Imagine if teenagers could help decide the future of your taxes, your business or even relationships with foreign nations. While you might trust a 16-year-old’s fashion judgment, would you trust him or her to make important life-changing decisions, such as how to run the country?
A recent topic of discussion among many politicians has been the “issue” of lowering the voting age to 16. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated, “I, myself have always been for lowering the voting age to 16. I think it’s really important to capture kids when they’re in high school, when they’re interested in all of this, when they’re learning about government, to be able to vote.”
Many diverse speakers discussed this idea, some have remained rational and reserved about lowering the voting age, while others continue to entertain this concept as a fantasy. Supporters claim that 16-year-old students desire a voice in our government, and it is their right. The issue was even brought to the US Congress by Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who declared it is a fundamental right of a 16-year-old to vote. But I have one simple question, where are the teenagers in the debate?
On August 26, 1920, the 19th amendment to the constitution was passed. The bill allowed women more power, primarily the right to vote. Preceding the bill, there were civil protests, speeches and riots. The women’s passion and persistence drove the bill until Woodrow Wilson endorsed the movement pushing the bill into congress.
If lowering the voting age is equivalent to other issues, including: poverty, economy and social inequality, where are the teens’ voices? Where are the protests, riots, petitions and the movement backing this idea?
Some teens, myself included, would love to vote someday in the future, and there is no shame in waiting until 18 when our brains are finished developing. We do not need to vote nor do we want to vote now, and we have no problem admitting that we don’t possess knowledge in certain areas due to a short lifetime and lack of experience. Many of us don’t know the pledge of allegiance much less who should run the country.
The main argument made by Nancy Pelosi and others is that kids should have a voice because they are interested in politics; interest is not a valid argument. Should teens be allowed ownership of a gun if they are interested? Interest does not qualify one as an expert on the subject; rather, experience is the deciding factor.
Along with a lack of qualification among teens, the vast majority of them I know are uninterested in politics or possess minor knowledge about it. Although we are moving forward as a republic, voices in the government should be provided to those who directly participate in government. The voting age was previously lowered from its original age of 21 to 18 as a result of anger from 18-year-old boys being drafted into the army during World War II. The argument stood, if the boys were old enough to defend their country then they were eligible to vote to have say in the country their defending.
As minors we are given many benefits and rights. For example, we get a fair trial, receive a free education and additional advantages more so than other minors receive in other countries. However, voting is a heavy responsibility, impacting more than just oneself.
As a soon-to be-16-year-old, I have no shame in admitting that 16-year-olds do not know enough nor should be entitled to a say in government. We may be interested, but we are certainly not qualified! After all, how could you trust us if we don’t trust ourselves?
Miriam Garrel is a rising sophomore at Machon Sarah Torah Academy for Girls in Far Rockaway, N.Y.
Please note that the opinions in this piece are presented solely by the author, and neither Fresh Ink for Teens nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.