Amid all the Trumpery this week (was ever a name so perfect? The Oxford English Dictionary defines trumpery as ‘showy but worthless’, deriving from the French word tromper, ‘to deceive’), a class of teens in a County Offaly school made a great argument for lowering the voting age to 16. Their honesty and self-awareness during a workshop on global development could teach us older fogies a thing or five. In a debate about prejudice, nearly all the pupils admitted to being prejudiced against someone or some group. What a far cry from the common adult claim, ‘I’m not prejudiced but …’ followed by some sneaky little slur against someone with dark skin, a foreign accent or a begging cup.
I was at least 25 before I understood I had prejudices: that I sometimes pre-judged people unkindly by their appearance, voice, status etc. Not a happy revelation but it did bring a kind of relief. Seeing it on top of the carpet rather than swept beneath, I could at least try my best to squish it underfoot. Someone with that kind of insight at 16 sure gets my vote to vote.
Come to think of it, after Trumperica and Brexit, even toddlers could do a better job than grown-ups. How about making 18 the maximum voting age?