The Instigator
larztheloser
Pro (for)
Losing
7 Points
The Contender
KroneckerDelta
Con (against)
Winning
12 Points

That the voting age should be lowered to 15

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
KroneckerDelta
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/7/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 15,069 times Debate No: 29981
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (282)
Votes (4)

 

larztheloser

Pro

My opponent seemed to believe that this resolution was undebatable. I'm here first of all to prove him wrong, and second of all to show why I've long thought that the voting age restriction should definitely be lowered.

Some ground rules. There are four rounds, 72 hours per round, 8000 characters in each round. Debaters should post all their arguments and sources in their rounds, and voters should consider nothing except the arguments and sources presented in the debate (comments not being considered part of the debate). I (obviously) have the burden of proof. The first round is for acceptance.

The presumption of the resolution is that the voting age is currently 18 or higher. I'll presume that the debate is set in a reasonably western society without regard for any particular jurisdiction or legal code. Because the cultural, educational and social background of youth may be relevant to the debate, I think it is fair that all cultures are considered, given that most reasonably western societies are quite multicultural. The vote we're talking about specifically is any general vote to determine legislative and/or executive office, as the case may be in that jurisdiction, in a national election format (so local body elections could be excluded etc).

I wish my opponent very good luck and look forward to a fun and spirited discussion!
KroneckerDelta

Con

I accept this challenge and thank Pro for the debate.

I will just clarify the rules, but, as stated they seem to be correct. Pro has the BoP. Specifically, if Pro cannot prove why the voting age should be lowered, then Pro has lost the debate. It is not enough to simply argue that it doesn't matter whether or not the voting age should be lowered (i.e. lowering it has no effect)--Pro must make the case that's it's beneficial in some way or another to lower the voting age.

I wish Pro the best of luck.
Debate Round No. 1
larztheloser

Pro

The right to vote (and I think my opponent will agree) is incredibly important. It carries with it the power to accomplish much, and profoundly affect the lives of millions, including most of those people one knows and loves. It requires a significant amount of responsibility, but it's a civic duty, because justice and good order in our society depends on a proper and well-functioning government. The exclusion of any person from a democratic vote, taken literally, is a message from the government that they're not considered people (democracy meaning "government by the people") and that their opinions count for nothing.

There was once a time when society thought that of women. Since then we've seen women do amazing things in politics. The only reason they were denied the right was because the government was mostly controlled by mysogynists. Today, unfortunately, government is mostly controlled by ageists - people who sincerely believe that young people should not have equal rights to old, simply because of their age. It's irrational, because there is no rational link between having an 18th birthday and being qualified to perform this highly important task. This debate is about whether it's justified that 18-year olds with Down Syndrome can vote, but 17-year-old national model UN ambassadors cannot.

My position today is simple - that 18 is not a justifiable boundry.

Engagement

The reason why youth are often scapegoated as apathetic and disengaged delinquients with no sense of responsibility is because the're excluded from all of these processes. Why care about who to vote for if you can't even vote? Why learn about government when the government won't learn about you? Why should you have a responsibility to listen to the law when the law isn't responsive to anything you say? These concerns that youth have are legitimate. Excluding youth from politics has naturally created political apathy, and more dangerously, political resistance. That is why youth are often behind cybercriminal activities - they are searching for a meaningful form of political expression. Why? Because over at the government, a bunch of grandparents are making decisions about them without them. 15 years is old enough to work. It's old enough to pay taxes. It's old enough to drive, be a millionaire, and in many countries, to leave school or get married.

The harm of political disengagement is threefold. First, it's a harm to society, who miss out on this very valuable subpopulation's opinions. The strength of democracy lies in the diversity of the voices it represents, creating incentives to improve life for all the voters. The harm is that young people cannot vote, and are thus usually excluded from that discussion. This is particularly pernicious when that discussion concerns what to do with young people and their problems, because youth have a whole set of political issues that almost exclusively affect them. Second, it's a harm to the disengaged students, who will usually carry forward that apathy or resistance to their adult years. Translation: higher crime, poorer voting, undemocratic society. And thirdly, it's a harm to the responsibility of society. Responsibility is learned, not earned with age. Schools are very good at teaching teenagers to be responsibile, but do not provide any incentives to. In fact, this kind of political disengagement is a strong disincentive. I don't think I need to justify to anybody that when we don't practice things as we learn them, we're not so good at them afterwards.

Education

For the same reason that business students are best placed to talk about business, or science students best placed to talk about science, so too are politics students best placed to talk about politics. 15 year olds are politics students. Put two and two together, and the point is that youth have the potential to be the most switched-on voters of them all. Youth are a huge group - my quick calculations show that this would increase the size of the voting population by about 10% in my country, and it's probably more in others. They have the potential to significantly affect the outcome of any given election. The net impact is, obviously, that better qualified candidates get elected, provided my premise holds true that youth are better qualified voters. In the long run, education is usually harder to forget if practiced both immediately and regularly thereafter. If nothing else, the fact that not only their social and economic future but also their educational future is at stake would provide greater incentives for them to actually use the resources that are available to them, which given the nature of the educational environment they are immersed in are much more objective and informative. In wider society, this more intelligent discourse brought about by young people can only improve the outcomes of the election.

