Tonight I spoke with a Canadian radio broadcast from B.C. about lowering the national voting age there. It seems there is a conference of municiple leaders there, and they have a serious proposal on the table to suggest the federal parliment to lower the voting age.
Its always strange being a talking head, disconnected from the breadth or extent of my work to oversimplify the necessity of universal suffrage for all citizens in a democracy. Its particularly wierd for me to talk with Canadians about this, for a few reasons. Aside from being a voting Canadian myself, I think its kind of strange that a country that is so fragile and influence-able as Canada is seriously considering this radical step.
Giving young people the vote inherently acknowledges their social disenfrachisement, which is, of course, footed in the systematic denial of rights meant to subjegate young people. While Ivan Illich and John Taylor Gatto have explained it far better than I ever could, the basic notion here is that American capitalism relies on the continued oppression of children and youth. While I would not go so far as to wholly agree with them, there is some truth in the argument that if young people were given the freedom to choose what to do with their days – if they were seen as valid, capable, and responsible enough to make those decisions – would they actually choose to participate in the structures that have confined their very essence for more than 60 years? Schools, youth programs, and government agencies of all sorts would be forced to transform their staid historical approaches to working with youth into practical, relevant, and powerful opportunities that young people actually want to participate in! What a vision!
Regardless, I can’t expound on any of that in a 10 minute radio interview shared with another talking head.
Despite that, I feel I was able to represent the cause fairly, especially because Alex from NYRA has provided so many great recordings of his speeches online. Thanks man. And thanks to Public Eye Radio for seeking me out – anything to spread the message that young people are leading social change around the world.