Who Gets to Vote?

Copyright (c) 2016 by Kenny Felder

America's founders justifiably boasted that they had created a country where the people elect their own leaders. Today we recoil at how narrowly the original Constitution defined "the people," and justifiably boast that we now honor the ideals of our founding fathers better than they themselves did. Still, you have to wonder—were they even aware of their hypocrisy? When slave-owning Jefferson wrote "all men are created equal" and slave-owning Madison defended "equal laws protecting equal rights," did they wink at each other? Or did they just not notice how many were left out?

As one way of approaching that question, I sometimes tell people that our country has never tried to extend the vote to all citizens. They look at me funny: am I talking about felons? About voter ID laws? Unless they know me well enough to know my personal hot-button issues, it never occurs to them that we deny the right to vote to anyone who is under 18 years old. They just don't notice.1

So I suspect the founding fathers actually believed they had attained universal suffrage. If you asked them about blacks and women they might respond "Well obviously not them, but you know what I mean."

I have two radical opinions about who should get to vote. My first is that there should be no age restriction. I'll come back to that in a minute, but first let me introduce the second opinion.

September 26, 1960. Voters who listened to the first Nixon/Kennedy presidential debate on the radio pronounced Nixon the winner, but television viewers overwhelmingly felt that Kennedy won. Given how many voters said that the debates influenced their votes, and given how close the election was, the difference between radio and television may well have determined the outcome of that election.

Both groups heard the exact same debate. So what was the difference? No one is quite sure. Kennedy made eye contact with the camera, while Nixon actually faced the people he was talking to. Kennedy had a better tan, while Nixon had inadequate makeup and looked pale. Whatever your favorite theory, I think it's safe to say that it had nothing to do with either man's qualifications to be president.

It seems to me that our country chose its 1960 president because of his tan. More importantly, it seems to me that it wasn't a fluke. Voters generally choose the taller of the two candidates. They vote based on yard signs and bumper stickers that contain nothing but the candidate's name. They vote based on completely content-free slogans. (No matter what side you're on I promise you, I promise you, the candidates on the other side are also in favor of hope, children, America, jobs, and a brighter future.) They vote based on personal characteristics that have nothing to do with politics. (Clinton had a cat named Socks, Obama is good at basketball, Trump has bad hair.) They vote based on carefully scripted "zingers" in debates. (If you're old enough, you probably remember Lloyd Bentsen telling Dan Quayle "You're no Jack Kennedy." You may also remember Willie Horton. Do you remember anything else from the 1988 debates?)

If all that crap didn't have a huge impact on votes, why would the media and the campaigns keep pumping it out?

I like that Aaron Burr. I can't believe we're here with him!
He seems approachable, like you could grab a beer with him.2
Why is it that voters elect the leaders of our country based on all these factors that have absolutely nothing to do with substantial politics? It's possible—just bear with me here, it's at least possible—that it's connected to the fact that most voters have no clue about substantial politics. 73% of American citizens have no idea why we fought the Cold War and 44% do not know what the Bill of Rights is.3 51% of Americans don't know what country used a nuclear bomb.4 The question "from what country did America gain its independence following the Revolutionary War?" stumped 24% of respondents, and "does the earth revolve around the sun, or does the sun revolve around the earth?" flummoxed 21%.5

The solar system isn't particularly relevant, but I just love citing that last statistic. In any case, things don't look any better when we turn to current affairs. Many Americans love the Affordable Care Act but hate Obamacare.6 In one 2004 poll a majority supported "a constitutional amendment allowing only marriages between a man and a woman," but three questions later a majority agreed that "defining marriage is not an important enough issue to be worth changing the Constitution."4

These peoples' votes count just as much as yours. They see a sick child in the news and it tugs on their heartstrings and they vote. They hear a rant on Fox News and it gets them angry and they vote. They hear a good one-liner on "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me," they see a colorful sign in a yard, they read a feel-good story about a candidate and a puppy, and then they go elect the man who will start our next war, redefine our health care system, and appoint Supreme Court judges for life.

This is the point where you remind me that "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others." But it doesn't have to be this way. When you take the average voter and educate him about the issues, his opinions become quite different, less knee-jerk in either direction, more nuanced. (I'm going to put this link up here, not in a footnote like all the others, to urge you to actually click on it; this is fascinating all by itself. www.alternet.org/books/why-are-americans-so-pathetically-ignorant-about-politics) Better voting is possible, but it takes work.

