SI jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait. This is quoted from Henri Estienne, who in mediaeval France was a publisher of the Greek and Roman philosophers. The accepted translation is ‘If only young people knew anything; if only old people could do anything’. I thought of it as I read the Guardian’s latest polemic on the benefit of lowering the voting age. Nine delightful 6-to-12-year-olds were interviewed about why they should be allowed to vote. Bless! – all very thoughtful and articulate, though I fear not very educationally or socially representative.
Their aspirations had much in common with typical Green Party notions – feeding and housing and employing all the homeless; open borders; fairness; climate change (over and over and over); plus a lot of silly witter – old people will be dead but we will have to live through their policies; because we have opinions we should have a voice; and 12-year-old Macaulay the humdinger – anti-Brexit, pro-sex ed, anti-homophobia, private schools a problem, sort out homelessness, open the borders, because we were all immigrants once. (Is this child actually Owen Jones in disguise?) And finally wee Wilfie, six, who thinks everybody should have an electric car. Everybody? Has he ever studied the environmental impact of huge lithium batteries?
All this attitude is promoted relentlessly by the national curriculum and its useful idiots, the primary schools teaching staff, who all appear to be Left-wing (if not, just keep your head down) and Remainer. Brainwashing as soon as they’re out of nappies. And it seems to work. But it does raise the issue: who should be eligible to vote? For a century at least this has been a human rights issue, and a feminist one. But I thought we’d sorted that out now. One person (over the age of 18) – one vote. Where’s the problem? And if there is one, what should be the new legitimised criteria?
The Guardian tots dredge up all sorts of judgmental ideas. Should we be allocating the franchise according to stuff like this: age, intelligence, education, ethnicity, residence, citizenship, wealth, tax liability, gender, political affiliation, sanity, criminal record, employment, and so on? Taking any of these criteria into consideration over and above your status on the electoral roll could seriously interfere with one person/one vote and our parliamentary democracy. And imagine the Guardian comments – racist/ageist/homophobic/transphobic/elitist/wealthist/just not fair . . .
In the UK, the vote is a right, not a legal obligation as it is in other European countries. Voting is not alone in being age-restricted. What about driving a car, taking out a mortgage, adopting a child, buying tobacco and alcohol, getting a shotgun licence, the age of consent and access to abortion (although these are already being age-challenged by the Left)? Society accepts these deadlines in the interests of common sense and social order. Why should the vote – a huge responsibility – be any different? It should certainly not be allowed to be hijacked by Left-wing activists, who can show that the younger you are, the more likely you are to be a bit of a Maoist: share all, houses for all, jobs for all (though they tend to omit the nomenklatura bit). All this Left-wing indoctrination (get it wrong and it could influence your GCSE grade) measures up to sheer political gerrymandering.
The old-fashioned mantra was ‘no taxation without representation’. This has been turned on its head, since more of the UK population take out than pay in. Should it now be a case of ‘no representation without taxation’? It would seem that democracy is hitting the buffers.
Other more honed minds have been considering the question of the right to vote. This is Tom Nichols in his interesting thesis The Death of Expertise quoting Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds:
‘To be a voter, one must be able to participate in adult political discussions. It’s necessary to be able to listen to opposing arguments and even . . . to change your mind in response to new evidence.
‘So maybe we should raise the voting age to 25, an age at which, one fervently hopes, some degree of maturity will have set in. It’s bad enough to have to treat college students like children. But it’s intolerable to be governed by spoiled children. People who can’t discuss Halloween costumes rationally don’t deserve to play a role in governing a great nation.’
Children and teenagers throughout Europe are being afforded a voice they do not yet deserve. And the reason I say that is because they just don’t have the experience, a situation massively exacerbated by the naivety of much of their state-sponsored education. Mrs Proudie on the Archbishop Cranmer website has said it all:
I found Signora Neroni is some agitation when I called on Friday morning. She had just read the horrifying report of the murder of two Scandinavian girls in Morocco at the hands of a gang of bestial savages.
‘Why do these young women go to such dangerous, misogynistic countries in the first place? Do they think they are invulnerable?’ said the Signora, dabbing her eyes with a cambric square.
‘Ah, the young,’ I replied. ‘They see the world quite differently, you know. Schools teach that all cultures are equal, that kindness and decency conquers all, that silk purses can be made out of sows’ ears, that boys can be girls if they wish and vice-versa, and that all shall have prizes.’
‘How does that prepare them for the real world out there?’ asked the Signora.
‘It doesn’t, but it makes them feel good about themselves,’ I said, matter-of-factly.
‘But these girls were raped and beheaded,’ said the Signora, in some degree of anguish.
‘So I understand, and it is truly terrible. But the same fluffy unicorn mentality runs like a septic sewer through most of Western Europe, poisoning minds and denying reality. Governments, whose prime duty is to protect their citizens and promote their well-being, have thrown reason out of the window, opened up their borders and welcomed the seventh century into the present. The peoples of Europe didn’t ask for this, they didn’t vote for this, but the powers-that-be have engineered it nevertheless.’
‘Where will it all end?’ wailed the Signora.
‘Read your Bible, dear, read your Bible.’
I could never see anything wrong with the age of voting/consent/whatever being set at 21. The key of the door. And your duty to be responsible – for yourself and society.