A Republican presidential candidate who I have never heard of is making headlines this morning for his radical1 proposal to raise the voting age in the United States from 18 to 25.
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy is proposing that the U.S. raise the voting age to 25, with exceptions for those 18 and older who serve in the military, work as emergency responders or take a naturalization test.The Hill: 2024 GOP hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy proposes raising voting age to 25
Why would we want to do that? Because people under 25 despise Republicans? No, no, nothing so craven as that. It’s because (cue Lee Greenwood)…
“The United States faces a 25% recruitment deficit in the military and just 16% of Gen Z say they’re proud to be American,” Ramaswamy said in a statement. “The absence of national pride is a serious threat to our Republic’s survival.”
First of all, much of that recruitment deficit owes to Americans being fat-asses, as this 2020 report from the Congressional Research Service shows us:
A report published in Health Economics in 2012 estimated that the percentage of military-age adults ineligible for enlistment because of excessive body fat more than doubled for men and tripled for women during 1959-2008. Since 2008, the percentage of obese youth has continued to increase.Congressional Research Service: Obesity in the United States and Effects on Military Recruiting
Second, we spend far too much on our military as it is. Guys like this think that any minute now, China is going to load up planes and ships full of troops and commence the conquering of North America, and the only way the eagle keeps the dragon at bay is by pouring trillions of taxpayer dollars into the Pentagon and getting a couple thousand of our 18–25-year-olds killed in some jungle or desert thousands of miles away from China every generation.
We account for well over one-third of the entire planet Earth’s military spending. We spend as much as the next seven countries combined, and five of them are our allies. We could cut our military budget in half and still spend as much as the next two countries combined. Maybe a recruiting deficit isn’t the emergency he thinks it is.
Finally, let’s get to the crux of the issue: one-in-six Americans under the age of 25 aren’t proud to be Americans. I figure rather than punishing them by taking away another one of their constitutional rights, we should figure out what would make them proud? I have some ideas that might make young people of today proud to be an Uh-mare-kin2, where at least I know I’m free…
- Try to stop the high-rolling capitalists from entirely crashing the American economy each decade of their lives;
- Don’t keep having some of their friends come home disfigured and dysfunctional from another needless war;
- Provide for them the security in knowing that being victimized by COVID, cancer, or a car crash won’t bankrupt them;
- Make them cities to live in that aren’t strewn with tents and cardboard boxes full of their friends who were rendered useless to or victims of capitalism by points 1, 2, and 3;
- Seriously work to end fossil fuels and transition to clean energy that might them a planet on which to raise their own American kids;
- Unless they don’t want to raise kids right now because the economy and their future prospects seem so dim, so restore their right to abortion;
- Brighten their future prospects by providing free tuition to state colleges and universities;
- Stop being the country that drone-bombs civilian weddings, or provides support for Israeli Apartheid, or provides support for Saudi honor killings / LGBT executions.
In other words, give young people an America to be proud of, and they will be.
1 The idea of national service to attain voting franchise is well-thought-out in Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. But this guy is targeting only the 18–25-year-olds. That’s the mistake. You don’t tie the franchise to service just for the young people because they’re “not proud.” If he were proposing that everyone with the right to vote now keeps it, but henceforth, new voters must fulfill military or civil service for two years, with accommodations made so everyone of any physical or mental ability could perform some service, I’d be listening. Heinlein’s point was that giving of oneself two years of service to the nation shows that person is dedicated to more than just self, but to the greater good of the people, and therefore trustworthy to vote.
2 When I hear that gawdawful Lee Greenwood song these days, I hear it as “I’m proud to be unAmerican, where the folks like me are free…”