I'm finally ready to tell you my second radical opinion, which is that we should restrict voting privileges to the at-least-a-little-knowledgeable. You should have to pass a test, and if you can't pass it, you can't vote.

So those are my two radical opinions. I believe them separately; that is, if you gave me either one without the other, I would consider it an improvement. But I think they go well together. I have always said that when we implement age-based restrictions on signing a contract, driving, drinking, or anything else, we are using age as a proxy for some other attribute that is harder to measure. For instance, maybe we don't want 15-year-olds to vote because we think they will not vote based on the issues. So why not more directly narrow the field to people who vote based on the issues?

But the other reason I present my two ideas together is because of the contrasting reactions they get. It's horribly elitist—undemocratic, unfair, un-American—to favor the knowledgeable over the ignorant. But it's perfectly fine—not elitist, not discriminatory even—to shut the doors on millions of passionately interested citizens because they happened to be born 17 years ago. When those citizens mature they will realize what a grand favor we were doing them all along.


If I were a better writer, the entire essay up to this point would only be a few paragraphs long. The advantages of discriminating based on knowledge rather than age are fairly obvious, right? But there are also a lot of important objections to these two ideas. So the real meat starts now, when I list your objections and respond to them.

Objection: We tried the whole "voting test" thing in the 1960s and it was horribly racist.

Water fountains were horribly racist in the 1960s too. We didn't solve this problem by getting rid of water fountains; we just made them color-blind.

Objection: OK, then, what non-racist, non-biased test are you going to use?

I have two ideas here. My first idea is a basic civics test—describe the separation of powers between the three branches of government, pick from a list some of the guarantees in the Bill of Rights—the kinds of questions that immigrants answer to become US citizens. My second idea is to allow the potential voter to choose any three current issues and correctly name the major candidates and their positions on these issues.

Both ideas are apathy tests as much as anything else. I couldn't pass a high school civics final exam right now. But if you gave me the materials and told me to study them and then take a test, just like we do for driver's licenses, I would take the time. If it's not worth your time, stay home.

If you don't like either of my two ideas, come up with your own. Appoint a bipartisan commission. My point is that it isn't that hard to come up with a test that is not particularly biased against liberals, against conservatives, against blacks, against women, etc. The system doesn't have to be perfect; it just has to be an improvement.

And by the way, we would presumably make the test available in multiple languages, and accessible for the blind, and so on. Whatever measures we take for voting itself would also apply to this test.

Objection: You are going to disproportionately disenfranchise poor people, so government will no longer care about their issues. (or) You're going to create a "tyranny of the elite."

I half agree. Poor people already vote far less than rich people.7 My system would probably widen that gap.

But the conclusion that this would hurt poor people is based on the premise that poor voters help elect leaders who represent their interests, even if those voters know nothing about the issues. I'm skeptical. The people who raise this objection—I'm talking to you, Mr. Well Educated Liberal—will do a better job of electing officials with help-the-poor policies than completely uninformed voters will ever do.

In fact, since I'm addressing my argument specifically to Mr. W.E.L., don't you kind of feel that evil conservatives are hoodwinking poor people into voting against their own economic interests by raising diversionary issues like gay marriage and transsexual bathrooms? Ga'head, admit it.

Objection: Children are generally less informed than adults.

This is where my two radical ideas come together, right? Most of my high school students know more about politics than I do. Let's weed out the ones who don't.

Objection: Even if they are informed, children don't have the judgement / maturity to make such important decisions. You can't test for that.

To some extent, I think I can. As I mentioned above, any test you give is really designed to screen out the apathetic; does this person want to vote enough to spend the necessary time? That may not be a perfect measure of judgement and maturity, but I think it's a much better measure than your birthday.

Objection: Children will just vote the way their parents do. (or) This just empowers people who have lots of children.

This was of course one of the objections to women's suffrage: you're just giving every married man two votes. I have to believe that the people making this argument back then had not spent much time talking to real women. I have to believe that the people making this argument today have not spent much time talking to real teenagers.

Objection: Even if we agree about teenagers, do you really want to enfranchise ten-year-olds? Four-year-olds? Where do you draw the line?

I don't draw it based on a birthday. I draw it based on a test. I don't think you'll get too many four-year-olds passing the test, but for the ones who do, more power to them.

Remember, as you consider these proposals, that my system doesn't have to be perfect in order to be worthy of your consideration. It just has to be—maybe, possibly—better than our current system.

