Curtain Raiser

The Deal & Youth Vote We Need, Colltalers

Sometimes it’s not just people’s omission what helps incompetent leaders; luck and chance play a part too. North Korean Kim Jong-un’s stunning offer to sit with the American president, last week’s biggest news, made the world understandably thrilled about it. And weary.
Donald Trump had little to do with it but, as the Russian probe heats up, he’ll be sure to take credit and capitalize on it. But even as we can’t seem to write three sentences without mentioning him, today’s post is about something way more transcendent: youth voting in America.
Let’s get the likely theme of the coming weeks out of the way first, though. Thanks to South Korean president Moon Jae-in, there’s a concrete chance both madmen will meet in May, and for goodness sake, move the nuclear holocaust dial down a bit. Or up. It’s truly unpredictable.
But given rising global tensions, and the nonchalantly way those two have been talking about annihilating each other, never mind millions of people, with a civilization-ending chain reaction soon to follow after, this surely looks like good news. That is, if you-know-who doesn’t walk back on his words, as it happened countless times. Other restrictions apply. Avoid holding your breath. Proceed with caution. Call your mom.
No U.S. president has ever accepted that sort of meeting, for it requires a master class in strategy, and a minimum of trust between players. Considering ‘Art of Deal’ Trump’s appalling record at listening to counseling, or negotiating with nations, corporations, and even factions of his own government, there are justifiable fears that the whole thing may go awry. And rush the entire world to a no-way-back quagmire.
But, hey, let’s be optimistic, and keep an open mind about it. Because it’s so crazy that it might work. To get it right, though, it’ll take a lot of pressure from peaceful and progressive segments of society, plus a hefty dose of global support. Above all, let’s not let it all up to those two.
Which brings us to youth voting, and what can be done to usher it to its deserving place in American politics. Time is ripe to rearrange the equation of power among the electorate, and voting by the young is an overlooked demographics often relegated to polls’ absence columns.
It’s likely that it will remain there for November

elections, along with the increasing odds for them to operate real change in the current state of electoral representation in this country. What with unbound money in the campaign, gerrymandering, artificial hurdles placed for voters, and, yes, the Russians, plus the Democrats, the Republicans, the Kochs, do we have to go on? Odds are really stacked against our democracy.
But two new factors grant reasons for some upbeat forward thinking: women, and what happened in the aftermath of the Feb. 14 massacre at that Parkland, Florida, high school. We’re aware of how formidable a force for change the women’s movement have become in American politics. But when teen survivors of the shooting irrupted the national conversation with a fresh thunder of grief, we all paid attention too.
Collectively, they managed more than confronting corrupt politicians, in bed with the National Rifle Association, as one’d wish the media and elected officials would do but don’t. They actually were directly responsible for some changes in Florida’s gun laws, mild but unthinkable up to that sad Valentine’s Day. And proved that they can be passionate, honest, and articulate in their demands. If only they could also vote.
For they’re in average two years short of voting age, but, according to some studies, would be more likely to vote now than later, when busy getting into college. That could be fixed. And indeed, it must. For despite what pop-psychology preaches, ‘that’ part of their brains, called ‘cold cognition,’ is fully formed and ready to make the right decisions. We desperately need that righteousness on our political system. Now.
There were 72 million under-18 people in the U.S. in 2010, Census data show. There’s no reason to think numbers have varied much since. So there’s roughly 22% of the American population out there, still short of the right to exercise choice about their own future, like every citizen.
OK, not all would vote, if given a choice. Neither all votes are well thought out and help progressive change. And finally, educational tools necessary to make informed decisions at the polls are out of reach for most public schools and teachers, already starved out of resources.
Being that as it may, it can’t hurt to lower voting age to 16, as many countries already do. About 24 million voters, between 18 and 29 years old, voted in 2016, and the majority favored Hillary Clinton for president. Being blunt, can the Democratic Party really afford to lose them?
Speaking of which, what a monumental disappointment the opposition party has been lately. Democrats have been staggeringly indifferent even to the few issues galvanizing Americans now, such as gun control, Net Neutrality, and consumer and labor rights, while fully engaged at undermining progressive candidates in local primaries, and voting to relax bank restrictions, put in place after the financial collapse of 2008.
Just months from their best shot at regaining the House from the GOP, one wishes a survivor teenager or two would point the finger at their expensive noises, and tell them like it is. Apart Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders – who’s not even a party member – and a few others, no one seems willing, or has the clout, to do so. Besides Republicans, something else needs to be crushed coming Nov.: the Democrat leadership.
There are many obstacles for our current electoral model to be effective in promoting a periodic, health switch of direction for the country, as the Founding Fathers envisioned. Including some of their own making, such as the Electoral College, even if appropriated for their times.
The increased disenfranchising of black voters, for instance, the orchestrated campaign on social media by a foreign power interested in demoralizing the U.S. (and, it must be said, also using tactics this country use often against others), even the fact that Election Day is on a work day rather than a weekend or holiday, have all diminished the number of votes cast, and the faith Americans place on the system.
Voters could use the Internet too, as long as the Election Board would use security standards banks routinely apply to protect themselves. And allowing voting by controversial segments of the population, such as inmates, long-time legal residents, and others, could also be discussed, so to make our democracy more representative. But the clearest, most powerful arguments could be made to lowering the voting age to 16.
It’s a revolution whose time may be up, to counterattack so many traps anti-democratic forces have been piling up on the right of voters. Specially if the worst happens and those two megalomaniac leaders get into each others’ case. Above all, we need the teenagers’ enthusiasm, conviction, and determination of speaking from their own heart, something most politicians lack. It’ll be daylight much later today. Enjoy it. WC

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