by Jamelle Bouie
Should kids have the right to vote? Politico's Michael Kinsley says yes, sort of:
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.
Now, this is not a good proposal. Children and teenagers are the legal responsibility of their parents, but they aren't extensions of their will; parents have no claim on the thoughts, feelings and beliefs of their children. What's more, there is no guarantee that giving a vote to children will reward long-term thinking, especially if "long-term thinking" is just a synonym for Michael Kinsley's policy views (which I suspect is the case).
If we were to count children as a vote—with parents making the actual decision at the ballot box—odds are good that it would be irrelevant for long-term thinking. Voters mostly decide on the basis of partisanship and personal economic conditions; in all likelihood, parents would vote as they do now, but with a second (or third, or fourth) vote to use. Which is unfair, and seems unwise.