So now you know what I think. What do you think?

1Here's a nice example from a recent New York Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/25/opinion/should-everybody-vote.html): "Initially, only white male property owners could vote. There was a long and often bloody struggle to include all citizens, regardless of economic status, race and gender—and the fight still continues to oppose de facto exclusions of those legally allowed to vote." (My italics.) I'm willing to bet that the idea that we still don't "include all citizens" because of age discrimination never crossed the mind of the author, or of most of his readers.

2These lines from the brilliant Broadway musical "Hamilton" echo a comment that was frequently made—and taken as a serious political factor, and polled about—about George W. Bush.





7In 2012, 80.2% of those making more than $150,000 voted, while only 46.9% of those making less than $10,000 voted. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/01/income-gap-at-the-polls-113997


From: Robin Livingston

"No matter what side you're on I promise you, I promise you, the candidates on the other side are also in favor of hope, children, America, jobs, and a brighter future." I absolutely agree and adore this line!!! I get so tired of being called racist, bigot and homophobe, because I happen to agree with a more fiscally conservative philosophy. Aside from that wonderful line, I think I have to agree with you for the most part. Passing a test of basic knowledge could only improve the outcomes. Also, my children are pretty versed in politics just having been born to parents who are on opposite ends of the political spectrum but who happen to respect each other's viewpoints. They know what we believe and why we believe the way we do. I would certainly trust their viewpoints, even if I don't agree with them all the time. My youngest wouldn't be bothered yet, but he's only 8 and doesn't care about politics at all. He does like Donald Trump jokes, though. :) I'm not sure if I could go with dropping or eliminating the age requirement without the basic knowledge test. I would be ok with dropping the age for children who are legally emancipated. My feeling is that, if you can't enlist in the military, get married without my permission, or legally sign a contract, you probably shouldn't vote either. I don't have a good reason other than, if i have to speak for you on these issues, I also speak for you in politics until you reach the age of majority.

From: Kenny Felder
"My feeling is that, if you can't enlist in the military, get married without my permission, or legally sign a contract, you probably shouldn't vote either." Yeah, I want to change all that too

From: Robin Livingston
We need to start with the drinking age. I can't believe you are allowed to enlist in the Army but can't buy a beer!

From: Piyusha Mittal

I think it's important to note that some Americans, those who are naturalized citizens, already do have to pass a test of knowledge to be able to vote. I realize that you pointed this out in your essay but I really think this argument that you're making should be reframed as "some Americans have to pass a test to be able to vote, but why not all?" It's those are born in this country who have the privilege of voting without the requirement of actually knowing. And in many cases, it's ten times as hard for an immigrant who wants to be a naturalized citizen to pass this test of knowledge: often times they come to the USA after they are past school-age so cannot learn about American history and politics in an American school setting, or they do not have the luxury of having free time to study for or actually take the exam because they work 3 jobs to put food on the table, or they may be able to pass the test with flying colors in Spanish or Tamil or Polish but not in English (while voting is accessible to non-English speakers, part of the civics exam for naturalization is an English requirement), or they may not have $700+ to pay for the naturalization process, or any one of other countless reasons that (documented) immigrants are disadvantaged but still held to a higher standard. As a side note, I also understand that immigrants are not taking this test JUST for voting purposes. They take it to become American citizens, which then gives them the right to vote. But for all intents and purposes, if an immigrant wants their voice to count directly in the election process, they effectively must take a test to be able to vote. Anyway, my point is that I think that part of what you are arguing for—a knowledge requirement to be able to vote—is not new; rather, you are calling for its expansion. I don't necessarily agree or disagree yet, but I think that looking at the issue with this perspective might help reposition both the concept and current application of a voting test in people's minds.

From: Kenny Felder
Well said and thank you, Piyusha!

From: Michelle Williams
You have some good points, Piyusha. I would say that you need to pass the test every X years or something—however long your voter registration lasts or maybe your driver's license. I learned all the things in high school that an immigrant has to learn but I've forgotten so much.

From: Felicia Bowen Bridges

I love both ideas and think that you've explained and defended them well. I am doubtful that it would ever be changed in this way—after all—we are getting tons of flack just for saying you need to prove you are who you say you are. I would imagine the outcry against testing would be deafening, and I believe that constructing tests that are truly not biased against any group would be more challenging than you think. I think there are aspects of "civics lessons" that are perceived as biased and/or perceived differently. As much as we'd like history to be just the facts, the reality is that most history books and lessons are biased based on who wrote them and what their agenda was.

