The day of our official launch of Declaration Project, I was honored to be on The Kathleen Dunn Show on Wisconsin Public Radio.
I noted during the hourlong program that my own MyDeclaration centered around including ‘childkind’ at long last as part of ‘all men are created equal.’ I was told that even after the interview ended, listeners continued to call in to the show to weigh in with their views on my provocative proposal to give our youth the right to vote.
One caller while the show was airing said that she wasn’t really buying into my suggestion that we should lower the voting age to the lowest documented age in which a young patriot enlisted in the American Revolution war effort. (Andrew Jackson enlisted at age 13.) She said kids these days had it easy. I pointed out that record numbers of kids today are homeless, and wondered whether this would be the case if they were a formidable voting bloc to be reckoned with.
Another said that 18 year olds are pretty listless voters compared to their older counterparts. I wonder whether this would be the case if they hadn’t been marginalized for so long, but rather had been equals in civic and political decision making all along. We sadly tend to view our youngest only as citizens in the making, when in fact we are both citizens in the making and citizens made, at every age and stage.
Would it really be so bad — would it in fact be a good thing — to lower suffrage to, say, age 13? Or how about age 12? I have posted in our Declaration Collection an amazing declaration issued by a person who, starting at age 12, had a call to civic consciousness and duty, and collected tens and thousands of signatures for his Unanimous Declaration of Youth of the United States of American of Independence from Fossil Fuels as one key way to combat global warming. Quite often, I believe history shows that widespread movements — from environmentalism efforts to peace activism — are started by our youngest citizens.
If so, why not make them an equal part of ‘we the people’?