Where does #MarchForOurLives go next?

As we all sit here after the March for Our Lives, everyone should think more broadly about what I’ll broadly term “kid power.”

Sure, if Hillary Clinton would have won the presidency, billionaire Michael Bloomberg and other wealthy Democrats wouldn’t have funded the march, but it wouldn’t have changed the fact that gun violence is an issue for kids all around the country. Period.

But let’s face it, the adults are exploiting the kids. Kid empowerment is kind of on a far, far back burner. The Democrats have screwed up badly over a long period of time and all they have to bank on is hatred of President Trump, and youth organizing in the streets and online to get them back in the electoral driver’s seat again.

But when was the last time you heard of a U.S. politician come out to push for 16-year-olds to vote? Well, around 50 years ago, Hillary Rodham, before she changed her name to Clinton, supported it. But not a peep (or Tweet) about it since.

Young guy plays video games as his mom votes at Central Middle School on August 9, 2014

Waiting for mom to vote at Central Middle School. This keiki is a bit young, but the author thinks 16-year-olds should be eligible to vote.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Perhaps her thinking on the issue devolved, instead of evolved. Thank Allah that Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison is out and proud about his support for lowering the voting age to 16, because he’s the only one at the federal level who is.

His support was just a single Tweet. The closest you’ll get to more than a Tweet — like hearing birds singing (metaphorically speaking), would be all the way over in England.

British Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is pushing for it. The issue was actually recently taken up by Parliament, but it was defeated by the Tories. However, when Labour wins in the next election it will be a done deal, and the voting age will be lowered to 16.

Here in the U.S. there would need to be a constitutional amendment to allow the voting age to be lowered to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote for federal elected officials. The previous amendment to lower the voting age from 21 down to 18 became the law of the land in record time. In just over two months — the shortest period of time for any amendment in U.S. history — the necessary three-fourths of state legislatures ratified the 26th Amendment.

What The Country Needs

And you know what else, it was signed into law by President Richard Milhous Nixon — someone the radical extremist Republican Party, and maybe the TV character Roseanne, would now consider a “radical pinko commie bastard.”

President Nixon said, “The reason I believe that your generation, the 11 million new voters, will do so much for America at home is that you will infuse into this nation some idealism, some courage, some stamina, some high moral purpose, that this country always needs.”

Guess what? The country really needs it now, for sure.

The reasoning back then was that if you were old enough to get drafted to go to war in Vietnam, then you were old enough to vote. Let’s think about that for a second.

How is it that children can possess rifles or shotguns yet are not old enough to vote?

So, using that rational, since the military is sending medics to train in Chicago hospitals — because it’s the closest thing they can get to training for a war zone (while in the U.S.) — shouldn’t the combatants and their potential victims have the right to vote? The veterans of war are no longer just those veterans with U.S. military service.

As for Republican lawmakers, how is it that children can possess rifles or shotguns at the age of 16 or younger in 33 states, but 16- and 17-year-olds are not old enough to vote?

Besides gun issues, when so many issues are obviously lacking both youth input and youth political power in this country, it seems clear that the voting age should be lowered. Issues such as increasing the minimum wage, running up the deficit, the rising cost of college, police shooting of unarmed black kids, sexual harassment in schools and many, many other issues are less validly resolved without minors having the vote.

This is where #MarchForOurLives meets #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo and others. Perhaps it’s time for #Vote16USA to rise and tell lawmakers to lower the voting age — now!

Thoughts on this or any other story? Write a Letter to the Editor. Send to news@civilbeat.org and put Letter in the subject line. 200 words max. You need to use your name and city and include a contact phone for verification purposes. And you can still comment on stories on our Facebook page.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Columns generally run about 800 words (yes, they can be shorter or longer) and we need a photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to news@civilbeat.org.

About the Author