On the other hand, despite the already impressive ability for young people to be politically active, giving them the vote would create incentives to learn more. Being engaged at school is generally hard when half the subjects one is taught bear no relevance to a young person's real life. By contrast, giving them the vote makes everything relevant and important to their immediate life.

Change

As people grow older, they become more conservative. This is a natural progression because people get used to existing social orders very easily given time. This is why so many old people were upset when they discovered in the early 90s (with the more widespread adoption of the internet and so on) that young people actually had political opinions. But the opinions of young people are quite different, because they reject these social orders and strive to create better ones. This has been happening for thousands of years, and as a result, the social orders have excluded the young from their ranks.

This is bad because our society is not perfect, and we want to improve it. Conserving the status quo won't change a thing, but it's what older voters are naturally biased to. That's why we need people who will make change happen. Usually, youth tend to be the most progressive of all demographics (not necessarily in the liberal sense of that word), which is good because it helps our society improve faster and breaks down the social barriers to political discourse, building democracy. Young people also have the greatest incentives to make positive change, given that they

Conclusion

I'd like to have a serious chat to whoever came up with the age of 18 for voting. It's completely arbritrary. It's conferring no social benefit. It's disenfranchising the young and harming the whole electoral process.

I'm proud to affirm.
KroneckerDelta

Con

At this point, we need to focus on the resolution at hand. Pro has tried to shift the debate to a quite different topic:

"My position today is simple - that 18 is not a justifiable boundary." and "I'd like to have a serious chat to whoever came up with the age of 18 for voting. It's completely arbitrary. "

First, this debate is not over whether or not 18 is the appropriate age to allow one to vote, second, Con actually agrees with Pro that 18 is a fairly arbitrary age and, in fact, Con will show that 18 is probably
too young of an age. But whether or not 18+ is an appropriate age is irrelevant to this debate. This debate is whether or not 15-17 year olds should also have the right to vote. If Con shows that no one under the age of 30 should be allowed to vote, then Con has effectively won this case (as an example). Pro does not need to defend 18+ year olds, but they must show that 15-17 year olds being allowed to debate is better than not allowing them.

Due to space requirements, Con will now present a counter case as to why teenagers (15-17) should not be allowed to vote. In Round 3 Con will present refutations to arguments made by Pro in round 2 (which are mostly circular--i.e. they assume teens make for good voters which will be directly called into question in this round).

I will quickly summarize the points I intend to make. Pro makes the argument that 18 is an arbitrary age--then why do they insist on 15? Why not 14 or 12 or 10 or 5? Pro gives no rationale for when they think one becomes "rational" enough to vote. Next, Pro makes most of their arguments under the presupposed assumption that 15-17 year olds are not irrational (making this argument somewhat circular). Con will make a case that shows, in fact that 15-17 year olds (and even higher ages) are actually scientifically proven to be irrational. Con reminds voters that whether or not 18+ (for instance 18-25) should be allowed to vote is irrelevant to this case, so even if Con makes arguments that 18-25 year olds shouldn't be allowed to vote is irrelevant to this case (if 18-25 shouldn't vote, then clearly 15-17 shouldn't be allowed to vote either).

So what would a country want out of a voter? This is the question that must be answered by Pro, first and foremost. In Con's opinion a voter should be well informed, rational thinking, and have a stake in the outcome of an election. Con will now show that teenagers (15-17) do not meet at least two of these criteria.

1) Teenagers living at home with their parents have less of a stake in the outcome of elections.

I think it's fairly uncontested that the vast majority of teenagers live at home with their parents and do not support themselves. This means teens do not pay taxes (other than sales taxes), do not have an independent stream of income (meaning their contribution via sales tax is actually their parents' money), and do not support themselves. As such, policy decisions about income tax, property taxes, welfare, etc. do not have direct effects on teens.

2) Teens are irrational human beings and their brains are not fully developed.

An ideal voter would be able to make calculated decisions about cause and effect--they would be able to see how complex policies would effect long term outcomes. Unfortunately, teen brains are still developing and this ongoing development makes it difficult for teens to make such judgment decisions.

I would expect most (older) voters to assume this prima facie: that teens are irrational, impulsive, and have very little self control. However, a) this is likely unconvincing to younger voters and b) this sentiment does not make it true! So is there any evidence to support this idea? In fact there is overwhelming scientific evidence to support this idea [1, 2, 3, 4]. This comes from the fact that teenagers rely mostly on their amygdala for decision making whereas adults tend to use their frontal cortex in decision making.

