if newsprint had clickbait, then this story in the LA Times on election day would be at the top of a ‘Ten dumb Democrat ideas’ list. A 16-year-old is as good as an 18-year-old — or a 40-year-old — at voting, is an Op-Ed piece by Larry Steinberg with a lazy argument that isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Yes, they are as good at the physical act of voting. Heck, I think 16 year-olds can tie their own shoes as well as I can, but it doesn’t mean they are qualified to make a decision on everyone’s future.
Larry seems to think that 16 year-olds ,” are perfectly capable of making informed and reasoned political decisions”, and are being , “denied the privilege of voting.” That statement tells me immediately that LArry does not know enough 16 year-olds and doesn’t remember being one himself. He seems to think we know a lot more about adolescents than we used to, no doubt from his own ‘research’, so, therefore, they should make decisions on who should make laws and enforce policy. His rationale?
“Over the last 40 years, there has been occasional discussion in the United States about lowering the voting age, an idea that has been gaining popularity around the world. In parts of Europe and much of South America the voting age is 16 or 17. The United Kingdom is debating allowing 16-year-olds to vote, and the discussion has picked up steam following Scotland’s recent referendum on independence, in which those 16 and older were permitted to vote — and did so in great numbers. Studies of elections in countries that permit 16-year-olds to vote on state and local matters find high turnout in this age group as well.”
I don’t know where he’s lived in America for the last 40 years, but it may have been an insane asylum. I can’t think of a single, rational person (or one who is capable of abstract thought) that has raised this idea over the last 40 years in America, so, I’m starting to think that all of Larry’s friends may be imaginary. At the very least, I must believe that Larry has no children who are of this age, nor spent any time with groups of them for any period of time.
16-year-olds are interested in a few things. Things like cars, sex, spending money, and sex. Not necessarily in that order. In very few instances are they able to determine what is best for them, their future, or best for society in general. I don’t care how hot or cold their cognition is, they simply have not had the life experience necessary to make adult decisions. Decisions like paying the phone bill, taking out a mortgage, buying a car they can afford to maintain, paying income taxes. Why don’t they think about these things? Because their parents are still doing their laundry, paying for the roof over their heads, saving for their college funds. Teenagers don’t worry about saving for retirement, life insurance, or filling out a schedule C. Why should they be allowed to make political decisions that affect those aspects of life? They shouldn’t, and there’s no good argument otherwise. Larry’s argument consists of a few non-salient points:
- Some people have thought about letting 16 year-olds to vote
-Some countries have let them
-The age of majority is a blurry line
-They usually have a good turnout
-Some bullshit about hot and cold cognition
My wife is an English teacher and I’ve been privileged to read some of her student’s work. I even taught high school for a time and can honestly say I’ve read better arguments from actual 16 year-olds. I’d still never allow them to vote in anything other than their own sphere of influence which is their own high school. Maybe, one in 50 is competent and lucid enough about his own existence to be granted the privilege of voting, but that’s a high estimate. I’m guessing psychology professors have not much else to do but sit around and think up absurd theories and rationales for them to justify their phony baloney jobs and compensate for not being real doctors. Unfortunately, to the detriment of thinking people, Larry has a bullhorn in the LA Times where he can broadcast crazy ideas to the world via the internets for free and act scholarly.
Just read his ‘scientific’, and contradictory description of the abilities of a 16 year-old mind while exercising “Cold-Cognition”:
Cold cognition is relevant to matters such as voting or granting informed consent for medical procedures, for example. Adolescents can gather evidence, consult with others and take time before making a decision. Adolescents may make bad choices, but statistically speaking, they won’t make them any more often than adults.
Informed consent on what a surgeon will do to your body in an immediate sense is a lifetime of difference than what a politician will do to your future safety, wealth , and freedom. A 16 year old has no real concept of the latter, only the former. And even regarding the former, he doesn’t know much. He doesn’t really understand his own mortality or the effects of medical treatment because he thinks he’s going to live forever. Next, Larry completely contradicts himself in the following paragraph:
A later age of majority is more sensible for matters that involve hot cognition, such as driving, drinking and criminal responsibility. Here the circumstances are usually those that bring out the worst in adolescents’ judgment — they frequently pit the temptation of immediate rewards against the prudent consideration of long-term costs, and occur when people are emotionally aroused, and are influenced by their peers. For these sorts of matters, the age of legal adulthood ought to be 18.
Temptation of immediate reward versus long term costs. Immediate reward is exactly what drives 16 year-olds, NOT long term costs . And that’s exactly what you need to overcome to be considered an adult and make voting decisions that affect other adults. Something tells me Larry has recently written a paper on the Cold-Hot thingy and wants to promote it in the local paper. But his lack of honesty and argument has done nothing to convince me that this is a real idea. If anything, Larry has convinced me the age of majority should be INCREASED to 21 years of age. No drinking, no involuntary conscription, and no voting until 21. Or, at least, no voting until you’re no longer claimed as a dependent on your parent’s tax return. Larry should take his research and go back to the asylum, where the inmates are obviously running the place. And that’s exactly what we’d have if all the 16-17 year-olds got to vote.by