Friday, September 07, 2007

Lowering the voting age to 16

Sue Bradford pulled her bill as it wasn't garnering support at this time. I still see some merit in the proposal but acknowledge I'm in a small minority. Interestingly they are considering the same question in the UK. In the UK however it would appear there is considerably more support for change.

The Populus parliamentary panel of MPs in July showed that, while Liberal Democrats were heavily in favour of reducing the voting age from 18 to 16, Labour MPs were narrowly (53 per cent) against, but Tory members were heavily (83 per cent) opposed.


ZenTiger said...

Hi Lindsay. I'm against lowering the age, mainly because I haven't seen any really good arguments for it. I had a discussion on another great blog (Half Done hosted by Scrubone) about this a while ago. Here's a comment of mine towards the end of the chat after Jane suggested looking for some form of reduced vote. Might be something in this brain dump that interests you:
I’m generally not a big fan of compromise. A compromise is where everyone loses equally. I’m more for win-win. If that cannot be achieved, then one party has to do the honourable thing and step back and give the other team a go.

If something is worth doing, its worth doing right.

So what does that all mean? Well, a half vote is too much like a compromise. And it adds a bureaucratic element. I really, really, hate bureaucracy.

I also suspect that kids who leave home at age 15, are probably doing so for all the wrong reasons (even if they are necessary reasons). A child from a dysfunctional family running out the door and left to survive for themselves is probably sacrificing education, working in a low paying job or living on the whim of the state. Their voting choices will be directed inwards, not outwards.

The richer the society, I think it is more likely the voting choices of the people are going to be about things bigger than themselves. Raising a family is the practice run for this attitude. It no doubt surprises many on the left that my voting choice is not about maximising my tax return, but about what I think the result will be for the country. Some of these people are stuck on socialism and unlimited welfare as the only solution.

My 10 year old son has learned the difference: When he was 5 I gave him pocket money for doing what he wanted with. No strings attached. At 10, he is expected to earn it. Either way he gets a roof, clothes, meals and my love.

Another thing it seems to me is that people are keen to get things “now”. Hire Purchase and Credit Cards at high interest rates have done much to fuel a materialistic and consumeristic view of society, and push the “why wait” mentality.

Patience is a virtue, and things that people pay for are appreciated more than when they get them for free. (This explains my basic attitude to property ownership and that people do not have a right to food etc. As a society, we have an obligation to help those less fortunate, which is a different approach to the government forcing redistribution to support someone else’s “right” - but I digress)

Strangely enough, paying for something via credit card is not the same as saving the money and going in and then deliberately spending it on that specific item.

So, patience waiting for the vote and learning about how to exercise it isn’t a bad thing. Young people can still get involved in politics - handing out brochures, collecting petitions, doing their marches etc. Learning. Speaking.

Are the voices of young people being ignored?

All parties tend to have a Youth Minister, or at least policies targeting the youth group. They know that they will be voters, and the marketing of policy starts early. You don’t need to actually wield a vote for parties not to see the value in listening to future voters.

If 16 year olds get the vote, I bet the various parties, and especially Labour and Greens, would target 13 and 14 year olds and prime them for the time they can choose which marketing campaign “feels” the most right.

It is obvious that some teenagers are quite mature, well educated and can articulate a valid opinion. Of course they deserve the vote, from an intellectual sense.

However, on the whole, most teenagers have a long way to go in their maturation process. This group does well in all of the “stupid thing to do” category, from dangerous driving, binge drinking, experimentation with drugs, rebelling against parents (who, for the most part just want to keep their children safe during a difficult period) and generally thinking about experiencing life. The larger portion of this group do not think and act like adults.

Many adults also do not think and act like adults, but there comes a time when we have to say - you are on your own. Make your decisions and accept the consequences.

For me, that line of adulthood needs to be worth earning, and needs to have responsibilities attached to privileges.

Handing out the privileges before being given the chance to demonstrate the responsibility is too much of this “now” mentality that diminishes the value of the privilege.

So personally, and given this is a bit of an off the cuff response, I’d tend towards making 20 the age of majority. That’s the “feels right” number for me. Perhaps because it is the first year not officially a teenager?

But the current law is 18. That’s a number I can, in good grace, accede to. A bit early, but then again, my strong opinion is held weakly.

Making the age 16 is an age I can see many unscrupulous people and groups exploiting. So, still not convinced 16 is the right age.

Regards, Zen
Rest of thread

Libertyscott said...

Gee funny how leftwing parties are always in favour - because they always seduce the naive kiddies who want nanny to dish our goodies to them or stop bad things happening with new laws.

Of course the LibDems simply are looking for a constituency since there isn't really one for them anymore.

Anonymous said...

Mature adults tend to not push their political views onto young people, but give a balanced account on issues when asked to explain why some things happen the way they do. Lowering the voting age would encourage the unscrupulous to poison young minds.