"Their[teenagers] actions are guided more by the amygdala and less by the frontal cortex." [1]

"The researchers found that when processing emotions, adults have greater activity in their frontal lobes than do teenagers. Adults also have lower activity in their amygdala than teenagers. In fact, as teenagers age into adulthood, the overall focus of brain activity seems to shift from the amygdala to the frontal lobes." [2]

"And she says that adults process information in the rational prefrontal cortex. But, in the teen brain, most of the heavy lifting is done by the emotion-oriented limbic center." [3]

"The part of the brain that helps us make logical and rational decisions is just developing in a teen and usually it's not fully functional until the early to mid-20s. " [4]

The amygdala is more associated with impulse reactions and "gut" feelings:

" The frontal lobes are also thought to be the place where decisions about right and wrong, as well as cause-effect relationships are processed. In contrast, the amygdala is part of the limbic system of the brain and is involved in instinctive "gut" reactions, including "fight or flight" responses." [2]

This last quote is particularly important, as it shows that the frontal lobe is where cause-effect relationships are processed. This is paramount in making political decisions! One must understand the effect that certain policies will cause. If they do not, then they are not likely to make for very good voters. As this research suggests, teenagers are not the type of people we want in determining policy through becoming voters. It's not some "arbitrary" age limit--this is scientific evidence to suggest that teenagers are not "mature" enough to make such decisions.

The next problem with allowing teens to vote is that they are not independent thinkers. Teens tend to support whatever their parents support. Again, there is overwhelming evidence to support this fact.

"According to Boquist, "Family is the primary agent of political socialization. It's usually not purposeful and has to do with absorption."" [5]

This shows that while families influence political beliefs, there does not tend to be a rational reason behind it.

"Research shows that children tend to share their parents’ political attitudes—at least while they’re all still living under the same roof, said UW-Madison political science professor Charles Franklin." [6]

Again, notice the important caveat: "at least while they’re all still living under the same roof". This is true of virtually all teenagers from the agers of 15-17.

Finally, there is empirical evidence to show that 70% of children hold the same political belief as their parents. Specifically, 70% of children would vote the same way as their parents (77% for republicans, 71% for democrats, and 61% for independents) [7].

So what does this prove? It shows that allowing teens (15-17) to vote does nothing to increase democracy, rather just works to reward parents with many children and whom tend to strictly enforce their views onto their children. So this essentially has no effect, other than giving parents with children a few extra votes for their particular ideal. Teens will not make independent, well-informed decisions.

Debate Round No. 2
larztheloser

Pro

I thank my opponent for opening their argument.

The problem with the opponent's counter-model is that it's even more arbritrary and irrational than my assumed 18-year-old status quo. It's not problematic to my case at all - just as nothing magic happens when you turn 18, nothing magic happens when you turn 30 either. If anything, the harms I presented of disenfranchisement and lack of change (which, incidentally, are among the many that my opponent has yet to answer) would only be compounded under such a system. In this round, I'll quickly deal with all of the claims my opponent made.

Slippery slope

My opponent asks me why 15 and not 5, only briefly but I think this is an important point so I'll give it its own heading. The reason is simple - we haven't taught 5 year olds politics yet. That would create exactly the same harm of disenfrachisement - giving them a lot of say but not telling them what any of the options mean. That's niether conductive to democracy nor likely to make them better voters. I would support an even younger age if even younger people had already been generally taught the basics of politics, which is true in a limited number of jurisdictions, but in general 15 is a commonly accepted educational standard for when these things are taught.

No stake

The majority of teenagers of that age work (naturally this depends on the country and the definition of work you use, but every statistic is a high number). They may not fully support themselves, but then again, niether do many adults over 30 (that would be the unemployment benefit, or the pension). The idea of economic self-sufficiency being an appropriate standard for voting is a flawed one because: a) if you weren't dependant on the government in some way you would have no stake in it, in which case why are you even voting, and b) what does self-sufficiency have to do with voting anyway? Why can't I make a rational decision even if something doesn't directly affect me?

I further do not conceed that the government's aims are exclusively or even primarily economic. For sure, the economy is a very important thing to take care of, but people's welfare depends on more than simply having lots of green pieces of paper. Everything from health to education is in the government's domain, and for good reason - the government is the one institution responsible for the welfare of the people, being run by the people, and more importantly, for the people. Not just their wallets.

Youth have a stake in government for many reasons. First, they are usually smart enough to rationalise that if their parents lose their jobs, life for them will be slightly tougher. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out. Teenagers are fully capable of thinking about people other than themselves, which is why teenagers have friends and help out charities or churches. Second, many teenagers do not fit the narrow mould of living at their parent's house with no job. Third, governments are about more than just economics. And fourth, teenagers like to think they actually have a life ahead of them as well. Just like many older people vote for those who will give them a better retirement even if they're not looking to retire anytime soon, so too do many teenagers actually think ahead.

The proof of all this can be seen in the fact that young people DO engage politically, quite sensibly, whenever this is open to them as a better avenue than apathy or resistance. That is why programmes like the model UN and European Youth Parliament have been so successful, often simulating better outcomes for the world than what actually happens. A quick glance down the EYP's general poll archives (http://www.eyp.org...) paints a very different picture of youth than the stakeless youth my opponent wanted to talk about.

