Via Twitter

The case against lowering the voting age

In almost every opinion poll conducted since the dawn of time, young voters are more likely to vote for parties of the political left than any other group. If you want to know, then, why “lowering the voting age” is one of those perennial August stories that comes up year after year to approving noises from political parties and lobby groups on the political left, then there’s your answer. We need not speculate on what attitudes to lowering the voting age would be if an opinion poll were published tomorrow showing that 60% of Irish seventeen year olds would vote for leaving the European Union, or had strongly negative attitudes towards immigration, or so-called “climate action” – it would mysteriously disappear from the agenda.

But no such poll exists, or is likely to exist, and thus:

Scrapping byelections, lowering the voting age and limiting the use of election posters are among a series of issues the new Electoral Commission has been asked to research.

The requests were set out in a letter from Minister for Housing and Local Government Darragh O’Brien to the commission’s chairwoman, Ms Justice Marie Baker, on July 19th.

It is not particularly difficult to understand why younger voters vote left wing, and why, as such, left wing parties are so eager for there to be more, and younger, voters. Most lives go through a dependence-productivity-dependence cycle: You start life producing nothing and receiving support. Then you become an adult, and try to build a life for yourself. And in the end, you become dependent again.

Young voters have always been more dependent on the state than other groups: They pay less taxes, and they consume more resources. They benefit from free education. They rent more than they own. They tend to have lower pay and benefit as such proportionately more from “free stuff” paid for by the rest of us in taxes. And they are also, due to their age, more idealistic and more likely to believe that their generation can do what none of the rest of us could and change the world, man.

Years ago, somebody relatively foolish decided that in terms of participation in a democracy, failure to productively contribute to that democracy should be no barrier to taking part in the decision making process: The vote was progressively extended from property owning males over 30, to property owning males over 25, to all males over 21, and then in the end – after letting women vote as well – to all adults over 18. And if you trace that history, the obvious pattern is that more people who could vote, the bigger the state became. This is not surprising.

The problem with it is straightforward: While the number of people who can vote has expanded, the proportion of the population that is relatively productive has mostly remained static. It has grown mainly as a result of the greater participation of women in the workforce, but the basic age profile remains the same. If anything, due to increased education, the productivity window has narrowed: People work for less of their lives now because they start much later.

In rough terms, the more dependent voters you have, the more the state will become geared towards the needs of dependents, and the less it will become geared towards the needs of the productive. This is not a moral judgment – we were all dependents once. It is simply an acknowledgment of reality: The bigger and wider the electorate becomes, the more rigged it becomes against that relatively small portion of the population who pay the taxes to support everyone else.

Lowering the voting age to sixteen would be to rig it further – that, as said above, is the reason this is so popular with people on the left who already want to expand the state.

By contrast, voters who already pay for everything are not really cognisant of the threat. As things stand already in Ireland, there are barely any politicians brave enough to position themselves firstly and foremostly as allies of the hard-working taxpayer. And there are plenty of them willing to decry the taxpayer as the greedy root of everyone else’s problems – witness, for example, what has happened to private landlords.

If you happen to be in your thirties or forties and paying tax and trying to save for a mortgage, or struggling to afford your own children, this proposal to lower the voting age is a direct threat to your interests. It proposes to do little more than this: Empower other people’s children to demand support from your pocket.

The age of adulthood in Ireland is eighteen. Up until that point, children are, and should remain, their parent’s problem. Giving them the power to demand with their votes money from the exchequer is a bad idea, and the rest of us will end up paying for it.

That’s the selfish, and correct, argument for opposing this utter, and perennial, nonsense.

Share mdi-share-variant mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-printer mdi-chevron-left Prev Next mdi-chevron-right Related
Comments are closed

Do you agree with the Government's plan to reduce speed limits?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...