From: Zachary Klughaupt

Kenny Felder, I started reading your essay thinking "I disagree, let me figure out what Kenny missed," and then finished the essay convinced you are right.

From: Zachary Klughaupt
Except for one thing (you knew that was coming!): how do you prevent cheating? I'm particularly thinking of vote-by-mail/absentee ballots, when voters have all the time in the world and complete access to friends, library, the internet, etc. Or are you content with making this a collaborative, open-book test on the theory that if a voter takes even the minimal trouble to find an answer to the questions, that's sufficient?

From: Kenny Felder
I hadn't thought about that. But given how many other things depend on tests—the ability to drive, to practice law, to get into college, and so on—it's clearly a problem that can be solved to within some reasonable tolerance.

From: Michelle Williams
I'd actually be OK with the tests being something you can take online from home. I think. I don't mind if you "cheat"—Google the info—as long as you read it all and understand it. I do mind if someone takes the test for you and I don't know how to prevent that, really. But, if you can take it from home and look up the answers online, why bother having someone else do it for you?

WA has mail-in ballots. Actually, if you can still go somewhere to vote in a voting machine, I'm unaware of it. Ballots are only sent to registered voters and I don't recall what I had to do to prove I was who I said I was when I registered. But, now that I'm registered, I don't have to prove I am who I say I am when I vote other than to sign my name. I don't think we have much if any cheating, though I'm not sure I could tell you why not. We just don't seem to. And, if you think your vote was stolen or something, you can challenge it. But in any case, it's glorious.

Because me before mail-in ballots standing in the voting machine: Was it Mr. Brown I wanted to vote for as the District 6 whatev or Mr. Jones? One of those. Both of those? I don't recall. I don't even recall what a district 6 whatev actually does. Crap.

Me with a mail in ballot: Let's see, they want me to vote for District 6 whatev. What does that person do? Oh, interesting. I guess it makes sense there's a job for that. Do I want to vote for Mr. Brown? Let's see what he's all about. Hrm. No, I don't agree w/ him on X. How about Mr. Jones. Hrm. I don't agree w/ him on Y. Which is more important to me? Um...X. OK, Mr. Jones it is. Let's see, now they want me to vote for the blah blah.

But I fill out the entire ballot at my desk in front of my computer, making WAY MORE INFORMED choices than I ever did before. LOVE IT.

From: Mark Edward Minie

Humans are no longer smart enough to govern themselves or save themselves and so must invent Artificial Super Intelligences ASIs) to guide and supervise us if we are to survive...it is no longer a matter of government or votes in the conventional sense...we need careful adult supervision...the Trump phenomenon and the whole transgender bathroom mess along with climate change denialism are argue in favor of my position...

Here is the ending of Collosus: The Corbin Project where such a machine essentially makes the same argument.

The final season of Person of Interest also makes an updated argument for this...

From: Mark Edward Minie
I'm absolutely serious...H. sap is not intelligent enough to manage its own affairs w/o help...possibly from advanced Artifical Intelligences we are now inventing and bringing online...Global Climate Change, asteroid impacts, agricultural and biosphere collapse are all beyond our abilities to solve regardless of the system of government and who gets to vote...

From: Lauren Siegel

In regards to the voting test—I really prefer the 'name issues you care about and each major candidate's position on them', mostly because I think it'll help with the voting gap between the rich and the poor. Poor people will likely not have the luxury of time for studying civics notes for a test, and it will likely be harder for them to take such a test since they will most likely be less educated than wealthier people. I think the ability to talk/write about things you care about will be less dependent on educational level than a more formal history/civics test. The one major issue that I see with this, is candidates changing their minds or having different positions at different times. To use Donald Trump as an example (just because he's a very easy example, not because I don't think people on the left do this too), within the same 24 hour period he said that transgender people should be allowed to use whatever bathroom they want AND that he doesn't have an opinion on the matter just that it should be a decision made by states and local communities and the federal government shouldn't be involved. I imagine that it would be fairly messy to try and 'grade' this kind of a test, and just because someone's 24 hours behind on the ins and outs of current events doesn't necessarily mean that they're uninformed. Additionally, (and I know your essay wasn't about this, I just thought it was important enough to mention) I definitely think there needs to be measures to ensure that poorer people CAN vote more easily. Making Election Day a national holiday would help, as would improving education in poorer areas, making it easier to get a photo ID, etc. etc.

