The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Amendment XXVI

Section 1.

The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.

Section 2.

The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Perhaps you will think that because I’m older (and you probably think crotchety as well), I decided to write this post.  Well, I am older than I used to be and I would hope my bubbly upbeat personality and rosy view of life will dispel the other issue from your minds.  But I just decided to write on the subject because I haven’t put up anything very controversial lately – and I was in the mood for doing so.  Call it personal whimsy.

LBJ’s explosive expansion of the war in Viet Nam in the mid – late ‘60’s ignited one of the greatest hell fires of division in American society that we had seen since the Civil War.  The college protests against the war were viewed by mainstream America as being nothing more than a few radical leftists who were lucky to live in a country where freedom of speech was a part of our heritage.  Most Americans supported our war effort.

Soldiers started coming home in body bags, mothers lost sons and sisters lost their brothers.  The attitude of Americans shifted from one of support for the war as more “non-radical”, mainstream people were personally affected by the mounting number of American deaths.

It was from this climate that we began considering the issue of whether, for the fourth time we should expand the right to vote by extending this to 18 year olds.  The mantra of the day was, “If you’re old enough to die for your country, you’re old enough to vote.”   In 1971 the amendment was passed and ratified.

When the Constitution was written, the average life expectancy was approximately 35 years.  By the time the 16th amendment was adopted, that had increased to about 75 years.  (As an interesting side note, in the last 43 years, despite all our medical advances, the current expectation is approximately 80 years).

So a young man in the newly constituted United States of America might be able to vote in only seven congressional elections and three presidential elections before he went into the great beyond.  Given the short life spans, establishing an age of maturity of 21 seemed to be rather a high bar – intended to insure that people who were sufficiently mature and informed would be the participants in the voting process.  With the lack of universal mandatory education, it is reasonable to believe that not every voter was as well informed as the Founding Fathers might have hoped.

Americans have been both blessed by and suffered from out relative size and our location on the globe.  We have been blessed because we are generally isolated from hostile governments and have been spared incursions by them on our home soil.  We have suffered because our isolation has kept up generally insulated from an understanding of what is happening in much of the world as the following video demonstrates:

Okay.  I’ve tried to offer an explanation for why we may not be as well informed as we should with respect to foreign events.  But that is hardly an excuse for our lack of information about basic facts regarding our own nation:

In reviewing these two videos, it should be apparent that age is no respecter of stupidity.  So no matter what age we deem a person to be “eligible” to vote, it is apparent that is no guarantee that the citizen so empowered will exercise good judgment in exercising that right.

I would like to reiterate my belief that while voting might be a “right,” its intelligent exercise is a responsibility.  I have previously suggested that all voters, irrespective of age be tested – say once every 10 years – to make sure that their cognitive functions are still operational.  By that I mean that they be able to meet the same standard of scoring at least 58 correct answers out of the 99 questions as we require of those who apply for citizenship.  I have provided the link to “The Christian Science Monitor’s” citizenship test so that you may review your own knowledge of America and American history.

Good luck.  NO GOOGLING.  And no talking among yourselves.  Grab your pencils, open your test books – GO!


  1. I did not support the 26th Amendment when it was passed, and I don’t support it now. I was a young man serving in the Air Force at the time, and I thought the touted “If. . . fight, then . . . vote” was totally false logic. I was not popular.

  2. I have to admit that I missed one. Picked Haiti instead of Guam in answer to the question about a US Territory. Guess I need to spend some time in (or around) the Gulf. 😉

    • I took this about a year ago so I don’t know if the questions have been modified. I also missed one. That question was whether or not 18 year old males still had to register for the draft. Originally, I said yes and then changed it to no. So what they taught me about sticking with your first answer proved correct after all.

  3. I’m somewhat amazed. It reminds me of when my daughter who had her education in the Napa Valley was travelling on vacation with a car load of students to LA. One of the girls asked where she lived and she replied Singapore. To which the girl replied, “are we dropping you off on the way?” I was alarmed to find out that some of those respondents placed North Korea here in my homeland Australia!!! Please! I don’t want to climb on a refugee boat at my age. lol

    • It is truly startling how parochial some of us Yanks are. As to the boat – we’ve reserved special accomodations for you in a deluxe suite.

      And you’re right – that girl was foolish. I’m pretty certain that there’s bus service from LA that your daughter could have taken to get to Singapore.

  4. Well, OK. It’s rather superficial, quite revisionist and occasionally wrong, and some questions have more than one right answer, but not bad for 7th grade civics.

    I still think if you don’t pay NET federal taxes you should lose the right to vote in federal elections. Same for state elections, everybody voting needs to have skin in the game, not voting for their own paycheck.

    And yes I missed one too, why do we give people 7 years to register for selective service, they start losing the age qualification for some services at 27.

    • Well, you have to consider that the test is prepared by government bureaucrats – so I don’t think it’s bad.

      But the question on the Selective Service proves one liberal claim. There is a war on women. We don’t let them register.

      • I agree, it’s not bad, just could be so much better.

        Huh, You’re right on the SS question. Silly government, everybody deserves that wonderful experience. 🙂

      • Perhaps I was overtired when I read the ACA but I do believe I saw a great equalizer that’s coming. I forget if it was for 2016 or 2017. Apparently, in the interest of fairness, men are going to be required to enjoy the same experience that women go through every 28 days. But I may have to double check that. It was late when I got to this passage and my mind was somewhat overwhelmed with all the jibberish I had digested earlier.

      • I’ll admit that I haven’t (and don’t intend to) read it. My mind can handle only so much gobbledygook, and people I trust have read it. Most likely you’re right, the lefts ‘genius’ is in making one size fits all (very badly). It always reminds me that it took industrialization of the footwear industry (during the Civil War) to realize that our feet would benefit from shoes made for the left foot and the right foot, instead of one kind fits all.

        That’s one of many examples of why I say the left is trying to roll history back to medieval times. Nasty, Brutish, and short comes to mind but, they don’t seem to realize it wasn’t really much better for the aristocracy.

        if we’re not careful, they will learn the hard way, and so:

        As a dog returns to its vomit…

  5. As much as I agree that there should be a cognitive function test or as Neo stated meet a certain income requirement, I think it would also be terrible for the system. (Broken as it may be.) Either of these would just give the power to control who can and who cannot vote. All the political parties would have to do is tweak the requirements to weed out the “bad voters”. Attacks on the Tea Party or 1%’rs for example.

    As far as age goes, I think we may try a round or two with you must be under the age of 18 to vote. The kids may surprise us. (This was an attempt at humor, however may have some validity to it.)

    • As long as people remain imperfect and with their own agendas (which might be some long while yet), there will be nothing that is perfect regarding voting or anything else.

      While I realize that having a driver’s license is a “privilege” it is a privilege which, if misued, can result in the death of other motorists or innocent bystanders. We do not consider it unreasonable to require that people periodically be re-tested to verify their skills and knowledge. My suggestion for using the citizenship test seemed as though it would be a good starting point at least.

      However, the truth is that most of our politicians do not want an intelligent electorate simply because it might endanger their potential for re-election.

      Thanks for your comment.

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