were to exercise the same mentality at a Convention of States, or to vote for left-wing candidates that know just how to appeal to these underdeveloped craniums.
If any teenagers are reading this, I am not your enemy. I am trying to point out how fragile our democracy really is and hope that America will be a free country long after I am buried six feet under. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you assume your rites of passage into adulthood. I want you to have opportunities to thrive in a limited government nation as I believe limited government is our best hope for a balanced budget and the ability to build your dreams. I leave you with this peace of mind: a democracy can vote in a dictator, but a dictatorship cannot vote in a democracy.