If you don’t understand why letting 16- and 17-year-olds vote is a terrible idea, I suggest you ask a qualified expert to remind you how badly things have gone in the past whenever America gave some previously disenfranchised group of citizens a seat at the table.
Just ask any man what happened when women secured the right to vote.
Or ask any plantation owner how his life went South when a bunch of smug Yankee lawmakers decided that African-Americans should have access to the ballot box.
Or, if you really want to get to the root of this nonsense, ask Queen Elizabeth II to recall the trauma her country endured when King George III’s American subjects started tweeting nonsense like “No taxation without representation!” (The British monarchy still hasn’t recovered from that fiasco.)
If they could turn back the hands of time, I bet you that none of these experts would make the mistake of inviting newcomers to crash their elections again.
But here comes Michigan state Sen. David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights, a troublemaker in the disruptive tradition of Thomas Jefferson, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, to propose that voting eligibility in Michigan be extended yet again, this time to include all U.S. citizens over the age of 16.
What can he be thinking?
Knezek says his bill would allow Michigan teens who work, drive, pay taxes and carry firearms to participate meaningfully in the electoral process. Critics say his measure would simply enfranchise a group of young activists who are partial to Knezek’s party, weakening the Republicans’ hold on the state’s congressional delegation and Legislature.
And because Republicans control the committees with jurisdiction over Knezek’s Senate Bill 1064 and its twin, House Bill 6183, sponsored by Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, and Rep. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor, there’s little chance either measure will get so much as a hearing in either chamber.
Because why would the mature, politically savvy American voters who elected Donald Trump (as well as the current U.S. Congress and Michigan Legislature) want to compound the bad judgment of Jefferson, Lincoln et al by extending the vote to yet another group of wholly unprepared citizens?
Even if the enfranchisement of renters, women and African-Americans hadn’t been so disastrous for our country’s governance, after all, the argument against allowing 16-year-olds to vote would be a no-brainer.
This is the same demographic cohort that gave us Post Malone, Snapchat filters and “The Twilight Saga.” Most of its denizens don’t read newspapers or even watch cable news. How can we possibly trust them to responsibly handle a weapon as potent as the right to vote?
And the only thing more dangerous than teenagers who don’t pay attention to the news are teenagers who do.
I’m talking about provocateurs like the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — kids who’ve been watching with their eyes wide open while lawmakers elected by their parents and grandparents disinvested in public education, fanned the flames of climate change, and facilitated the proliferation of assault weapons, all while mortgaging the country’s future to give coal plant operators and opioid manufacturers bigger tax cuts.
You really want that revenge-hungry horde of woke adolescents kibitzing in the next election? These kids won’t be satisfied just taking away our guns; they’re a threat to our whole selfish, short-sighted, planet-cannibalizing lifestyle.
So wake up, before Knezek and his Democratic colleagues gain enough leverage to bring their dangerous scheme for a more representative government to a vote.
Because as crazy as it seems, there are people in the political and media elite who believe that enlisting young Americans to protect their country’s long-term interests at the polls would be good for the country.
One careless step onto that slippery slope and the next thing you know, schools will be teaching third graders to read.
Brian Dickerson is a columnist for the Detroit Free Press. His column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the The Lima News editorial board or AIM Media, owner of The Lima News.