Old Enough to Know Better

 
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We’re young! Go us!

Newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic have been full of what some are calling a salient fact: A high percentage of those young Brits who cast their Brexit ballots did so in favor of remaining in the European Union. Indeed, seventy-three percent of those aged 18-24 voted to remain. Rounding up, The Guardian has taken to calling this cohort “the 75 percent.” They are, according to the lefty paper, angry about the direction they see their country taking.

This is hardly surprising. Has there ever been a generation that thought their elders had it right? Those undone by the Brexit outcome are coalescing around a theme: The clear preference of the young proves the stupidity and short-sightedness of the decision to divorce Brussels. It is the young, they claim, who will have to live the longest with the consequences of the Brexit vote.

The New York Times published an op-ed decrying the “angry old men” who are trying to drive the West “off a cliff.” Twitter and Facebook are aflame with the notion of a generational screwing.

“Brexit proves that the generation of people today aged 40-70 have awful thoughtless politics and undermine the young worldwide,” tweeted one freelance journalist.

A petition demanding a re-vote has garnered three million signatures. A Yahoo! writer declared that the divergent desires of young and old made it feel that the Brexit vote hadn’t produced a “fair and equitable outcome.” A Labour Party MP has called on Parliament to ignore the results.

“Young people are feeling let down by a democratic system that produced a result that they didn’t like,” wrote Lara Prendergast in The Spectator. As she noted, however, concern among the young for their European future didn’t translate to voter turnout.

While those in their teens and early 20s were busy declaiming the depth of their emotions, the older generation showed up to pull the proverbial lever. Sixty percent of those over age 60 voted to leave, as did 57 percent of those aged 55 – 64 and 56 percent of those aged 45-54.

The young have always been somewhat at the political mercy of the old, and with good reason. The old have tasted the bitter fruit of experience. They actually know what they are doing, because they have done a few things.

Youth has many things going for it, but it doesn’t have experience and that can make it dangerous. The Framers of the American Constitution knew this. That’s why they instituted minimum ages for the presidency (35), the Senate (30), and the House of Representatives (25).

In Federalist No. 62, James Madison explained the obvious: holding high office required “greater extent of information and stability of character” than can be had by anyone who has not yet “reached a period of life most likely to supply these advantages.”

All democracies require that voters reach a minimum age before being allowed to vote, a limit reflecting the timeless view that children are somewhat unreliable judges of their own best interest.

How often do we hear politicians (including some pouting now about the Brexit result) boast of being the only “adult in the room” when debates devolve into partisan bickering?

Wisdom and seasoning doesn’t always trump energy and inexperience. Plenty of old kings have sent their young subjects off to die in foolish wars. But representative democracies and constitutional republics have mechanisms for dealing with injustice.

We have laws. We have independent courts. We have the ballot box. You don’t like the direction of the country? Vote the bums out.

Of course, if you really want to demonstrate that you’re old enough to have your political opinions taken seriously, maybe don’t pitch a baby fit when your side loses.

And, please, spare us the whining.

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  1. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    A. 18-24 year old are famous for their being able to make reasonable rational decisions….

    B. Based on the above unless Bernie! is the president we are betraying the young.

    • #1
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Matthew Hennessey: Newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic have been full of what some are calling a salient fact: A high percentage of those young Brits who cast their Brexit ballots did so in favor of remaining in the European Union. Indeed, seventy-three percent of those aged 18-24 voted to remain.

    No. A high percentage of those young Brits who voted and answered the impertinent questions of exit pollsters voted in favor of remaining in the European Union. If after a campaign where the Remainers and the press have been unstinting in making accusations of racism on anyone thinking of voting to Leave, why put up with the aggravation of answering questions about it? Just tell the pollster to go play in traffic and move on.

    • #2
  3. KC Mulville Inactive
    KC Mulville
    @KCMulville

    Youth privilege? No.

    Granted, I can see the objections to “elder” privilege as well. But a vote is a vote, and all of them should be equal.

    • #3
  4. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    I opined on the whining over the weekend. This demographic rationalization is a cosmetic cover for their beliefs that democracy is an idiot’s way of governing.

    I think we need to face a sobering fact: Millenials have been indoctrinated with ideas that make them very comfortable with the idea of living in an authoritarian state. Like the true believers in the old Soviet system they believe democracy is having a choice between those who have been preapproved to have all the correct views.

