by iampunha | 6/30/2008 08:00:00 AM
Several months ago, before I conceived "Today in History," and before it became a daily series that has since taken over my life, I planned to write these entries not more than once or twice a week, and to often write not about history but about political topics.

One such entry I had planned was an appeal to people to vote, no matter their political persuasion. I may yet run it, but it will not be making an appearance today.

But running it today (edited for time references to "today") would be entirely fitting. Really, running it any day would work in this political climate, where we have seen what happens when scare tactics and "Let's you and him fight" write the dominant story lines and exit polls discover that voters don't care about flag lapel pins or cookie recipes.

Now more than ever, both major presidential candidates tell us, this country needs direction.

And because of the 26th amendment, which Ohio ratified on June 30, 1971, and which grants voting rights to those ages 18 and older, many more Americans can vote.

For the victims of the Soyuz 11 tragedy, and for their families.

One person, one vote.

You may know more than I do, and you may know less than I do. But you get as many votes as I do: one.

You may contribute to political campaigns (and you probably do). You may help sway voters to one candidate. But on Election Day, you have as many votes as I do: one.

If you will be at least 18 by Nov. 4, and you have not had your voting right taken away, you get one say in where this country goes, just as Barack Obama does, just as John McCain does, just as Jimmy Carter does.

One ballot. One day for this country's next four years. Decisions (and revisions) up and down the ballot, all pointing to a direction for this country.

You care about where this country is going or you wouldn't be here. So don't get electoral laryngitis four months and change from now.


We have now granted voting rights to people at least 18 years old, irrespective of gender, race, sex, land ownership, education and religion. You cannot be too old to vote. You cannot be too disabled to vote. You do not have to be able to read your ballot or even see it. You do not have to vote on a Bible, swear allegiance to the country or wear a flag lapel pin. You do not even have to have been born in this country. (And for a long time, Native Americans, whose societies predate the European invasion by some thousands of years, weren't allowed to vote in American elections.)

But the 10-year-old child of a specialist serving in Iraq is not allowed to vote for or against bringing his parent home.

The 4-year-old child who was placed in foster care because her father raped her is not allowed to vote for politicians who will keep her father and people like him far away from her.

The second-generation 16-year-old American who has a gift for art but needs scholarships to attend art school is not allowed to vote for politicians who will fund the NEA and federal, state and other scholarship programs to ensure that minds are not wasted.

Any citizen of this country who will be affected by an election and who can communicate their choice of candidate(s) should be allowed to vote in it.

Yes, this means children. Yes, this means toddlers. Yes, this means teenagers hell-bent on rebelling against their parents by voting the worst possible ticket.

And how is giving children a sense of responsibility early in life a bad thing?

How is encouraging Republicans to ACTUALLY think of the children a bad thing?

How can a teenager voting a ridiculous ticket out of spite be any worse than an adult doing the same thing genuinely thinking it's taking the country in the right direction?

Yes, the average toddler knows almost nothing about politics.

The average pundit these days isn't much better.

Yes, children have temper tantrums.

And adults invade countries on flimsier evidence than "she was breathing my air!"

Yes, the shining redemption of teenagers is that they will someday rejoin productive society.

We might hope the dead-enders in the Republican party will someday do the same.

Yes, teenagers are immature.

"OMG OBAMA IS A SECRET MUSLIM" doesn't exactly shine of maturity, though. And "If Democrats win the White House, the terrorists will rejoice" is equally serious.

The fear might be that youth will hijack politics for their own special interests, like less school, more field trips, and free iPods for all .

First they'd have to find a candidate willing to adopt any part of that platform. They couldn't nominate one of their own, after all, unless they changed the rules to allow youngsters to run for office — which has even less of a chance of passing in the next 20 years than does this effort.

Then they'd have to fund such a candidate.

Simply put, any notion that folks under 18 years old (especially under about 12) would hijack the country is as misguided and disrespectful as those arguments were back when the voting age was 21, back when black people were pragmatically not allowed to vote in the South, back when only white male Protestants voted.

It's misguided because it assumes young people would vote in a bloc.

And it's disrespectful because education funding is a joke in this country. Child rape laws are a joke in this country. Social workers get paid practically nothing.

So why shouldn't politicians who don't support and protect their citizens have to answer to them?