Isaac’s Modest Proposal: Let’s institute a maximum voting age

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Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

For some reason, a lot of bloggers have evil twins. Tyler Cowen’s twin, Tyrone, argues for a bunch of nasty policy prescriptions. Jason Brennan’s twin, Jasper, mainly attacks what we see as decent moral principles. My evil twin, Isaac, was reading about the voting rights bill named for John Lewis on Yahoo news and decided that a criticism of the ‘easier votes is better’ was in order. Although I believe in free speech, I would have preferred never to air his repugnant views on The Daily Campus. However, this evil, brilliant man confused me by talking about cancel culture, and while I was confused, he penned the argument you see below. It’s such a shame that my mother lets him sit at the kitchen table and disturb everyone around. 

“Voting rights are exactly the wrong thing to hope for. Rather than making voting easier, one should aim to make it significantly harder. Instead of considering the ways we can make the probably least-informed people more involved, we should siphon out those who aren’t competent to make effective decisions.  

So, when people argue to make 21 the minimum voting age, I wholeheartedly agree. Those who point out that teenagers are still developing are right, but when it comes to applying the principles of ‘only the competent can vote’ it never seems to fairly apply this principle. If our goal is to remove those with a greater effect on our country, we might want to consider a modest proposal of instituting a maximum voting age. After all, the elderly vote in far greater numbers than the average teenager.  

Here are three reasons for my modest proposal to disenfranchise the elderly. First, it would drastically improve the average judgement of the electorate. Secondly, it would lead to a more proportionate representation of young people who would have a greater stake in the future. Finally, it would eliminate an especially expensive lobby in one fell swoop. 

One problem that many Americans would rather ignore is that many elderly people are set in their ways and are unable to keep up with what’s happening in society. In the same way that the average 15-year-old does not have the right to drive a car because of the average amount of risk (despite the particulars); or a 17-year-old the right to vote, we should avoid giving too much steering power to the extremely elderly. 

We see this in our representatives whenever they try to talk about internet policies; they have no idea what they’re talking about. Unfortunately, the internet isn’t the only thing that elderly people struggle to understand. Many important social issues such as gay marriage, education funding and immigration leave them behind the times. Although some see voting as symbolic, it’s important to recognize that processes matter. It matters when ancients make decisions that affect everyone without the basic understanding of the issues. It matters when our economic policy is determined by those who still think in terms of the Cold War.  

If granny can’t work her flip phone, does anyone really think that she should have much of a say in deciding who should have nuclear codes? I don’t care if Mitt Romney looks like your grandson, I want to choose the people most qualified for the job. 

Adding to this problem is the alarming frequency that dementia and other forms of cognitive decline play in the elderly. 25 percent of those age 80 to 84 have mild cognitive impairment. In the same way that I’m not particularly disturbed that felons do not have the right to vote, even after they’ve served their time, I think that other people with impaired judgement should have their voting rights similarly curtailed. 

The second issue that instituting a maximum voting age would likely change is how old politicians are. We currently live in a gerontocracy. Baby Boomers make up 70 percent of Congress, a generation that constitutes only 21percent of all Americans. Donald Trump and Joe Biden are the two consecutive oldest presidents to take office. Prior to Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, the average age of a supreme court justice was 78.7 

The idea that all branches of government heavily overrepresent elderly people is a problem, but it gets worse when you consider that there’s a dearth of millennial political leaders. This could be a problem in terms of consistency of government, as there aren’t many capable replacements for de facto leaders Nancy Pelosi (81) and Mitch McConnell (79). Furthermore, because our political leaders are extremely old, they care less about long term problems such as climate change and national debt. They have no problem letting our children ‘hold the bag’ as the Earth and the economy tank. After all, the elderly have a limited commitment to solving these problems; they aren’t going to have to live through them. 

Lastly, this plan would strongly limit the power of the elderly lobby. It’s commonly known that touching Social Security or Medicare is the third rail of politics. This is in large part because of the concentrated power that organizations like the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) wield. Accordingly, the government’s largest expenses are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid which make up 65 percent of the federal budget. The military industrial complex is getting peanuts compared to the elderly lobby. The AARP (38 million members) is a powerful force that can turn elections which is why we’re spending trillions on a regressive tax to fund the wealthiest generation alive (while probably bankrupting our kids). Taking away some of the 38 million+ votes from one of the most powerful generations may be an important corrective to the power of the old. Limiting the power of the elderly provides the ability to focus more on the future rather than the past. 

Having a maximum voting age would create a more competent electorate, a more representative government, and would lead to more forward-thinking.”  

Isn’t Isaac repulsive? No wonder I was mom’s favorite twin. 

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