Politics & Policy

The Left Wants to Ban Old People from Voting

Protesting the “Brexit” vote outcome outside Parliament in London, June 28, 2016. (Dylan Martinez/Reuters)
Some dark new twists to voting-booth demographics.

Since the U.K. voted to leave the EU, there has been a torrent of angry progressives demanding old people not be allowed to vote. As it turned out, a majority of Britons over 50 voted to leave the EU, while a majority of Britons under 50 voted to stay.

Forbes ran a piece re Brexit with the headline, “Angry Old People Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Vote”: “Better to leave it to the young, who have their hopeful eye on the future, rather than their fearful elders, looking back to a mythic past,” concludes Forbes writer David Schrieberg.

GQ was equally direct: “We Should Ban Old People from Voting.”

VICE News was even direct-er: “Referendum Update: Old People Seem Intent on Fucking Us Over Forever.”

The Independent — one of the U.K.’s larger newspapers — announced the Brexit referendum result under the headline: “How Old People Have Screwed the Younger Generation — In Three Charts.” The first two charts showed the relative Brexit votes of different age groups. The third showed “How long they [the voters] have to live with the decision on average.”

This chart shows that Britons 50 to 64 have, on average, about 30 years to live with the decision. Britons over 65 have, on average, just 15. Why should a country listen to these foot-in-the-grave oldsters?

RELATED: Why the Left Hates Referendums

“Not long to live” was a theme in all such pieces. YouGov tweeted a similar poll, re voters’ actuarial tables. The GQ piece says, “On the reasonable assumption that leaving the EU would take Britain a minimum of ten years, those of retirement age have little or no stake in the country’s next era.”

Let us follow this logic to its natural conclusion. People with a terminal illness, or a chronic condition that will, on average, shorten their lives, should be unable to vote. Their stake in the future is smaller than that of people who are healthy. Likewise the obese, whose lives are, on average, shorter than those of the physically fit. The average rich person lives substantially longer than the average poor person — therefore, say leftists, poor people should be unable to vote. White people live, on average, longer than black people. Presumably progressives think that black people shouldn’t be able to vote either.

RELATED: Brexit Reaction: Damn the People

Who knew that, to the modern liberal, the ideal voter is a rich, physically fit Caucasian?

Conversely, the Left might consider that young voters are likely to see many future elections and referenda. The elderly likely won’t. Surely you take a vote more seriously when its outcome will affect 100 percent of your remaining life rather than — say — a fifth of it.

Either way, conservatives reject such bigotry. The only people we think shouldn’t vote are people whom the law deems — for instance — too young to be trusted to buy liquor or (in the case of British under-21s) too young to be trusted to drive an 18-wheeler. How, we wonder, can such neophytes be trusted to decide who should control their country’s nuclear weapons?

RELATED: Liberal Cosmopolitans Lash Out at the Shattering of Their Worldview

There is — I’m told — a Greek proverb that says, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they will never sit in.” This is the right-wing position.

#related#I’ll leave you with this thought: According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education’s “Nation’s Report Card,” just 12 percent of American high-school seniors are at least “proficient” in U.S. history. On the other side of the Atlantic, one in five British teenagers thinks Winston Churchill is fictional.

Do such people understand the implications of laws being dictated to them by unelected bureaucrats?

I’d prefer to cast in my lot with people who remember the Blitz.

Josh Gelernter — Josh Gelernter is a weekly columnist for NRO, and a frequent contributor to The Weekly Standard.

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