So today is sort of #16tovote on the 16th. I don’t run it anymore, though. Not from NYRA anyway since I no longer run that Twitter account due to some internal NYRA politics I don’t care to get into right now. But in sticking with tradition, I’ll say something else about it today.
There’s more to being a youth rights supporter than merely supporting a few goals. It’s a deeper conviction, a deeper consciousness. In the nearly three years since #16tovote on the 16th began, there have been a fair number of participants, though that’s considering participation can mean as little as retweeting one thing with a #16tovote hashtag on it.
A question might be… are all of these people youth rights supporters?
I think I can safely say that. Don’t get me wrong. Plenty of them are. Plenty more might be if they learned more about the issues and philosophy. But supporting lowering the voting age to 16, if there is in fact even that much support and they don’t merely find the idea non-seriously interesting, does not alone indicate support for youth rights.
The way to decipher that is why they support lowering the age. And I don’t just mean the age-old (LOL) battle of lower vs abolish. I mean, for example, if they want a lower age because they believe it might help more Democrats get elected. Or they see it as a feel-good measure. Or they see it as part of a youth involvement campaign. Not that the last one there isn’t pro-youth rights in its own way, of course, but some youth involvement or engagement types have a way of operating under the idea youth are supposed to serve the wider community moreso than others.
Or even if their reasons for a lower voting age are genuinely for the sake of youth having the same voting rights in their own city and country as anyone else, you might wonder how they feel about other youth rights issues. A couple participants in #16tovote on the 16th I’ve seen also supporting corporal punishment or some other token of “parental property”. Or perhaps they make derogatory remarks about teen moms. Or express disgust at a young person swearing. This says they only support youth a little bit, that they like the idea of them voting but probably see them as rightfully inferior in other ways, for whatever reason.
Then again, supporting youth rights goes well beyond a laundry list of goals and issues. The other thing to consider is the individual’s politics and worldview. Sometimes, when an otherwise youth rights supporter seems surprisingly unsupportive of a certain youth rights issue, it might be less a blindspot or lack of understanding, and more that they have certain other values that have led them to that particular conclusion. How this usually manifests, however, is not so much an outright disagreement with the pro-youth rights goal but often a separate option or goal entirely that keeps youth rights very much in mind. And there’s value to the movement in this, as it provides more insight into our own issues and opens up more possibilities for the change we want to see.
It’s also wise to remember not every issue is a clear and cut choice between “pro-youth rights” and “anti-youth rights”. Sometimes both or all sides are a little bit of both.
Why even make this distinction? Well, it’s merely a matter of knowing who does and doesn’t really understand what we’re about, or how close or likely they are. When it comes to support for lowering the voting age, though, surely all the support it gets is welcome, since it’s the same first step regardless of reason or further goal. But it’s only wise to keep the further direction and overall philosophy in mind and let it be known. Otherwise things can go in strange other directions.