Lyman Stone is a pro-family scholar affiliated with the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute. A prolific writer and Lutheran missionary, his work has lately graced the pages of America’s Gray Lady, the New York Times. In his recent missive to that paper, he advocates giving children the right to vote – all children, regardless of age. He argues that such a measure would be a long-overdue corrective measure:
…if we simply apply the same principles to children that we apply throughout the rest of our democracy, the logical conclusion is obvious: The voting age should be “at birth,” and parents should be able to provide whatever degree of assistance is necessary to enable their children to have their interests represented. That a child is too young to speak or walk is no argument against child voting, since many other nonverbal, immobile people who need daily assistance are also allowed to vote.
This is an intriguing idea. Yes, children are not getting a fair shake in the US or in any globalist regime. The reason is that globalism values everything solely on the basis of economic utility — sort of like Marxism with a government-subsidised corporate sector thrown in. Importing more consumers to prop up the economy is much easier than raising fertility. It doesn’t work in the long term, and ultimately destroys social cohesion. But that doesn’t matter to globalists.
Yet the materialist/consumerist globalist mindset has thoroughly set in among the population. Children are not a priority. We are having fewer of them. They are expensive, get in the way of career advancement and are a hassle. They don’t fit with a hedonistic lifestyle. That is how many have come to look at it. We are prisoners of our earthly ambitions.
It was demographer Paul Demeny who first proposed children having the vote back in 1986, his reasoning being that doing so would boost flagging fertility, as family size would have a political impact. This political clout would lead to pro-family laws. Ahead of his time, Demeny said, “Old people are currently the coalition that have a huge inbuilt advantage in representative democratic politics.”
Do they ever!
In a true democracy, children voting would certainly make a difference. But the United States is not a democracy, nor has it ever been one. This is a major reason Demeny’s idea, so astutely outlined by Mr Stone, may be a non-starter. Bear with me on this.
In 1787, as delegates left the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, an elderly lady asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin replied, “A republic– if you can keep it.”
America was founded as a democratic republic. Not as a democracy. That is a huge distinction overlooked by many among that shrinking segment of Americans who are even aware of Benjamin Franklin.
Now how does this relate to Mr. Stone and his far-sighted idea about giving children the vote? My bone to pick with him is not one of policy but of politics.
The more Mr. Stone and his colleagues in the commentariat tell us that the US is a democracy, the more people believe it. This false belief that our government is in any way democratic aside from the biennial pay-to-play slugfests known as elections bolsters its legitimacy. This is a huge disservice to American families because it deludes people into believing that what ails them can be remedied at the ballot box. Sadly, that is not the case. American families need to wake up and understand that they do not live in a democracy or a republic. We live in an empire with weakened democratic institutions that have a quite limited impact.
The US claims to have a representative government while children and generations unborn are saddled with crushing public debt, which will profoundly impact their lives. They have had no representation in this whatsoever. The American political class decided long ago to import new consumers to prop up the system rather than make life easier for families. And they continue to pile debt upon more debt. Not a fair shake for children.
Is a democracy or a democratic republic doing this? No.
The executive branch blithely ignores popular sentiment. The legislating judiciary frequently negates measures passed by popular vote or elected officials. Big Tech, functioning as a quasi-governmental public utility like the old telephone companies, bans and censors people at will.
As one who once toiled in the seat of the empire, I can tell you what the children of America need in order to wring any measure of consideration from the powers that be: a lobby.
Not just a lobbyist, but a full-blown children’s lobby to be known as the Family Lobby. If you don’t have a lobby in DC, you’re out of luck. Middle-class taxpayers don’t have a lobby. Look what has happened to them. Special interests have lobbies — just look at how well Big Tech, Big Pharma and the defence contractors make out.
Meanwhile the American standard of living continues to decline. The pro-natalist agenda needs a lobby that knows how to fight in the swamp of public policy formulation. Pro-family advocates need to get pragmatic. There is an old saying that two things you don’t want to see made are sausages and laws. Believe me, it gets ugly to get anything done.
Giving children the franchise to be exercised through their families would certainly shake things up. But it is naïve to believe that this has any chance of being enacted. The well-being of society’s children does not concern our ruling elite. Mr Stone’s sentiments are noble. But children will not get the vote in America — at least under the current system of government.
The thinking in early America was that to have a say in society one should have a stake in it. Materially, this manifested in the property qualification for enfranchisement. Morally, this manifested in strong families. The family has more of a stake in society than any racial, ethnic, business, professional or educational lobby. Families are the building blocks of society upon which the prosperity and well-being of all else depends. You can’t fool Mother Nature.
Once upon a time American government was family-centred. Society was overwhelmingly comprised of nuclear families. The male head of the family voted on behalf of the family. When a son reached adulthood he was expected to head his own family and he would cast a ballot for them. The system was actually “one man, one vote”.
While the woke among us would regard such an arrangement as beyond evil — patriarchal, for starters — that is simply the way it was.
Over time emphasis shifted from families to individuals. “A nation of individuals” was a mantra by the early 20th century. Hyper-individualism leads to a contagion of being out for number one. We see this in the “greed is good” ethos. We see this when one individual decides they are somehow offended and the majority must curtail their freedom of expression and modify their lifestyle to accommodate them.
In his 1978 Harvard University Commencement Address, Alexander Solzhenitsyn noted that in America “The defense of individual rights has reached such extremes as to make society as a whole defenseless against certain individuals. It is time, in the West, to defend not so much human rights as human obligations.”
The chattering class dumped Solzhenitsyn.
Now we’ve moved on from individualism to group entitlement, aka identity politics. Affirmative action, goals, quotas, and “equity” (as opposed to fairness) deny highly qualified people jobs and university admissions. Families nurture and educate their children only to see their generation-long sacrifice dismissed when their children are denied equal opportunity. The nuclear family is the Number One casualty of political correctness.
What America really needs is a spiritual rebirth. It will only happen when people are ready for it. A divided and confused multicultural society currently lacks the social cohesion to throw off the yoke of a family-unfriendly regime.
So I will join with Mr Stone in calling for the rights of children to be represented — through their families. Giving children the right to vote would be one way to do it. But a robust, proactive Family Lobby should first fiercely advocate for family-friendly incentives similar to those enacted in Hungary.
It can be done. A retrenchment of empire is certainly worth saving the American family. Why should there be a military presence in 150 countries when the homeland deteriorates? It is all a question of priorities.
The cardinal rule of American politics is that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. That is how the big lobbies as well as Black Lives Matter and the PC anti-monument types have been winning of late. They act up, politicians cave, laws are not enforced. In today’s America, these sorts of tactics are much more effective than voting. Some democracy!
Middle-class taxpayers and pro-family types are busy working and taking care of their families, so they usually don’t take their complaints to the streets. Perhaps there is a lesson in that. But for now, the best strategy is to beat the family-unfriendly globalists at their own game. We need that lobby.