Vice, that paragon of all things moronically millennial, recently published a piece arguing that since older people will have to live less than younger people with the consequences of their voting decisions, their votes should count for less. This is not only anti-democratic, but it is ageist, arrogant, and privileges the youth over the youth-less.
First off, it’s true that the elderly constitute a special interest group with their own concerns (healthcare, etc.) and tend to vote in a certain way to benefit themselves. But this is nothing unique: younger people also vote their interests (education costs etc.). Self-interest is normal in a democracy and is not the basis for disqualification. Further, let us not be hasty and assume that every vote is driven by self-interest in a purely monetary fashion. There are some things more important than cash, and the Brexit vote is a good example of that. The UK will take some sort of a hit financially in the short run, but apparently the majority of voters thought this a reasonable price to pay for wrenching their national sovereignty out of the hands of Brussels and improving their border security.
Second, young people have short memories and this limits their wisdom. You need no further proof of this than the crazed Bernie crowds who fervently believe that the rich are hoarding up money and preventing them from getting a good, free education. As George Bailey puts it to folks putting a run on the bank in It’s A Wonderful Life: “You’re thinking of this place all wrong…The money isn’t here. Your money is in Joe’s house. That’s right next to yours… you’re lending them the money to build and they’re going to pay it back as best they can. What are you going to do, foreclose on them?” Similarly, the rich aren’t bathing in gold dust. Their cash is tied up in investments all across the country that provide the capital for work and production. But the Bernie crowd is ignorant of this and this is partially due to millennials having no living memory of the horrors of state run economies of the USSR and China. Oddly enough, they seem to have no awareness of the present either as they are oblivious to the macabre disasters that are Cuba, North Korea, and Venezuela. Like the flies of summer, they barely have enough time to understand the present let alone the past from which wisdom grows.
But ignore all that, we should lower the voting age! The Vice article highlights the following tweet: “If 16 and 17 year olds – the group of people #Brexit will affect most – had been allowed to vote, the result would have been very different.” What about even younger potential voters? Why arbitrarily cut it off at 16-17? But that also misses the obvious point: kids are dumb. They haven’t been around long enough to know what’s in their longterm interest. They think they have their whole life ahead of them. On top of that they want happiness NOW. Little hormonal sacks of raging id, the youth vote is an engine for demagoguery. Once again, flies of summer. As it turns out, the majority couldn’t even bother themselves with voting. Back to Bernie: socialism, that pipe-dream of yesteryear that ignores the basics of economics and budgets, is popular again despite the apparent wisdom of the youth.
Third and finally, if older voters distort the democratic process by giving them disproportional control over the future relative to the time they will get to benefit/suffer the consequences of the vote, how much more so is this true in purely economic terms? After all, they consume a great deal of taxpayer resources (social security, healthcare) and are generally annoying (smell, slowness, boring stories, ugly visage). Granted, they do have money to spend and this stimulates the economy, but better yet: once they reach the age of retirement, cut them off from all assistance, tax whatever surpluses they have, and let them live only so far as they have resources to spend. But let’s take it a step further. Why not go all Logan’s Run on them. Once you reach a certain age, it’s time to be euthanized and your remaining resources confiscated by the state and used to improve the lives of those not over the hump. What a grand but peaceful solution to the elderly vote. All we have to figure out is this: at what age are elderly millennials destined for the ovens?
Millennial ageism is doubly discriminating, though, as it excludes the greatest of all majorities: the dead. After all, why should the dead be discriminated against simply because they happen to be, well you know, dead? A millennial head-scratcher of a quote from G. K. Chesterton:
Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father.
-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy,
Knowledge and wisdom depends on memory. Memory, if it’s worth anything, is older than a single life. Old can be foolish; old can be selfish; but at the least let us have equality and let the generations be foolish together. But this isn’t about mere equality. The old actually do offer something the young don’t have: experience. They have lived through the ebb and flow of politics, society, and economics. They know better than the young that things change, but they also know that change is not without its unforeseen consequences. The old weathered past conflicts in their youth based in part because of miscalculations of the even older. The youth of today, as of the youth of past centuries, will be just fine dealing with the future. They will handle those challenges even better, though, if they get some tips from good ole’ grandfather and if they read a book and get some dead (wo)man thoughts.