Home / Old enough to fight, old enough to vote, but no influence  
Image of Old enough to fight, old enough to vote, but no influence

"No taxation without representation" was a popular slogan that summarized a major grievance the British colonists had with England. The idea is simple enough to understand: if I don't get any substantive influence in how I am governed, I will not participate in funding and/or sanctioning the government. It's a continuing theme across much of history, and one of the fundamentals of democracy.

Seems reasonable enough, right?

We saw the same theme regarding military service. For years, the minimum voting age in the US had been 21 years old. Contrast this with the minimum age requirement of 18 to be drafted into the military (after the US entered World War II). In other words, although you were old enough to fight, you were not old enough to vote. Why should someone who is 18 support his government - with his life - if he doesn't have any substantive influence over how those policies affect him? This lack of influence led to growing activism, especially among young people.

In 1954, Dwight Eisenhower was the first president to argue that there should be a constitutional amendment lowering the minimum voting age to 18:

"For years our citizens between the ages of 18 and 21 have, in time of peril, been summoned to fight for America. They should participate in the political process that produces this fateful summons. I urge Congress to propose to the States a constitutional amendment permitting citizens to vote when they reach the age of 18."

Nothing changed, and anti-war activism increased, especially among students. More and more Americans were going off to what many considered a "totally poisoned" war. People hadn't any substantive influence over the direction of their government.

Responding to the growing outrage, in 1970, Richard Nixon and Congress amended the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to lower the minimum age requirement to 18 for federal, state, and local elections, knowing full-well that part of it was unconstitutional.

But here's the key point and what's especially interesting: after the law was quickly determined as partially unconstitutional, within a 4-month period (March 10, 1971 - July 1, 1971), the US government passed and implemented a constitutional amendment to lower the minimum age requirements everywhere. The 26th Amendment to the US Constitution was the fastest any amendment had ever been adopted by the states, even faster than the Bill of Rights. And this was even before the Internet made any difference.

Yet, even with the amendment, voter turnout continues to be very low, especially among young people. It's as if people don't think their vote matters. In an environment where the Federal Reserve bails out the big banks and corporate elites, and where one-third of your campaign funds come from Wall Street donors, perhaps they are correct. After all, what good is your right to vote if your voice doesn't make a difference anyway? Clearly, the government doesn't think that young people are responsible; for example, just because you're old enough to fight doesn't mean you're old enough to drink.

Do you think the general population has any substantive influence on the direction of government today? How is it that the US government could pass a constitutional amendment in such a short period of time back then, whereas now it takes them months and months just to raise a superficial debt limit? As Ron Paul has claimed, are young people once again growing tired of "endless, undeclared, unwinnable wars?" If the activism of young people was enough to get the government to pass a constitutional amendment in 4 months, is that the key missing ingredient from today's political process? How important are politics nowadays to young people? Are young people generally hostile to politics or apathetic and just going through the motions? How do we make politics easier for young people to engage? What amendment would you like to see passed? As the Bible prophecy goes, would society be better off if the young people were leading us?

The long debate over lowering the voting age in America from 21 to 18 began during World War II and intensified during the Vietnam War, when young men denied the right to vote were being conscripted to fight for their country. In the 1970 case Oregon v. Mitchell, a divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress had the right to regulate the minimum age in federal elections, but not at the state and local level. Amid increasing support for a Constitutional amendment, Congress passed the 26th Amendment in March 1971; the states promptly ratified it, and President Richard M. Nixon signed it into law that July.

The 26th Amendment - "Old Enough to Fight, Old Enough to Vote"


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Aug 1, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=611

You need to be logged in to comment.
search only within braincrave

About braincrave


We all admire beauty, but the mind ultimately must be stimulated for maximum arousal. Longevity in relationships cannot occur without a meeting of the minds. And that is what Braincrave is: a dating venue where minds meet. Learn about the thoughts of your potential match on deeper topics... topics that spawn your own insights around what you think, the choices you make, and the actions you take.

We are a community of men and women who seek beauty and stimulation through our minds. We find ideas, education, and self-improvement sexy. We think intelligence is hot. But Braincrave is more than brains and I.Q. alone. We are curious. We have common sense. We value and offer wisdom. We experiment. We have great imaginations. We devour literacy. We are intellectually honest. We support and encourage each other to be better.

You might be lonely but you aren't alone.

Sep, 2017 update: Although Braincrave resulted in two confirmed marriages, the venture didn't meet financial targets. Rather than updating our outdated code base, we've removed all previous dating profiles and retained the articles that continue to generate interest. Moving to valME.io's platform supports dating profiles (which you are welcome to post) but won't allow typical date-matching functionality (e.g., location proximity, attribute similarity).

The Braincrave.com discussion group on Second Life was a twice-daily intellectual group discussions typically held at 12:00 PM SLT (PST) and 7:00 PM SLT. The discussions took place in Second Life group chat but are no longer formally scheduled or managed. The daily articles were used to encourage the discussions.

Latest Activity