Irrational/immature

Let us, for a moment, pretend that what my opponent said is true. This is an argument for preventing stupid people from voting. Being smart is not a requirement for voting, even under my opponent's model (yes, there are impulsive 30-year-olds). Moreover, gut instincts are not necessarily stupid. Chess provides a great example of this. Computers can calculate chess moves much better and faster than the human mind ever can, but humans can still beat computers. Why? Because master chess players develop gut instincts about good and bad positions. If analysing the social costs of impacts was the only job of politicians, everyone would have outsourced their jobs to Microsoft a decade ago. There are, however, other things to consider - morality, for instance, cannot be derived by the frontal cortex. And moreover, there's no requirement on voters to have a rational reason for their vote at all. I went to a party last year where I overheard at least three people asking their partners who they should vote for in our then-upcoming election. I'm pretty sure many mentally impaired people quite literally vote for their favourite color.

Even if teenagers were disinclined to use their frontal cortex, there's no reason why they can't be trained to do so. A young chess player may be impulsive, but they can be taught to think about the consequences of their moves in a bit more depth. They might not be able to see as many ends as an older player, but they can rationalise it. Similarly, when an older player points out to them what they could have done, they are able to evaluate that position (much like politicians can point things out to people). It's not like the frontal cortex magically appears when you turn 30.

The fact that teenagers can consider cause and effect is clear. Infants usually work out cause and effect with things like musical toys. A quick look around this website will reveal numerous 15 year olds (and younger!) employing some quite complex lines of original reasoning.

Independant reasoning

Nobody is an entirely independant thinker. We didn't all, for example, independantly invent the language we speak. Independant thinking is a ridiclious qualifier for voting because it could never be enforced (given that there's no duty on those over 30 to think independantly either) and moreover could never even happen. The reason why we have schools at all is the transfer of knowlege (including political knowlege) is fundamental to our society. This is why free political association, broadcast or assembly is so important as a right.

Even so, my opponent's own data proves 30% of young people vote independantly, compared to 40% of adults in the USA (http://www.washingtonpost.com... - by the way, this is a national record) - something that can almost entirely be put down to the youth disenfranchisement I talked about earlier.

Conclusion

The harm I presented in this debate is of the exclusion of too many voices from democracy. The solution is not to deliberately undermine and limit democracy further. We need to eliminate the apathy and consequential incompetence of our governments. The resolution is affirmed.
KroneckerDelta

Con

Let's go through Pro's arguments in round 2 and show why they are almost all irrelevant or invalid.

Engagement

This entire section begs the question: when would Pro allow for one to be legally eligible to vote?

"The reason why youth are often scapegoated as apathetic and disengaged delinquents with no sense of responsibility is because they're excluded from all of these processes."

If being included at age of 18 leaves 15 year olds apathetic, then won't allowing 15 year olds to vote leave 12 year olds apathetic? Why should 12 year olds care, when they cannot vote? So they'll just be trained into being apathetic and thus not vote when they reach the age of 15, just as Pro argues that 15 year olds won't vote when they reach the age of 18 because they have become "accustomed" to being not included.

Education

"15 year olds are politics students."

I would argue this is objectively false. A business student, in the last two years of their college education will focus only on business. A high school student must divide their time between social studies, math, English, foreign language, science, electives, etc. They are not political students, this is one small aspect of many things they are expected to learn. Furthermore, the idea that high school students take any of their classes seriously seems highly suspect to me. I think Pro may be describing advanced students in this regard rather than the general population.

Change

This entire line of arguments are completely irrelevant and highly subjective. Pro argues that "conservatives" (older people) are stuck in their ways and that often time their ways are "bad". Con agrees largely with Pro's points proving this to be the case. However, Pro overlooks two major things: 1) who says that teens who are highly influenced by their "conservative" parents are going to choose anything different and 2) Pro presupposes that teens will make the most moral decisions. The only way Pro's arguments go through for this line of argument is if you already assume that teens make good decisions which I have already proved that they do not.


In conclusion, Con has proved with an abundance of evidence that teenagers are irrational and not capable of making logical, cause-effect decisions like adults are and thus should not be allowed to vote. Furthermore, Con has showed that most of Pro's arguments presuppose that teens would make good voters. For Pro to continue these lines of arguments Pro must actually present evidence to suggest that teens would make good voters (which would require refutation of widely held scientific findings).

Now let's go through Pro's rebuttal in Round 3.

Slippery Slope:

My opponent asks me why 15 and not 5...The reason is simple - we haven't taught 5 year olds politics yet.”

So what about 12 or 14 year olds? Certainly they have be taught about US history and thus politics. Pro chooses to attack the “absurd” example of 5 year olds but completely deflects the case against older children (i.e. 12 or 14 year olds). While I agree that allowing 5 year olds to vote is absurd, most older people will agree it's absurd to allow 15 year olds to vote. So what proof differentiates 15 year olds from, for instance, 12 year olds? It certainly cannot be their knowledge of politics since 12 year olds have had 7+ years of US history (or history in general).

