Republican Presidential Hopeful Fred Karger Proposes Lowering the Voting Age

Bookmark and Share While exploring the possibility of running for President and becoming the first openly gay candidate to run for the presidential nomination of either major U.S. political Party, Fred Karger recently told students at the Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire that he believes it is time we lower the voting age in America to 16 or 17 years of age. According to Karger;

I feel that we should immediately begin discussion and planning to lower the legal voting age in the United States to either 16 or 17 years old.

Karger feels that American 16 and 17 year olds are more informed on the issues than any generation in history. He argues that by actively engaging high school students in the political process, they will be inclined to not only get involved, but to stay involved. Karger adds;

We should then encourage our schools and school districts to teach these young people about elections and the campaigns on the local, state and national level while they are happening.

In Kargers view, by allowing 16 and 17 year old Americans to vote, and by directly involving them in a process that they would also learn more about, they will be smarter and more informed voters than their parents and grandparents, and less likely to drop out of high school. He also points out that by making these high school age students first time voters, candidates running for office will seek these students out and for the first time appeal directly to them and their concerns.

In turn, Fred Karger believes that we will ultimately increase participation and turnout in elections for generations to come. Currently the United States ranks 36th in voter turnout, behind such countries as India, Israel, Costa Rica, Bulgaria, Venezuela and Australia.

In March of 1971, Congress proposed lowering the voting age to 18 through the 26th Amendment . Within four months time, it was ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures and passed quicker than any other amendment in in American history. Karger thinks we can do it again and says;

Lets begin the dialog and show our 16 and 17 year olds that we value them and their opinions. They can drive, pay taxes, enlist in the military at 17 and even vote in certain state primaries at 17 as long as they turn 18 by the general election.

But on the flipside of the issue, while franchising 16 and 17 year oldsmay improve our nations poor voter turnout numbers, would it actually generate a consistent voting habit in them when they are in the 18 to 24 year old bracket? That age group has the worst voter turnout numbers of all. Statistics show us that more reliably, regular voting habits come with age. The older the age group, the larger percentage of turnout they have. This could be because with age comes the responsibilities that are more effected by politics. A sixteen year old crying over the latest song sung by an American Idol contestant or dreaming about attending the latest Lady Gaga concert at the Coliseum, is less focused on their 401k or the latest speech given by German Chancellor Andrea Merkel at the recent G-20 Summit.

Such facts raise concerns that go beyond trying to get our high school students more involved in civics. There is the issue of peer pressure. How many of these formulating minds will be influenced by the group think mentality which could have them voting for the candidate who campaigns with Snoop Dog instead of Mitch Daniels? And would such determining factors be appropriate in influencing an election? And what of impressionable students who may be easily persuaded by their parents or even their teachers? As it is now, the education field is dominated by a left leaning political philosophy and do we really want our childrens vote to be influenced by educators who can even subtly steer kids to vote for the candidates of the teachers liking?

This is not to suggest that all these problematic influences do not already exist in the voting age population. College age voters are easily influenced by the teachings of the liberal elite who occupy the halls of our many fine institutions of higher education. And there do exist adults who still succumb to peer pressure. But all of this is diluted as one gains more life experience. That life experience gives each individual the ability to make political decisions based on something more than pop culture trends or the remarks of a favorite teacher. Most 16 year olds have not yet begun to open up a business and have not yet had the chance to file the endless tax documents involved. Most 17 year olds have not yet had to try to find a way to make this months mortgage payment. Faced with these experiences and having to deal with them, has a way of allowing one to establish their own political ideology and preferences in a way that is not effected by the opinion of someone else.

In the meantime, Fred Karger is getting the issue out there and as he put it, beginning the dialog and showing our 16 and 17 year olds that we value them and their opinions. The issue is a valid one and not unprecedented. In 2007 Austria became the first country in the European Union to give 16 year olds full voting rights. They merely adopted a practice that was already in place in Nicaragua, the Isle of Man, Brazil and Cuba, although I am not quite sure howmuch of a choice it isin Cuban elections which print ballots offering a choice between Raul Castro or Prison. But even Germany permits 16 year olds to vote in certain local elections.

So perhaps the issue is worth discussing, but for Fred Karger it is not really an issue to run on. The people who he is really appealing to here cant vote for him yet and won’t really be able to help him pull off a come from behind win in the Iowa Caucuses or New Hampshire Primary.

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