With the formation of the Constitution of the United States of America, our forefathers laid down the foundation for which our country should be built upon. This foundation was full of good ideology and intentions. However, the Constitution was far from perfect. As society progressed over the years, there have been many additions and corrections to the Constitution. These corrections are called constitutional amendments. There have been a total of 27 ratified amendments, a majority of them protecting the civil liberties and rights of U.S. citizens.
It is at this point of time in our society where we must correct another imperfection in the United States Constitution. This time we are focusing on the civil rights of young adults who have been openly discriminated against since the ratification of the Constitution in 1789. This petition specifically focuses on the minimum age requirements for candidacy in the House of Representatives and the Senate, which are currently set at twenty five and thirty years of age, respectively.
We, the people of the United States of America, petition for a constitutional amendment to lower the minimum age requirements for candidacy in both the House of Representatives and the Senate to the age of eighteen years.
REASONS FOR LOWERING THE AGE MINIMUM:
All U.S. citizens deserve an equal opportunity to pursue candidacy for elected representative positions. The United States is a Democratic Government, where we hold free and fair elections to choose representation for the people. Free and fair elections means that anyone can run, everyone can vote, and there is equal opportunity for all individuals. The only way to truly have free and fair elections is to allow any and all U.S. citizens the opportunity to run for elected positions. Running for office should be a fundamental right that everyone deserves. That right is being directly violated by the current age restrictions on elected offices.
Singling out young adults and treating them differently, with no justification, is discrimination. Young adults have been plagued with unfavorable stereotypes that lead to others discriminating against them based on unjustified opinions. The qualities and actions of some individuals in a group of society does not permit legal acts of discrimination against the whole group. Therefore, questions of qualifications, experience, and maturity cannot be used as justification for singling out young adults.
Qualifications for candidacy is to be determined by voters not by mandate. The basis of which age restrictions are set, are on the assumptions of the candidates qualifications. Our Constitution does not require candidates to meet any qualifications to run for elected offices. It is up to the voters to determine which candidates are best suited for each position. Voters should be given full trust in deciding appropriate and qualified candidates.
The minimum age of candidacy must be set at 18 years of age and no higher. When children transition into adulthood, they gain all the rights and responsibilities of being an adult. For most states, that age is 18. In becoming an adult, one obtains the right to vote, must register for selective service (if male), has the right to be in the military, has the responsibility of jury duty, and is held legally accountable for one's own actions. It is at this point that treating individuals differently than other adults, based on age, would be discrimination. The right to run for candidacy is equal to the right to vote. It is a right that all Americans deserve to have.
The young voters of America deserve the opportunity for equal representation. Currently, there is a group of young voters with no representation in congress. They deserve the opportunity to vote for candidates that truly represent them. They deserve the opportunity to elect young representatives that will express their needs and wants. Congress is suppose to represent all the people, not just certain factions. No one should be excluded the opportunity to run in representation of their faction of society. This petition is not only fighting for the rights of candidacy but for the rights of voters. Voters deserve free and fair elections where they have the opportunity to cast their vote for any kind of candidate.
BENEFITS OF YOUNG QUALIFIED CANDIDATES:
1. Having a few young elected candidates in congress would better represent all of the people of the United States.
2. Since young adults are the generation of the future, candidates would most likely come up with solutions for today that do not create problems for tomorrow.
3. Young adults are constantly receiving a more updated education than those who came before them. New discoveries lead to improvements in the quality of education. Also, college education is becoming more current and accurate to the social and economic environments of today.
4. Younger generations can offer new and different perspectives. Young adults often think differently from other adults and would provide alternative viewpoints to issues. Good decision making always involves the contribution of multiple points of views.
5. Many people can agree that there is too much money in politics. Younger candidates are less likely to have ties with large corporations, and many have not already been corrupted by greed.
6. This amendment will encourage the youth to get more involved in politics, in both an active role and in means of voting.
COMMON ARGUMENTS AGAINST THIS PETITION:
1. Positions in Congress require great responsibility, experience, and maturity. Candidates must be of an age capable of those qualities.
Response: Responsibility, experience, and maturity are qualities that are not gained at a certain age. Every individual person achieves them at different points in their lives. There are many adults over the age of thirty who are still not mature or responsible, and there are many adults under twenty five who do posses those qualities. This argument is an issue of the qualifications of candidates. If you wanted to prevent people not qualified from running, then laws would have to be passed restricting candidacy based on qualifications and not age. However, since we hold free and fair elections, and it is ultimately up to the voters to decide which candidates are suited for office or not, there are no restrictions to candidacy based on qualifications. Voters are given the responsibility to make sure they elect someone that is capable of holding office.
2. Maybe it should be lowered, but not to eighteen. Eighteen is just too young.
Response: It understandable that many Americans have a perception of certain ages of society just being too young. These are opinions that anyone can rightfully have. But what they must understand is that they are just opinions, and other people may have different opinions than them. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and everyone is entitled the opportunity to vote based on those opinions. No matter what age we lower the minimum requirement to, unless it is 18, there will always be adults out there being discriminated against. You have to know where the appropriate place to cast your opinion is and we must remember that everyone in America deserves equal opportunity.
3. Lowering the age limit will not make a difference. Society is still not going to vote anyone young into office.
Response: It already has made a difference. In 1934, the people of West Virginia elected Rush Holt to the Senate. He was only 29 years of age at the time, and had to wait till his 30th birthday, six months after the start of the session, to be sworn in. There have also been three times in the United States history where U.S. Senators were elected and sworn in under the age of 30. This happened between the years 1806 to 1818 because the age restrictions were not carefully examined or verified at that point in history. The age restrictions are always going to make a difference. There will always be people who fall under the age minimum who are not being given equal opportunity.
4. People wanting to run for office should just wait till they are old enough.
Response: An injustice, no matter how big or small, cannot be ignored. Discrimination is discrimination, and there is no justification for allowing it to continue. Also, as previously stated, there could be benefits to young candidates. Ultimately, all people are different and may get the calling to run for office at different stages in their lives. Some make a career out of politics. Some wait till they have become successful. And then there are others that want to take part early in their life before they continue on in whatever other direction they choose. For some young individuals, it is now or never. The early years in someone's adult life has major impact in shaping their future. It is a turning point in everyone's lives where options that are available can set them on different paths in their lives.
Signing this petition does not mean you think that 18-year-olds should be senators and representatives. It means you believe in free and fair elections. Signing this petition means you are against discrimination. Signing this petition means that you understand the importance of upholding what America stands for, equality of all people, and their rights to equal opportunity.