No stake:

Pro makes the extremely wild claim that “The majority of teenagers of that age work”. Con finds this claim very difficult to believe especially considering the evidence of US teenagers, which shows that about 25% of teenagers hold a summer job [8]. Pro should substantiate such claims with evidence.

Pro asks the question: “a) if you weren't [dependent] on the government in some way you would have no stake in it, in which case why are you even voting, and b) what does self-sufficiency have to do with voting anyway?”

This is totally fallacious. First, aren't we all “dependent” on our government; otherwise what is the purpose of government? The key is in paying taxes. If you are the one paying taxes, then surely you “deserve” to have a say as to what those taxes are spent on. Whether or not it directly benefits you is irrelevant—the idea is that taxpayers have earned the right to have a say as to where their taxes are spent. As most teenagers do not pay taxes, they have not earned that right.

Irrational/immature:

Let us, for a moment, pretend that what my opponent said is true. This is an argument for preventing stupid people from voting.

This is a complete misunderstanding of the purpose of this debate. First, none of Con's evidence suggests that teens are “stupid”. It suggests that they, by no fault of their own, are not developed enough (physically) to make rational, cause-effect decisions. Pro now tries to obfuscate this debate by saying that Con's point is to eliminate “stupid” voters. Quite the contrary—such a requirement would, while being good for the country, be infinitely difficult to implement and enforce (i.e. it would require an extreme amount of resources). However, when there is empirical evidence (as Con has already presented) that suggest you can eliminate irrational voters by restricting the age, this seems to be a cheap and reasonable requirement.

Even if teenagers were disinclined to use their frontal cortex, there's no reason why they can't be trained to do so.”

I refer voters to Con's overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary [1, 2, 3, 4] and ask voters to ask the question: what evidence does Pro present to suggest this is possible?

Independant reasoning

Con feels that there is nothing in this line of reasoning that addresses any of Con's concerns. This is mainly just hypothetical arguments that are directly contradicted by Con's previous evidence [5, 6, 7].

Even so, my opponent's own data proves 30% of young people vote independantly, compared to 40% of adults in the USA”

What is Pro's point? That young people are less likely to be independent than adults? This seems to enforce Con's point.



Sources:

[1] http://www.aacap.org...
[2] http://brainconnection.positscience.com...
[3] http://www.tesh.com...
[4] http://www.cnn.com...
[5] http://articles.mcall.com...
[6] http://gazettextra.com...
[7] http://www.gallup.com...

[8] http://www.slate.com...

Debate Round No. 3
larztheloser

Pro

I thank my opponent for this fun and relatively quick debate.

Engagement

My opponent does not actually have a rebuttal to this, so he simply refers to his old slippery slope fallacy. I've maintained throughout the debate that at the point where you have a reason to be engaged with politics, you should be allowed to vote, without going too early (before you have a reason) because of the disenfranchisement. Maybe we're all just really dumb in New Zealand, but basic social studies units on politics are taught at age 13-14, upon completion of which they should be able to vote under my model (age 15). The reason why this is a reasonable compromise is because that's when we grant them the necessary rights and responsibilities to be a politically active member of society at that age, and social studies exists to prepare them for that fact. Of course, I've already conceded that in a minority of countries where teenagers are extra-smart and thus taught politics at an earlier age, they should be allowed to vote earlier as well.

The harms of a disengaged society are sweeping, as I've pointed out in much greater detail in my first round and my opponent does not respond to. Ultimately, the choice is whether age 15 or 30 is a better estimate for when people become politically engaged. I've presented evidence throughout the debate that youth after around age 15 do think politically, and my opponent has presented none to the contrary. The point stands.

Education

My degree is in business, and one of my finals papers was on this very topic (and I went to the most prestigious, top-ranked business school in the country). Business is not an independent discipline. Mathematics, for example, is crucial for business, even though it (in and of itself) has nothing to do with it. Same with science, or engineering, the basis of all the major disruptive technologies. Ethics overlays strongly with business, as does history. Simply because one is not exclusively a business student (something that I think quite irrational, since business always in some way or another depends on other disciplines) does not mean one does not pursue business studiously. And the same goes with politics.

The reason why 15 year olds don't pay attention is because, as I've already explained in great depth in my disengagement point, they are given strong incentives to not pay any attention. People used to wonder why women didn't care much for certain disciplines (for example, law or accounting). People put it down to all kinds of silly, apparently "scientific" explanations about female brains. All of them have now been completely debunked. Turns out that the reason they didn't care is because they had no chances of getting a career in those fields, since there were no other workers of their gender there. A few affirmative action programs later, and now women outnumber men in these fields in many countries. Similarly, give youth the vote, and they'll start paying attention more. I'm glad my opponent concedes that the "advanced" students at age 15 don't even need to do this.

Much of this point has gone unanswered by my opponent as well, such as how I talked in round two about creating incentives to learn more about politics and learn more generally, or about how youth have access to better resources, or about how basic learning theory shows that youth are best placed to make political judgements, or about how youth can be a catalyst for political discourse in the general population. The point is that 15 year olds generally have all the right educational advantages to qualify them to make a more informed decision.

