Posted on November 13, 2015

After Yale, Mizzou, Raise the Voting Age — to 25

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, USA Today, November 13, 2015

In 1971, the United States ratified the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. In retrospect, that may have been a mistake.

The idea, in those Vietnam War years, was that 18-year-olds, being old enough to be drafted, to marry and to serve on juries, deserved a vote. It seemed plausible at the time, and I myself have argued that we should set the drinking age at 18 for the same reasons.

But now I’m starting to reconsider. To be a voter, one must be able to participate in adult political discussions. It’s necessary to be able to listen to opposing arguments and even–as I’m doing right here in this column–to change your mind in response to new evidence.

This evidence suggests that, whatever one might say about the 18-year-olds of 1971, the 18-year-olds of today aren’t up to that task. And even the 21-year-olds aren’t looking so good.

Consider Yale University, where a disagreement over what to do about–theoretically–offensive Halloween costumes devolved into a screaming fit by a Yale senior (old enough to vote, thanks to the 26th Amendment) who assaulted a professor, Nicholas Christakis, with a profane tirade because his failure to agree with her made her feel . . . unsafe.  {snip}


This isn’t the behavior of people who are capable of weighing opposing ideas, or of changing their minds when they are confronted with evidence that suggests that they are wrong. It’s the behavior of spoiled children–a characterization that Friedersdorf, perhaps unconsciously, underscores by not reporting the students’ names because, he implies, they are too young to be responsible for their actions. And spoiled children shouldn’t vote.

And this is at Yale, where–alarmingly–the students are supposed to represent America’s leaders of tomorrow.  But the problem isn’t just at Yale, as the University of Missouri recently saw student protests oust a president for . . . well, it’s not entirely clear what he did, but it had something to do with not being sensitive enough to students’ feelings. Nor, sadly, are such events unique; campus craziness has become a standard story line, with new examples appearing almost daily.