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Posted at 06:32 PM ET, 03/07/2011

Don’t limit college students’ voting! Stop old people!

They're unstoppable! They come flooding into the polls with an overwhelming sense that their way is right and a total lack of mooring in what's actually happening on the ground. They listen to strange music. They dress in funky sweaters I hope are ironic. Their political views are strongly predicted by their age.

Because of these people, as New Hampshire State Representative Gregory Sorg said, the votes of average taxpayers are being "diluted or entirely canceled by those of a huge, largely monolithic demographic group ... focused on remaking the world, with themselves in charge, of course, rather than with the mundane humdrum of local government."

College students?

Please! I'm talking about the elderly.

Across the country, legislators are attempting to restrict the ability of college students to vote, putting forth bills that would establish more onerous residency laws and require state IDs rather than college ones. "Voting as a liberal," New Hampshire state House Speaker William O'Brien said. "That's what kids do." The new bills would stop that.

But before they go any further, I think another group deserves this sort of attention: Old People.

Once you're 65, I think you should stop voting. Kicking the bucket? More like passing the buck!

Sorry, Grandma. But this is too important to leave to the Greatest Generation. You did a good job dealing with the problems of your time. But now it's up to us.

Here's the fundamental problem with elderly people voting. They have, broadly speaking, no incentive to make any sacrifices or enact any reforms, well, ever. You know the complaint about how, with regard to pension reform, elected officials have been kicking the can down the road because by the time things take effect, they will be out of office?

By the time anything Old People want has to be paid for, they will have -- how to put this? -- hopped the twig. Begun pushing up daisies. Relocated to a better place. (Not Boca. The other one.)

Sure, college students may not think about consequences. But compared to old people, they're pikers! After all, nothing says, "I don't really have to worry about whether bending the health-care cost curve will work" like "I am pretty sure I will be deceased come 2045."

It's not that I don't love the elderly. I honor my elders. I prefer the old and tried to the new and untried. I have never, to my knowledge, engaged in elder abuse, except one time when my middle school choir sang at an old persons' home and several people died specifically to escape our handbell rendition of "Alexander's Ragtime Band."*

But I have to say, it doesn't seem fair. "Don't let students vote! They're liberal!" Well, sure. But where are the campaigns that scream, "Don't let old people vote! They're conservative!" If they don't exist, I'm starting one.

It's not merely that the old tend to be conservative: it's that they're irresponsible. Old People never have any incentive not to kick the can down the road. They join a specialized coterie of people I don't believe should be voting: the moribund, the already deceased (insert obvious Chicago joke here) and people who earnestly believe that the Rapture is about to happen and they will be snatched away by The Man Upstairs. If you don't think you'll be around by the time these things take effect, please, don't vote.

"Don't let college students vote!" people yell. "They don't really know how things work! They lack life experience! They're full of newfangled ideals, and probably one or two controlled substances!"

"Don't let old people vote!" I retort. "They don't really understand how things work these days! No matter what you are talking about, they insist on comparing it to the Great Depression! They refer to Google as 'the Google,' which makes it sound like something that follows you around in 19th-century Warsaw bringing misfortune. They're full of old-fashioned ideals, and probably Metamucil."

Is this ageism? Fine, it's ageism. But so was what you said -- the specific form of ageism known as Collegestudentism. Yes, college students are traditionally liberal. They're young and unseasoned, like certain types of veal. They are so socially liberal that you sometimes see them attempting to enter civil unions with dead halibut, just to prove a point.

But how is that worse than being old, jaded, and surgically attached to the status quo because of something irregular that happened during a hip replacement?

We may not understand how local politics work. We may be more liberal than we should be, demographically speaking. But the solution is not to keep us young people from voting.

After all, we're the ones who will be paying for this!

*On a side note, why do people think performing at the homes of the elderly is a community service? I know they don't want to be forgotten, but I'd rather be forgotten than forced to spend what's left of my life listening to the AdHoc Opera Troupe attempt to perform "Tosca" and "Madame Butterfly" simultaneously because the pianist got confused and the tenor couldn't tell the difference.

This is yet another illustration of the discrepancy. People don't view performing at colleges as a form of community service. If you perform on college campuses, it is generally a sign that people are willing to come see you and find what you have to say somewhat relevant. If you perform for elderly people, it is generally a sign that you would not be able to attract an audience that was capable of walking away.

By  |  06:32 PM ET, 03/07/2011

Tags:  America, college, oops, kids these days, voting, age

 
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