Change

My point was that youth do not accept social orders and seek to break them down. My opponent mostly concedes this argument, but claims that youth will just follow their parents and that these social orders are moral. The latter claim can be easily dismissed as there's no evidence for that. Denying blacks civil rights was a social order, and most people would agree breaking that was morally good. One of the most pernicious social orders today is ageism itself, which needs to stop. In any event, the bias towards conservatism in political discourse is unsettling because it isn't representative. The former claim is empirically not true. Many children would rebel, and my guess is many more would if the cycle of apathy is broken as under my model. But even if the difference would not be made by every person who is now given the vote, it would be a change for the better, since all the remainder would only be reflective of the rest of society.

Slippery slope

History is not political studies. For everything else, see my engagement point.

No stake

Con's 25% figure comes from a blog, which cites an article, which cites some computer model projections, where the computer's most pessimistic prediction was that youth WOULD only have 1/4 employment. It's not a statistic, it's a model. And the article then goes on to describe how this model's prediction is extraordinarily low. And that's just summer jobs - what about all the other forms of employment a teen might have?

Nevertheless it's not relevant, because con has never justified why:
1) voting is an economic decision or has primarily economic impacts
2) teenagers cannot make decisions on behalf of others they care about
3) we should not care about those teenagers that do work, and
4) teenagers cannot think about their future

Con does say that paying taxes gives you the right to vote. Which is incredibly strange, given that he thinks older people are better voters. Pensions are in fact huge drains on tax funds, especially in our aging society - and that's not to mention the massive costs to society of dole bludging, or worse, tax dodging. The fact is that you do not "buy" a right to vote with your money, and any suggestion that taxes are for that purpose would be to completely undermine democracy.

Irrational/immature

Rather than rebut my argument, con chooses to rebut two random sentences of my argument. As to his claim that the science is on his side, his first article agrees with me that teens are quite capable of making good decisions, the second agrees teens make rational decisions (both in the last paragraphs), and the other two are blogs by professional writers. It's an attempt to ignore all my substantive analysis and examples to the contrary (EYP, MUNA etc). For the other claim, that raising the voting age is a "cheap and reasonable equivalent" of barring stupid voters, that depends on who gets to define stupid. I for one don't want to live in a state where people are segregated based on perceived intelligence. The point is democracy is to hear all voices - even those you think are stupid. Was David Yuval, the kid who campaigned against landmines, stupid? Malala Yousafzai, the girl who campaigned tirelessly for girls' education? Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, the greatest martyr of the Arab Spring? It took a lot of guts for adults to take these young people seriously, and they changed the world for the better. Stupid just because they're young? I don't think so. These kids went after the causes and they got the effects.

Independent reasoning

To be a valid argument, pro still needs to show why independent reasoning is a valid excuse for not allowing voting. None of his sources explains how entirely independent reasoning is even possible, and they certainly don't explain why they are a necessary standard for voting.

The point of my 40% figure is that the difference in independent voting (as opposed to reasoning) is very small between youth and adults. The difference is no surprise, given that there is disengagement, and it has nothing to do with independence of thinking. It's simply a sign of an apathetic attitude. I hate it too, but the difference is that con wants to reinforce it - I want it eliminated.

I have a vision that we can live in a society where every voice is heard and respected. That's what I'm standing for in this debate.

The resolution is affirmed.
KroneckerDelta

Con

I also thank Pro for a quick debate—this makes debating much easier.


Con would now like to remind readers of the purpose of this debate. The resolution states that we should lower the legal voting age to 15. For Pro to uphold this resolution they must first and foremost explain why this is beneficial. Pro makes many seemingly convincing arguments for why this would be beneficial to 15-17 year olds but fails to show why it would be beneficial to the country. Also Con has made convincing arguments that this would be detrimental to a democratic society and has backed up these arguments with scientific evidence.


Con will now attempt to summarize the arguments made by Pro and show a) none of the claims are substantiated rather are all hypothesized reasoning and b) Con has refuted many of the claims made by Pro with scientific evidence.

Engagement/Education:

Pro argues that 15-17 year olds become disenfranchised due to not being allowed to vote and that this creates an apathetic view towards voting which may result in them continuing not to vote once they do reach legal voting age.

Con's main argument against this is admittedly partially of an appeal to the absurd which is why Pro characterizes this argument as being a “slippery slope” argument. Furthermore Pro states that in New Zealand students are not taught politics until the age of 13/14 thus 15 is a good age.

This is not a slippery slope argument and while Con does make the argument absurd by going as low as 5 years old, Con does not feel it is absurd to consider 12, 13, or 14 year olds when Pro is making the claim that 15 is the “correct” minimum voting age. Furthermore, anyone familiar with US primary education will note that Government/Economics is generally a senior level course (17/18 years old) and thus would rule out 15 being the minimum age by Pro's own arguments for education.