    Older voters are holding off the inevitable. The Progressives think they are heading to paradise, but setting aside Brexit, they are still heading toward oblivion. For all of their talk about “the future,” they’re not doing much to secure one. They disdain having children of their own and throw open their borders to those that do. When they vote for the last time it will be for Sharia. And that will do wonders for their LBGTIQVWXYZ lifestyles.

    • #4
  5. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    I’m not surprised.

    Many young people in Britain, particularly those whose parents have struggled, and largely succeeded,in giving their children what most people would consider a decent life, have never had to deal with the consequences of failure. (The same is true in the US).

    For them, failure simply hasn’t been an option.  Literally.

    They’ve never failed in school, and when they did, excuses were made for them, or standards were changed, until the same level of performance suddenly indicated success.

    They’ve never lost in competitive sports, having always received a ‘participation trophy’ that was at least as nice as the one given to the ‘winner,’ if such a privileged and judgmental term was even allowed to be used.

    They’ve never failed at play, having had it mapped out for them through a series of contrived play dates or strictly controlled school activities during which it is to be hoped that no one becomes dirty enough, or active enough, or vocal enough, to get hurt or be accused of bullying or hate speech.  And if the worst were to happen, they know that their parents can always call a lawyer and sue, turning them into winners again.

    So I’m not surprised they take losing badly.  And that they’re not happy with an older generation that, after two or three decades of coddling their precious little snowflakes, has finally turned up the heat.

    Good on them.  But let’s not forget who’s actually responsible for the execrable behavior of the youth.  And why they behave the way they do.

    • #5
  6. Ross C Member
    Ross C
    @RossC

    And if they are lucky, the young people become the old.  As they age, they become less beautiful, vegetables taste better, new music sounds strange, and oh yes they become more conservative.

    • #6
  7. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    I’m suspecting that when many of these young people hear their elders speak of ‘freedom’, they think of being able to travel freely without hassle or getting ‘free’ healthcare and education, a la Bernie mode. I doubt they spend much time thinking about political and economic liberty.

    • #7
  8. Lily Bart Inactive
    Lily Bart
    @LilyBart

    A Yahoo! writer declared that the divergent desires of young and old made it feel that the Brexit vote hadn’t produced a “fair and equitable outcome.” A Labour Party MP has called on Parliament to ignore the results.

    I’m sure they’d be saying the same if the result were reversed!  /scarc

    • #8
  9. Chuck Enfield Inactive
    Chuck Enfield
    @ChuckEnfield

    Why do people talk as if election results indicate what particular demographics want?  While elections generally provide very large samples, they are not even remotely random samples.  As such, they can’t be used to draw conclusions about the entire population.

    This is not to suggest that we should substitute public opinion polling for voting.  I’m just trying to make the point that we have no idea what percentage of adults under 25 wish to stay in the EU.  We only know what the handful who cared enough about the issue to actually vote think about it.  For all we know the kids who stayed home could want the UK to nuke Brussels.

    • #9
  10. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    I fail to understand why the preferences of a six-year-span cohort (18 to 24), should take precedence over the preferences of a 75-year-span cohort (25 to 100).

    • #10
  11. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Lily Bart:

    A Yahoo! writer declared that the divergent desires of young and old made it feel that the Brexit vote hadn’t produced a “fair and equitable outcome.” A Labour Party MP has called on Parliament to ignore the results.

    I’m sure they’d be saying the same if the result were reversed! /scarc

    I’d remarked elsewhere that, were the situation reversed, and it was Remain that won, they’d be telling Leave “Shut up, you lost, we won” right now. There’d be absolutely zero hesitance.

    • #11
  12. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    The left relies on youth for their votes, their mobs, their cannon fodder,  and  never face scarcity.  Maybe  aging of the west’s populations  has some  benefit afterall.

    • #12
  13. David Deeble Member
    David Deeble
    @DavidDeeble

    Breaking: Millions Of Young Brits Claim To Be The Only Adult In The Room (Great post, Matthew: thanks for it.)

    • #13
  14. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    The idea that one’s vote should count for more because one will be living with the decision for longer can be applied to any long term commitment: building a highway, signing a defense treaty with another country, adopting a new education program etc… The older crowd could react by saying that their vote should count for more because they know more. This is all nonsense of course.

    I think what these young people are rejecting is the very idea of a referendum, in other words a vote by the population on a single issue. Some logic to that. It is better to choose representatives and have them vote on all issues.

