Rule of Law

Next Up: Democrats Want Children to Vote

Oregon legislation to allow children to vote should bring to an end our first reaction to crazy ideas involving our elections — namely laughter. It’s dangerous to laugh at proposals like child-voting when the advocates are deadly serious.

Oregon Senator Shemia Fagan introduced legislation at a press conference to allow sixteen-year-olds to vote. She was flanked by teens wearing homemade T-shirts criticizing firearms. “Sixteen-year-olds are couch surfing with friends while their families are experiencing homelessness, and begging us to take action to protect their future and planet,” Fagan said.

As long as democracies have existed, and as long as this democratic republic has existed, voters must be adults.

This, the latest in a long march of transformational rules over our elections, is a loud alarm that these efforts to change election process rules are really an effort to change America.

Press conference for child voting bill, Sen. Fagan at podium. (Oregon Senate video)

This week, the House is pushing H.R. 1 — a radically transformative bill that would federalize control over state elections.

In the 1960s, Left-wing visionaries realized that instead of elections simply serving as a way to gauge the consent of the governed, tinkering with rules could encourage specific policy outcomes. This is now an open view among Democrats. When I recently testified to the House Judiciary Committee about a massive federal takeover of state election rules known as H.R. 1, Democrats unabashedly said the new rules would help usher in a “green” utopia, and lead to reproductive justice and racial redistribution.

To them, changing how elections are run changes how the country is run.

Oregon’s consideration of allowing 16-year-olds to vote is the next phase. The Left understands the difference between winning elections versus winning debates. When a few states began allowing teens to pre-register to vote in 2005, many snickered at the idea of a slippery slope to minors casting ballots. Today, 14 states plus D.C. do the same, while Oregon pushes the envelope further.

Democrats supporting child-voting are counting on Republicans to respond as they often have in the past to crazy election process changes — ineffectively.

They will reflexively argue that teen minors are, generally speaking, know-nothings about politics and policy. They will also brush back $15 minimum wage hike laws using economic arguments based on sound theories and practice. We will argue policy — while the Left changes process. We treat child-voting as a good-faith stupid idea, when it is another in a long line of bad ideas that are raw power grabs meant to move the narrative hard in their favor.

Conservatives are not woke enough to the fact that election law extends beyond what to do in case of a recount and voter ID (or lack thereof). These process rules define us more than we realize.

Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven’s dream of political transformation through an election system overload was set into reality when Bill Clinton signed the National Voter Registration Act, aka “Motor Voter” — his first primary executive act. States like California have since transformed because of sloppy election administration, and a process that deliberately fails to verify citizenship of new voters.

Expansion of no-fault, early voting has also changed us as a nation. While there are other reasons why we became so polarized, early voting expansion continues to play a substantial part. National cultures as young as ours require group traditions to bind us with unbreakable cords. Modern America benefited from cultural touchstones — even seemingly insignificant ones — like immovable family dinners, religious services, baseball, evening television programming, the Super Bowl (and the commercials), and many more to make the unum on our money work.

Voting on Election Day sat at the top.

Nowhere else would you find all walks of life piling into converted community spaces to perform a single function. Once we stopped voting in unison, our elections became separated affairs.

Now, our politics have devolved into a cold civil war. Senator Fagan now wants children to join her march.

Since the late 1970s when California and Texas started offering expanded voting dates, turnout flatlined. Here again, we saw that removing urgency will ultimately reduce action. Voting became something you could do another day — just like educating yourself and caring about the issues of the election.

Citizens with regular working lives — particularly in flyover country — became collateral damage. Want further proof? Take a guess at who gets hurt worst in an Electoral College dissolution scenario — another agenda item of Senator Fagan and her transformational allies across the land.

The core danger of H.R. 1 becomes even clearer to the surviving parts of American elections, namely state control. Universal automatic voter registration may sound utopian, but it carries with it a major cultural shift. American greatness requires volunteerism. We are simply better off when citizens opt in.

Registering to vote is a key step in “adulting,” and bookmarks a point for any citizen that they really have skin in the game. It’s also a way to put people in the right statehouse district or county council seat ahead of time.

Voter registration is itself a choice so we can preserve the concept of choice. Socialism and manifestations of it, like the Green New Deal, will continue to be laughable as long as Americans are not broadly born into federal programs — even a seemingly simple voter registry. But with the proposal from Oregon to legalize child-voting, it’s time to stop laughing and start resisting.