This is one of many instances where Pro makes a claim but offers nothing but anecdotal evidence or hypothetical arguments. If Pro's claim is that it is generally normal for children to learn politics as early as the age of 13/14, then Pro should have presented evidence to back up that claim. Without evidence, we are left with either New Zealand's educational curriculum or the United States'. This does not help to clarify this argument.

Change:

Pro makes the argument that older generations are more stuck in their ways, making them more likely to promote the status quo as opposed to teens who are more likely to adopt new, novel ways of thinking and thus better policies.

Con presented polling data showing that, in fact, teens are more likely to merely vote however their parents do.

In Con's rebuttal, they attempt to shift the BoP: “To be a valid argument, pro still needs to show why independent reasoning is a valid excuse for not allowing voting.”

Actually Pro's argument, that teens are independent and novel thinkers, has the BoP. Once again, they fail to present such evidence while Con has provided evidence that this is not the case. Pro's one piece of evidence to support this claim is a poll showing that European youth support gay rights at a much higher rate than their older counterparts (http://www.eyp.org... )--which they did not even present as evidence for this particular argument. First this claim presupposes that indeed gay rights are a good thing. While Con agrees, this is not objective reasoning and thus does not support the argument that change is a good thing.

Next lets look at Pro's rebuttals of evidence that Con presented showing that teens do not make for very good voters.

No Stake:

First Pro attempts to attack Con's source which states that only 25% of teens in the US have summer jobs [8].

Pro's major problem with this source is that the number is a model not a statistic. I do not know where Pro gets this idea from or how this refutes the source. Even if we go with the historical high of 60%, this still means a large portion of teens do not work (much higher than for normal adult unemployment of <10% and even underemployment of around 20%).

From the 1950s through the 1990s, between 45 and 60 percent of teenagers had summer jobs” [8]

Furthermore, following a link from this article shows that this is from US Census Data [9].

Even so, Pro makes the claim that this is irrelevant:

Nevertheless it's not relevant, because con has never justified why:
1) voting is an economic decision or has primarily economic impacts
2) teenagers cannot make decisions on behalf of others they care about
3) we should not care about those teenagers that do work, and
4) teenagers cannot think about their future”

First, Con has shown points 2) and 4) to be the case with scientific evidence [1, 2, 3, 4]. I ask readers, what evidence has Pro presented showing these to be true? Furthermore, Con never made the argument 1). Instead Con stated that taxpayers have a right to decide where their money goes—this is not directly related to economic decisions. As for point 3), Con has stated that while some teens do work, the majority (or at the least a large portion), do not.

Irrational/Immature:

This argument comes down to evidence. Con has made the claim that teen brains are still developing and that studies have shown that they primarily use their amygdala as opposed to their frontal cortex when making decisions. This hinders them from making correct cause-effect decisions. This means teens are not likely to understand the ramifications of their political decisions.

Pro's only rebuttal to this evidence is to present hypotheticals intended to refute sound scientific evidence. I don't think comparing Early 20th century “neuroscience” with modern neuroscience research is a valid argument (i.e. saying people argued women's/African Americans' brains were inferior—they merely stated this fact, there was no scientific evidence to back it up as I have presented for teen brains).

I think the evidence vs. non-evidence speaks for itself. Con has presented numerous sources—what sources has Pro offered to support their arguments?

In conclusion, this debate comes down to evidence. Pro has made elegant pleas as to why teens should be allowed to vote. However, all of Pro's arguments hinge on one single assumption: teens will make good voters. Con has presented overwhelming evidence to support the idea that a) teens are irrational and thus cannot make good political decisions and b) teens are likely to just vote the same as their parents anyway. I will end with a quote from one of my sources which I think hammers home the idea that 15-17 year olds, living at home with their parents, are not likely to make independent decisions.

By the end of the high school years, there’s a “high point of agreement” between parents and children, he said.

But during the college years, children who no longer live with their parents are “pretty malleable,” subject to influence from peers, the media and current events and issues, Franklin said.” [6]



Sources:

[1] http://www.aacap.org...
[2] http://brainconnection.positscience.com...
[3] http://www.tesh.com...
[4] http://www.cnn.com...
[5] http://articles.mcall.com...
[6] http://gazettextra.com...
[7] http://www.gallup.com...

[8] http://www.slate.com...

[9] http://online.wsj.com...

Debate Round No. 4
282 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Andy99 4 years ago
Andy99
Voting age should be increased to 25 !!!!!

So a person can't drink till he is 21 but can vote when he is 18, does that make sense?

One of the biggest flaws of Democracy is that its based on Majority, it doesn't care about Minority. So to keep a smart Democracy we need to allow only people who have awareness of how things work in this world. So in a Democracy, if 51% of the population decides that everyone should eat Broccoli the rest 49% are forced to eat Broccoli.

