Today, we’re looking at the Twenty-sixth Amendment as we work our way through the Constitution and its amendments.
This post is part of a series that will make more sense if it is read in order. If you haven’t read the earlier posts in this series, please click here to start with the first one. One reason I’ve broken this series into fairly small parts is that we have a tendency to rush through reading the Constitution and miss a lot of it. I hope the readers of this series will ponder the points in each session. I also hope you will comment on each post as we go along.
Throughout this series on the Constitution, my comments will be in black normal font, and the text of the document will be in this color and italicized.
SECTION 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
SECTION 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
This amendment was conceived, passed by Congress, and ratified during the Vietnam War. A bandwagon effect was created by the argument that 18 year-olds were being drafted and forced to serve in a war zone and they should have the right to have a say in our government, which was a complete non sequitur.
To serve as a soldier in the military does not require a lot of independent thinking or wisdom. It requires following orders. To cast an intelligent vote requires both wisdom and independent thinking, tempered by a level of maturity few 18 year-olds have.
As with several other 20th century amendments, this was passed at a time when the Democrat Party pretty much had a stranglehold on government. They controlled the House and the Senate and a majority of state governments, which gave them the power to ram this amendment through. They were upset by the fact that Richard Nixon had been elected President, and they figured they could sway the votes of a bunch of impressionable teenagers, so they rushed this amendment to passage before anyone really thought it through.
What do you think about entrusting the future of our nation and its government to a bunch of teenagers who are barely out of high school and have no life experience to guide them in their decisions?
Benjamin Franklin, exiting Constitutional Convention:
“We’ve given you a republic, if you can keep it.”
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Well, I think there are a lot of people who shouldn’t be allowed to vote, but that’s just me. I’ve always argued that an 18-year-old can do anything but buy alcohol, which seems screwed up to me, but hey, what do I know.
I think drinking, smoking, voting and being drafted should all wait a few more years. Going to war is a big responsibility and a lot of emotional stress to place upon a teenager. Even allowing a 16-year-old to drive is risky, in my opinion. Perhaps that’s just me turning into an old lady. I remember as a youngster, waiting until I was 16 to drive seemed like an eternity.
w/a Jansen Schmidt
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Of course, there is no draft these days. As for smoking, drinking, and voting, I’d be fine with waiting until 21 – or even 25. I was probably as mature as most when I was in college, but I didn’t handle drinking very maturely, and I just think very few people that age have any real understanding of how our government works or the impact of their votes.
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David, this is interesting. Educational point… why and when that came into life.
Hmmm… That’s an interesting thought…at 18 you’re too immature and don’t have independent thinking to vote… thus we are going to force you into war, order you to kill, and be killed, but you have no rights or control to vote your choice of that war? Then… after graduation, you are working full time and paying taxes, but you can’t vote on that tax structure? I would be careful on this, as there may be a time when they say you are too old to vote. The truth is, if any government has control over our life, liberty and health, we as adults who use the services, pay for the services, and defend our country…should have the ability to vote. It’s not a judgement on maturity. The point is, I was flying airplanes, in college, and working full time at 18… should they have prohibited me from voting, but allowed the guy drinking his smooch, shooting squirrels and what not the right because of age?
I hear what you are saying about age and “maturity”… that grows with time, but sadly some never mature. But language of wisdom and independent thinking, might be changed on this discussion. The truth is, wisdom and maturity is not a number. And if went along with this line of thinking and judging maturity levels… you have to admit, that most men would not be allowed to vote until they were 35… maybe 40. And then we should prohibit everyone from voting who doesn’t have a college education… because they don’t have a lot of independent thinking or wisdom, oh… and those who sit around and watch television all day, let’s take their rights too, because they are brainwashed by the tube telling them what to think. They don’t think independently. What about the married women? Might as well take their vote, too, because the men of the house control that environment, and the is not a lot of independent thinking there either.
And interesting thought about our military. Perhaps we would be stronger if all organizations required independent thinking and wisdom. But then…. times have change. Even in the military troops are allowed to speak out. They’ve adapted SMS systems. Do you know a safety culture gives a voice to those in the field, who are the eyes of safety, to come forward independent of age?
Honestly, I would give my eight year-old grand daughter more of a voice than a director at a major airline I know, because she has ethics, morals and understands the essence of right and wrong…whereas many of our adults don’t. So where does it end?
But then again, someone had to create a number, with a rational. And if you really think about this, the votes those teenagers are placing today will impact them longer and more critically than us old people, who won’t be around to see the ramifications. And if you make judgement that these 18-year-olds can’t and shouldn’t vote, then God forbid, they will say as “children” and we have to keep them in the house, take care of them, and make their choices and… be liable when they do something wrong… for how much longer? What number are you professing? 20? 21? 35? And will they gain independent thinking under parent rules and roof? And then, we will allow all these 18-year-olds to have guns, but they will not be considered adults when they kill someone. So that too will be our fault.
I’m personally thinking that 18 is just fine for them to be considered adults. And as an adult, you have the right to vote. Perhaps we should focus on educating them, instead of taking their rights.
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Everybody talks about voting as a right – which it is – but not enough people talk about the responsibility of it. I appreciate your comment, Karlene, but I still don’t believe many 18 year-olds have the knowledge and judgment and maturity to cast intelligent votes. Of course, a lot of older people don’t either, but the youth tend to be more swayed by popular movements, as opposed to rational thinking, than older people.
David, I agree on some cases. But I could give you twenty outstanding 18 year-olds who have better thought processes, than their adult counterparts. What age do you think is a good age?
Well, I can more readily understand the maturity of a 21 year old than that of an eighteen year old. Of course, there are exceptions. And some people never mature!
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