From: Kenny Felder
That's a good point about the shifting sands!

From: Felicia Bowen Bridges
Love the idea of it being a holiday. That and since we are in the technological age—no more primaries and caucuses. Just campaign for no more than one year and have everyone vote on the same day.

From: Michelle Williams
The mail-in ballots in WA help with the need for a national holiday. I get the ballot two weeks or so before the deadline to mail it in. I can mail it in whenever I want up to midnight on the deadline. If I fill it out the day before, I can put it in my mailbox. If I fill it out on the day, maybe I need to take it to my post office and that's a hassle. But less hassle than finding the voting place.

From: Ben Mygatt

I like this idea, although I'm not sure I would presently be able to pass the section on current events....But do you think that this testing policy should apply to all elections (federal and local) or just presidential? The former seems like it would result in either several necessary rounds of testing or one very long test, and the latter would only serve to preserve the problems you enumerated. If the former, would the civics tests assess knowledge of state constitutions as well? I don't think that stuff is even in most public school curricula (although, from what I've seen, the NC constitution is pretty screwed up so maybe it's not very important).

From: Kenny Felder
All good questions. I'm deliberately avoiding getting into the details of how this would work. I do feel confident the details could get worked out if people bought into the principle. As if that's gonna happen.

From: Sam Evett

Two great ideas! However, can you imagine the way they will be spun by the special interests who have an economic interest in keeping ignorant voters in the game? (Which includes almost all of the special interests.) Why, you'll be compared with Hitler, Stalin, and Frank Underwood. You'll have an easier time getting buy-in on term limits, and good luck with that!

From: Kenny Felder
Yeah. One of the delights of blogging is that I'm free to promote all kinds of ideas that have absolutely no possibility of success in our current culture.

From: Michelle Williams
Like a TED talk! :-)

From: Michelle Williams

I like your ideas but the details are where the discrimination and complexity and expense are going to result so, while you're avoiding them, perhaps you should think about some general guidelines/principles to help prevent all that.

Right? I don't think SATs and such were originally intended to be racially biased, etc.

In this time of technology, I'd push for the tests being online. A lot of the poor still have access to the internet at home or on their phones. And those who don't can probably get to a local library more easily than their particular voting booth. I think libraries are still things we should have and serving the community by granting access to the internet is one of the reasons why.

Special accommodations can/should be made for people who are blind, deaf, don't read well, etc.

I don't actually want the tests to be complex. 5-7 random questions from a pool of 100 about the Constitution, Amendments, who is currently president, who is currently governor of your state, who is currently mayor of your town. If you want to put current events on there I'm even OK with something as basic as just needing to know that Roe vs. Wade made abortion legal. Things like that. If you make it too current, as Felicia (I think it was) pointed out, you've got the shifting sands problem. While I want folks to be aware that politicians flip-flop (all the damn time), I don't want to prevent them from voting because of it. As a matter of fact, I can see unintended consequences arising from the ability to shift sands and eliminate a set of voters as a result.

From: Michelle Williams

As for the age thing, I definitely would have been a more informed voter in my mid-teens than I was in my 30s. So I'm sort of leaning your way on letting the test decide. However, I really did not have the perspective that I do now. It's one thing to read about history and quite another to have lived some of it. Just yesterday, someone made a comment about building a wall being a bad idea—they were in Korea at the border between N & S. I noted that we apparently didn't learn anything from the Berlin Wall. Would I have made that mental leap if I didn't so vividly remember it coming down (or going up as some really old people do), if I'd only read about it in school? I don't know. I was much more idealistic and saw everything in black and white rather than the shades of gray I now know it all to be. All that to say I think the tests thing needs to come first and the kinks worked out before we change the age thing.

From: Eric Lester

I liked the article (and am more glad to see you writing again!), but I'm not sure what to make of it. Focusing more on a test for voting, I want to like it, but I'm hesitant. Elections are already such a battle of just getting one's constituents to actually cast a ballot that I'm afraid such a test would result in the election of progressively more radical politicians as only those with the strongest opinions would bother to go through the process and cast a vote. In that same vein, I'm more tempted towards a kind of Australian system where every voting citizen is required to either vote or submit a "nonvoting" ballot. Granted, I don't know that a nation that even knows its neighbors should have everyone voting, so then I'm torn and lean again towards taking the vote from a more educated slice of the population...but then we end up with the pretty hefty issues of proper representation. As a final note, I'll ask anyone who read this far: Do you think that government should represent its people's opinions even if those opinions are objectively harmful to other groups? E.g. if most people support institutional, racial discrimination, should the government follow those people's opinions? Perhaps this is the role of the Supreme Court, but should it be? Should our government make decisions based based on its constituency's opinions if those opinions are misinformed or objectively wrong?

