I have long maintained that lowering the voting age to 16 would be one of the most absurd and unjustified government policies dreamt up by silly liberal lefties. This week socialist firebrand Owen Jones inadvertently provided evidence to back this up by tying himself up in ideological knots of hypocrisy.
Guido Fawkes took it upon himself to wind poor Owen up, as is his wont, in an attempt (I suspect) to lure Owen into a trap to prove a point. He had dug up an old quote from Owen expressing support for the IRA and then accused him of being an IRA sympathiser. This, quite understandably, upset the bane of the establishment.
Owen got rather upset and said “this is contemptible”, and to be fair to him it was rather mean (though quite amusing). He excused his support for the murderous terrorist organisation, insisting: ‘I oppose all IRA violence, whatever stupidity I said when I was 15’.
This was Owen’s entire defence; he should not be held accountable for his adolescent opinions because he was ‘a child’ and was therefore immature and liable to hold foolish and morally questionable opinions based on ignorance.
@GuidoFawkes I was *15 years old*. I was completely wrong about that and many other things. I was a child. This is contemptible.
— Owen Jones (@OwenJones84) July 29, 2015
Here’s the thing, I agree with him. I agree with him one hundred percent. Of course we cannot hold Owen, now 30 years old, accountable for a foolish opinion he expressed when he was a child. It was a morally repugnant position to hold, but he was ignorant, impressionable and therefore susceptible to ideology and bad influences. Being a child, he had poor judgement, lacked the wisdom and knowledge necessary to properly understand the subject or understand why his opinion was wrong and immoral.
Unfortunately, Owen supports lowering the voting age to 16. So, he thinks 15 year olds are children, and as such should be excused for having bad judgement and questionable opinions, but as soon as they reach their 16th birthday they should be given the right to participate in the extremely important choice of selecting an MP and nominating a government.
Does he seriously believe that the 16th birthday brings on an epiphany of maturity? Does the immature 15 year old “child” – ill equipped to make proper judgements, or be held accountable for their opinions – suddenly become an adult mature enough to make decisions about government policy? If he cannot now see the utter absurdity, the downright stupidity, of his position then I have lost some of the (small amount of) respect I have for him.
16 year olds are also still children and they quite simply do not have the maturity, life experience, knowledge or skills of good judgement to be involved in electing a government. Children are, by their very nature, unwise. To put it rather more crudely, 16 year olds (generally) don’t know their arse from their elbow and they have no business in the voting booth.
This is just another idiotic preoccupation of the liberal left who think enfranchisement for the sake of enfranchisement is automatically a good thing. Just because enfranchising the ordinary citizen, and women, was the right thing to do doesn’t mean giving the vote to children is a good thing to do. After all, why not just take this moronic idea to its logical conclusion?
If 16 years olds are mature enough to elect a government, they should be sentenced as adults for their crimes, I’m sure lefties would be well up for that. If they are grown up enough to vote then let them serve as jurors, heck, let them serve as judges and magistrates, actually, sod it, if they can elect MPs why can’t they become MPs? Yes, let them run the country in a kind of mad, real life Lord of the Flies; that’d go swimmingly, wouldn’t it? I mean, they are responsible adults after all.
For the record, I’d like to advocate that all supporters of votes for 16 years olds should have an all 16 year old jury if ever they or a family member is accused of a crime, and the trial must be overseen by a 16 year old judge.
If it is deemed unfair for 16 year olds to be excluded from the democratic process, then why draw such an arbitrary line there? There are many 14-15 year olds that are especially mature and intelligent, let them in the booth! Why stop there? Let’s make 12 year olds part of our democracy, after we’ve extended the vote to children at one end of the age group, how can we argument against it? Votes for toddlers I say!
Okay, there are large spatterings of facetiousness here; but I am making a pretty clear point. I have nothing but contempt for the very notion of votes for 16 year olds. I don’t think it is a respectable position to take, its downright laughable. All of the arguments for it are flimsy and easily countered, and most of the politicians who hold this position do so out of pure opportunism and cynicism.
“They can join the army, why not let them vote?” 16 year olds in the armed forces need parental permission to join and they do no fighting, many campaigners argue for the enlistment age to be changed to 18 – a perfectly respectable position- but I’ve no doubt you’ll find many “votes for 16 year olds” idiots amongst them, contradicting themselves fundamentally.
They pay taxes, let them vote! A nine year old could potentially pay VAT if they purchase certain items at the counter with their pocket money, should we allow them a say over the rate? As 16-17 year olds are now no longer able to work full time, they do not pay full income tax or have the responsibility of a full time paying job. The minimum school leaving age is being raised to 18, so there are actually many people out there arguing for people who have not even finished education to be given the vote. They argue for this in all seriousness, votes for school children.
The scientific evidence is also stacked against the votes for children brigade. It has been established that our brains are still underdeveloped in our teen years, which explains a lot about their tendencies for reckless and irresponsible behaviour, risk taking and lack of judgement. The brain’s pre-fontal cortex helps us manage our emotions, consider moral dilemmas and think abstractly, and this is not fully developed in teenagers.
In-fact, neuroscientists and child psychologists now maintain that the pre-frontal cortex is not full developed until around age 25. So our adolescence essentially stretches to our mid-20’s, though no one argues for the voting age to rise. Votes for 18 years olds is a reasonable line to draw, as they are considered adults legally and are able to take full responsibilities for their lives and fully contribute to society.
The most nauseating advocates of this madness are Labour and SNP politicians who talk insincere guff about “extending our democracy”, reinvigorating politics, giving 16 year old a “stake in society” and other such pathetic and transparent nonsense. This is cynical politics of the most irresponsible kind; they support votes for children because they believe it will expand their vote share. As young people are idealistic they are more likely to be left wing, so their thinking goes, and therefore more likely to vote for them. Not only is this exasperatingly unprincipled and opportunistic, it is downright presumptuous and patronising.
Giving sixteen year olds the vote would make a complete mockery of our democratic system and once implemented it would be irreversible. There is not a single decent argument in favour and it is time the campaign for it was stopped in its tracks and pushed back, it simply is not credible.
* With thanks for Owen Jones for proving this point. Oh, by the way, it turned out he was 16 when he made the comments. “I was a child”… yes Owen, you were, I forgive you, let’s just be grateful you didn’t have the vote.