Teenagers work, drive and pay taxes. They should also be able to vote.

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1. a campaign to give young voters the right to vote for the American elections

Well, you didn’t vote for me. — Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CALIF.) at a 16-years, Sunrise Movement activist in 2019who asked him to support the Green New Deal.

What age are we talking about?

The most popular proposal is to give everyone 16 and the right to vote. In the USA, 16-years work full time, pay taxes and drive, so why not vote? And most live with family, which may be a better time for them to vote for the first time – than when they’re in the midst of major life transitions a few years later.

In countries like Scotland and Austria, where 16– and 17-year-olds can vote in some or all elections, teenagers vote at higher rates than their slightly older cohorts- and Studies show voters who start earlier stick to the usual. Civically engaged teens at home might even stimulate the involvement of parents and other family members.

Empowering more young people could also combat what writer Astra Taylor called gerontocracy”: a generational cohort making long-term policies that they won’t be there to deal with. As the electorate grows more diverse and progressive overall, the system is rigged against results that reflect this reality.

Are teenagers really interested in politics?

They probably should. Some of the biggest problems facing society – climate change, gun violence, student debt – weigh most heavily on young people. Meanwhile, half of Congress is over 60.

What would it take to lower the voting age?

We have already done that. After years of mass protests (and more than 2 million Americans enlisted in Vietnam), the 26e The amendment reduced the voting age from 21 at 18to add 11 million new voters for 1972 election.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) raised the issue in March 2019. A month earlier, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D‑California) had curtly chastised young climate activists, a scene gone viral. Pressley’s plan continues to face bipartisan opposition.

There is more movement at the local level. Efforts failed in San Francisco and Boston, but several small towns lowered the age to 16 for local elections, where politics has been effective and popular. Takoma Park, Md., was the first, back in 2013; below-18 voters had a turnout four times higher than those over 18.

What if teens make bad decisions?

Young people are at the forefront of some of the most dynamic movements of our time. If you’re still not convinced, consider a simple counter: do adults really do such a good job?

It’s part of “The Big Idea,” a monthly series offering brief introductions to progressive theories, policies, tools, and strategies that can help us envision a world beyond capitalism. For recent In these timescoverage of electoral reform, see If you like the idea of ​​a 4‑Day Workweek, you will love it 5‑Hour Workday, Community Care Over Self-Care and The Gig Economy Needs Worker-Owned Apps.

Maria D. Ervin