- 29 July 2013
- by Talan Tyminski
At age eighteen American’s gain the right to vote, are legally considered an adult, and can fight for the country. At age twenty-one they’ve been alive for a year over two decades and at twenty-five they can official rent cars, but it’s not until they’re 35 that Americans can run for President. In his book, Too Young to Run? A Proposal for an Age Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Professor John Seery explores the inequality faced by adults under the age of 30. Pointing out that all around the world, young adults have the opportunity to shape their legislature and executive branch, yet in a country that places democracy above all else, we leave out our youth. He explains, “Adults under the federal age requirements pay into social security, use public goods and defend our country, but cannot have a direct say in how things are run.”
While individual states have their own requirements for their local government, on a federal level the United States has become crowded with older politicians. As a result the power to make decisions that impact young adults, such as student loans, are taken away from those they will affect.
Seery’s position is not without critics; he points out “There are those who don’t believe their peers are responsible enough to hold public office and are afraid to take on the responsibility.” But Seery argues the only way to combat the stigma against lowering the official age for public office is for more young adults to hold the office. With over 70 million American’s unable to run for public office, Seery notes, “It will take a youth movement to make the change requirements.”
Both the 2008 and 2012 elections were motivated by the Rock the Vote Campaign, a push for youth to get out and vote, but youth apathy is still prevalent in American politics. Having the ability to hold office not only gives young Americans the opportunity to get involved, but it opens the doors for future reform. Seery confesses he “can research and write about creating political equality but it’s up to the youth to educate ourselves and create actual change.”
With a mounting deficit, environmental concerns, and a push for social change, now, more than ever, it’s important for youth to pay attention to what our government is up to. Getting involved, staying informed, and voting can make you a more active citizen; and it will make your community an equal place for our generation and the future.