    • #14
  15. KC Mulville Inactive
    KC Mulville
    @KCMulville

    EJHill: Millenials have been indoctrinated with ideas that make them very comfortable with the idea of living in an authoritarian state.

    Well, so were we.

    I’d argue that ever since FDR (and probably Wilson and Teddy, if not farther back), all Americans have been indoctrinated in “progressive” ideals. Most of us, however, eventually escaped the clutches of the indoctrinators.

    I’d further argue that the original indoctrinators were schools (post John Dewey). They were followed by the sway of popular media (cf. McLuhan) and now all of that is abetted by social media. The reach and expanse of indoctrination is growing. At least in the old days, you could eventually escape and think for yourself (at which point, you’d be skeptical of … and then be vigorously opposed to … the propaganda you’d been taught).

    Indoctrination and propaganda thrive where everyone around you believes it, and the herd reinforces the effect. It’s only when you, as an individual, get some distance from the herd that the illogic of the propaganda starts to dawn on you.

    But today’s generations never get to stray too far from the herd. For all their earring/tattoo pretensions of rebellion, they’ve lost any true individuality. They can’t critically examine what they’ve been taught, because the ones who were supposed to them teach those skills are, coincidentally, the ones who have a vested interest in perpetuating the indoctrination.

    • #15
  16. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Another piece of context: this isn’t the first time the UK has voted on the European Union.

    Many of those voting Leave last week were once young — and once voted “In.”

    Times change, and people change, and sometimes you see the future differently once you begin living in it.

    • #16
  17. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Marion Evans: I think what these young people are rejecting is the very idea of a referendum, in other words a vote by the population on a single issue. Some logic to that. It is better to choose representatives and have them vote on all issues.

    Does that apply even to constitutional questions?

    In the USA, having a federal constitution as it does, a constitutional amendment requires the consent of the states.

    The UK does not have a federal constitution. Therefore, should changes to the country’s constitution (as Brexit, not to mention EU membership in the first place, definitely was) be left to Westminster or should constitutional questions be put to the people?

    • #17
  18. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Leigh: Many of those voting Leave last week were once young — and once voted “In.”

    Was there a referendum when Britain joined the EU?

    • #18
  19. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Misthiocracy:

    Leigh: Many of those voting Leave last week were once young — and once voted “In.”

    Was there a referendum when Britain joined the EU?

    No but this is the second referendum on whether to remain: there was one in 1975, back when the EU was the EEC.

    • #19
  20. Matt Upton Lincoln
    Matt Upton
    @MattUpton

    I’m so glad I’m getting older. Some day there will be a new Millenial (Post-Millenial?) generation, and everyone can agree that they are the worst. At thirty-one I can see the light of responsibility and adulthood without the narcissism. As soon as I move out of my parents house, I’ll be all set.

    On a separate note, this demographic subdividing is tiresome. It’s implied that if a majority of a subgroup votes one way but loses overall, they have been disenfranchised–like their vote simply wasn’t counted.

    • #20
  21. Stephen Dawson Inactive
    Stephen Dawson
    @StephenDawson

    Indeed, seventy-three percent of those aged 18-24 voted to remain. Rounding up, The Guardian has taken to calling this cohort “the 75 percent.”

    Actually, no. Seventy three per cent of those aged 18-24 did not vote to remain. Seventy three per cent of those aged 18-24 who voted, voted to remain. But the turnout for that demographic group was just 36%.

    The Guardian should take to calling this cohort “the 26 per cent’! (0.73 times 0.36)

    By way of comparison, of my own age group — 55 to 64 — 81% voted.

    You can’t win if you don’t turn up.

    • #21
  22. Chuck Enfield Inactive
    Chuck Enfield
    @ChuckEnfield

    Stephen Dawson:Actually, no. Seventy three per cent of those aged 18-24 did not vote to remain. Seventy three per cent of those aged 18-24 who voted, voted to remain. But the turnout for that demographic group was just 36%.

    The Guardian should take to calling this cohort “the 26 per cent’! (0.73 times 0.36)

    Thanks.  I was looking for that stat. Oh, and some of the comments on the page you linked are funny too.

    • #22
  23. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Matt Upton: I’m so glad I’m getting older. Some day there will be a new Millenial (Post-Millenial?) generation, and everyone can agree that they are the worst. At thirty-one I can see the light of responsibility and adulthood without the narcissism. As soon as I move out of my parents house, I’ll be all set.

    serious

    • #23

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