- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 21, 2013


The City Council in Takoma Park, Md., prides itself as living on the cutting edge of liberalism. The small town bristles at life in the left-leaning shadow of the District of Columbia, and often tries to go one small step further left. Takoma Park has declared itself a “nuclear-free zone” and a “sanctuary city” for illegal aliens. Foie gras is banned in restaurants (goose rights are taken very seriously), and grocery stores are urged to sell only eggs from happy-go-lucky “cage-free” chickens.

Last week, Takoma Park became the first town in America to lower the legal age for voting in municipal elections from 18 to 16.

This Montgomery County community has never been picky about who can cast a ballot on Election Day. Even people who aren’t American citizens are welcome. So why not lower the bar of the franchise still further? This year teenagers, next year nursery school kids on the rope line. The latest change permits same-day voter registration and grants felons who’ve served their terms the right to vote in local elections. This will expand the Democratic base to cover a key constituency.

It’s not clear why they’re doing this, since there’s no discernible burst of civic-mindedness among minors, felons and illegal aliens in the city. The comics at ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” sometime exploit this phenomenon by sending camera crews onto the streets to ask passers-by, mostly young people, questions about basic civics, showcasing ignorance for amusement. Passersby were lately asked what they thought of President Obama’s nomination of TV’s “Judge Judy” to the U.S. Supreme Court. Nobody on the highlight reel thought the question was a joke, perhaps because they thought Judge Judy sounded about right for an Obama selection.

Voters 16 and 17 years old have no “skin in the game,” even if they’re well enough informed to cast an intelligent vote (as some no doubt are). They’re more likely to know who Judge Judy is than any actual member of the Supreme Court. In a Time magazine cover story, “The Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation,” writer Joel Stein notes that in a 2007 survey “three times as many middle-school girls want to grow up to be a personal assistant to a famous person as want to be a senator.”

Ultimately, the joke is on the educated voter, since the votes of the uninformed, young or not, count just as much as those of everyone else. The franchise is both expanded and diluted. Only in Takoma Park.

The Washington Times

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