Michael Kinsley isn't a big fan of his generation. In October, he called the Baby Boomers "self-absorbed, self-indulged, and self-loathing." And senior citizens: they're a problem too. In his Tuesday column for Politico, he chides the "all-powerful" senior voting block for only looking out for itself--burying future generations under a mountain of debt and runaway legacy costs. What's the solution? Give children the vote:
Or rather, extend the franchise to children, but let parents vote on their underage children's behalf. In effect, parents would get an extra vote for every child. How would this solve the entitlement problem? It wouldn’t, directly. But it would revise the allocation of political power to more closely reflect who has the most at stake. It would reward long-term thinking rather than short-term thinking. Right now seniors are all-powerful because they vote in such large numbers, while young people must rely on the good will of their parents and grandparents to protect their interests. Every politician invokes "our children" as the most important consideration on every issue, and then, having done so, is free to ignore them.
The thrust of Kinsley's piece largely echoes Matt Miller, who suggested lowering the voting age to 10-years-old in a Washington Post column from August. Miller, like Kinsley, sought to push the electorate into thinking in the long term. Only with Kinsley, the idea isn't to let the children actually vote but to give their forward-thinking parents additional clout.
We suppose these measures to weirdly rearrange the electorate are a sign that our debt problem is increasingly intractable. As the Miller piece suggests: we've run out of options.
It would be nice if the kids didn't have to take up this burden, but we are where we are. To those who say this is all unseemly if not insane, I have four words: Got a better idea?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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