From: Kenny Felder
The founding fathers certainly didn't think so. They were actively worried about a "tyranny of the majority" and put all kinds of layers between the common man and actual policy decisions.

From: Michelle Williams

People of all ages need to be reminded frequently that voting is not so much a right and privilege as a responsibility. My feed fills up with that on voting day but we need to be reminded in time to be informed before voting day.

From: Karen Fisher Moskowitz

Kenny, I read your article yesterday and thought about it all day before posting. It's one of those things that sounds good in theory, but, as with most things, the devil is in the details. And, forgive me for saying so, but, you are also speaking from a position of privilege. Just as most people didn't have the chance to be landowners in the past in order to meet the land owning requirement to vote, most people today don't have access to a fine and supportive private or charter school that teaches civics and spends more on each individual student than other comparable public schools in the state.

My children have gone to public school and while they've had some outstanding teachers along the way (mostly in Atlanta, if I'm being honest), I would guess that their experience in school has been very different than children who, for instance, attend another type of school where education is valued and school budgets are not being constantly cut.

And, let's be honest. Which current political party is the one striving to keep its citizens ignorant? Whose representatives are voting to cut the funds from education, from our public university? Which party is gerrymandering the districts in the state so that they can stay in power? I think one political party in this equation has a vested interest in keeping the populace with low information.

Putting up more barriers to voting isn't the answer. Let's work on making sure all our citizens have the same access to great education, pre-school, civics, classes, fantastic teachers, computers and, then, college, without sinking into life long debt.

Teach people to really think about things and start early,value education, and, then, you won't need a test for people to vote.

From: Robin Livingston
This thought had crossed my mind. I went to a small rural high school. We were required to take American Govt but not a civics class per se, so I really didn't understand much of politics back then. It just seemed like something for grown ups to worry about. My family wasn't particularly political, though my parents always voted. I didn't really get interested until well into my 30's. I would be one of those kids who would probably not have bothered to vote, or I would have just asked my mom how to vote.

From: Ron Sayer

Great Proposals Kenny! Unfortunately, I agree with some in the thread that fair implementation of a test may be impossible. It may be that Universal Suffrage is the worst type of suffrage, except all other types!

From: Kenny Felder
Well, that would be a step in the right direction.

From: Terry Olenchuk

Excellent write-up! Wow, where to start? This is all over the map, but bear with. First, I'd not have the age unlimited, because the parents-vote-twice is very likely for younger children, and they can be taught to pass a test. How often would it be administered? Once in your lifetime, or before every election? What's the cutoff going to be? What happens if someone misses it by a single point? How will it be fairly administered?

If one passes the test, and is deemed informed enough to vote—let's say, age 13—is that same person now eligible to be tried as an adult if he/she commits a felony? What about statutory rape—does the age of consent go out the window?

The test option will be poo-poo'ed by the ACLU and pretty much every other activist group on the planet, because it is our constitutional right to be an uninformed voter. I can say, "constitutional", because I *have* read it. Many who toss the word around in a way that reveals they have no clue what they are talking about.

As for why people vote the way they vote? Simple: 1) abortion; 2) guns; 3) left-v-right leaning SCOTUS appointments. If this is NOT the case, then the representatives of my district's congressional representatives are wasting every last penny that goes towards their mailers. I doubt they'd waste much print space on it, if they didn't fell them to be points of resonance. Candidates can and do shoot themselves in the foot, too. Dukakis whining, "I resent it", and Gore stalking Bush in a town hall debate, come to mind.

Oh, and if drinking age comes up in your responses, it has nothing to do with being able to vote, or being able to join the military. It has to do with the ability to drive. Australia, for instance, has a low drinking age, but not many under-21'ers able to afford a car. Want to easily lower the drinking age? Raise the driving age. If the stats don't, in some way, support this premise, then I doubt the National Minimum Drinking Age Act would have been passed.

 Kenny Felder's Essays and Commentaries

 Send comments or questions to the author