Try experimenting with Democracy in your homes. Lets say you have 3 children. If all 3 children say that everyone should go to Disney World every week, it doesn't matter what the minority (parents) think. They will have to take the kids to Disney World every week !!!! So if Democracy doesn't work in your homes why do you want not-so-smart people to run the country as a Democracy.
Posted by Mandavb515 4 years ago
Mandavb515
The voting adage should stay at 18. Most fifteen year olds really don't care whether or not who runs the country and their votes will be influenced to who their parents vote for.
Posted by HuskyFastpitch1998 4 years ago
HuskyFastpitch1998
Can't younger people's votes be more influenced by their peers?
Posted by larztheloser 4 years ago
larztheloser
"If they change their minds by the time they are 18 (or older), then this is justification on why they shouldn't vote yet."

Why? Because only conservatives should be allowed to vote?

"Ok, it might be dangerous/bad/whatever you want to call it."

Or it might be highly beneficial. Democracy in general is the same.
Posted by KroneckerDelta 4 years ago
KroneckerDelta
If they change their minds by the time they are 18 (or older), then this is justification on why they shouldn't vote yet.

KD: "they go against mainstream thought therefore are dangerous"
Larz: "non-sequiter"

Ok, it might be dangerous/bad/whatever you want to call it. I could say the same thing about most of your arguments.
Posted by larztheloser 4 years ago
larztheloser
"It's not saying teens will NEVER be able to vote, it's saying that they just can't vote yet, but they will be able to in the future."

Teens don't think that far ahead.
Posted by larztheloser 4 years ago
larztheloser
"I see ideas that are put forth by other people that teens are clinging to--NOT synthesizing themselves."

What makes you think that? Because I think that about older voters, stealing ideas from the youth.

"they go against mainstream thought therefore are dangerous"

non-sequiter

"they are clinging to ideas that other young people have (i.e. 20-30 year olds) thus it makes no difference whether or not they are allowed to vote."

difference to the popularity of ideas, since source also shows that youth have difference of opinion with what's actually happening in Europe's parliaments.

"they can merely take those positions when they gain the right to vote."

Unless, of course, they change their minds by then.
Posted by KroneckerDelta 4 years ago
KroneckerDelta
Also, you brought up the idea of women's suffrage and blacks' right to vote. This is a totally different issue. When it comes to women or blacks being able to vote, it's a matter of disenfranchising them ALWAYS (for the entirety of their life). When it comes to "disenfranchising" teens, it's different. It's not saying teens will NEVER be able to vote, it's saying that they just can't vote yet, but they will be able to in the future.
Posted by KroneckerDelta 4 years ago
KroneckerDelta
I don't see any "novel" ideas in your polls. I see ideas that are put forth by other people that teens are clinging to--NOT synthesizing themselves.

As I see it there are two ways to interpret those polls:

1) they go against mainstream thought therefore are dangerous and thus teens shouldn't be allowed to vote.
2) they are clinging to ideas that other young people have (i.e. 20-30 year olds) thus it makes no difference whether or not they are allowed to vote.
Posted by KroneckerDelta 4 years ago
KroneckerDelta
...too bad, I would much rather argue about something I actually know a lot about...

"Are you saying that the arguments advanced by the teens in the surveys I cited aren't rational?"

What exactly are all of the issues in your source? This is hard to follow: http://www.eyp.org...

(this is the source you are talking about right?)

It's hard to argue what is rational vs. irrational. When it comes to politics, virtually any position is "rational". It's not so much the position they take as it is do they understand the long term consequences of the position they take or are they just taking those positions because 1) they immediately benefit themselves (like being against stricter control of internet) or 2) they are just taking a popular position. Surely you will NOT disagree that teens are particularly susceptible to peer pressure. Again, if you argue that older folks have the same issues, then you are just arguing for the status quo (again, least harm)--it all gets back to whether or not there is evidence to NOT allow them to vote, and I think I have presented such evidence.

I can argue for or against most of those things. I mean I could argue against gay marriage--I don't want to--but I could easily if we expanded marriage to mean it should be ONLY between two people that intend to and/or can procreate. I would prefer to leave that topic off of the table. Even so, I would argue many of the positions that you claim teens take are very similar to positions that 20-30 year olds take. So I don't see the relevance--they can merely take those positions when they gain the right to vote.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by WesternGuy2 4 years ago
WesternGuy2
larztheloserKroneckerDeltaTied
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Total points awarded:33 
Reasons for voting decision: It was close, and I had to vote on a low point win towards the con from the undeveloped brains No matter how much you try to develop them, they still are not developed 15 is too young 17 is a better age
Vote Placed by dylancatlow 4 years ago
dylancatlow
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Reasons for voting decision: First off, the debate had a horrible resolution. It did not clarify which country we're talking about here. Second, Con had much better arguments than Pro. Pretty much Pro had a shell of an argument that has as its only real substance 'fifteen-year-olds make good decisions,' of which Con gave a very reasonable case against. Counter vote to bigsky2 for conduct point
Vote Placed by LaL36 4 years ago
LaL36
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro simply convinced me that 18 was too old and that 15 is fine and that the kids are educated enough.
Vote Placed by BigSky 4 years ago
BigSky
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Reasons for voting decision: Con made the better argument, and had like 20 more sources to support his argument. Plus he voted for me on like three of mine so I feel a little obligated.