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"We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves."
Democracies may not be perfect, in fact, people tend to screw them up a lot. Regardless of how utopian we would like the world to operate, there will always be some form of government and no form will ever be perfect. Off hand, I can think of three other forms we could choose from. We could live in a dictatorship, or perhaps a monarchy (essentially the same thing) or we can have a theocracy.
In none of the other three would anyone have any say in our own lives. At least in a democracy or republic we have a small say, even if it is illusory. Even if we don't always apply common sense to our choices.
As for lowering the legal voting age. It doesn't necessarily have to follow that other privileges have to be granted. I first joined the army as soon as I turned 17. I was old enough to serve my country but not old enough to vote. For that matter, I still had 4 years to wait until I was legally old enough to drink alcohol. The public didn't find any great conflict with the different ages attached to legal privileges. That's because they were exactly that, privileges, not rights. To be fair, the legal drinking age was lowered from 21 to 18 shortly after I enlisted. Still, in much of Canada, the legal drinking age is 19 years, while voting age is 18 years.
I think, Farmer Sean has come up with the most common sense method of determining the privilege of voting. The only flaw is the bias of those setting up the curriculum and those implementing it. Their personal political leanings will almost certainly influence the emphasis placed on individual subjects.
"How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin."
If 16 year olds are given the responsibility of voting - in any country, are they sufficiently knowledgeable about policies and law of their country to make an informed decision. I'm sure some 16 year olds are, however many aren't interested. I don't believe I wouldn't have been either interested or able to make the necessary decision. When I eventually did vote I was indoctrinated by my mothers Liberal leaning to the point where I didn't even consider any other party as my father hadn't been home since I was 7. Now my views are subject to change every time I vote depending on who's standing for election and what their priorities are.If dropping the voting age to 16 in USA is to round up immigrants from south of the Mexican border, so they can vote democrat, it's hardly a valid reason. In fact if they don't have legality as a citizen their right to vote would be questionable.
As far as I'm concerned, this is all children need to learn about democracy:
The idea of attempting to teach children politics is admirable, but in my opinion at least this may actually be worse than what we already have for the following reasons:(1) As has been mentioned, who writes and teaches the material? This in itself makes such a task near-impossible. No political party will ever agree to this unless their party is elevated above the others, and attempting to achieve a consensus will become so arduous and expensive that it will essentially become an endless battle that might even encourage disincentive to vote, rather than participation. In a climate of such confusion, what happens then? What always happens: the students will do whatever they think they need to do in order to get a good mark, and then they'll just vote according to how they're swayed by outside pressures. Basically, a whole bunch of money and time has been wasted for the same outcome.(2) The intellectual imprint left by schools on children is practically non-existent. Children don't respond to society according to what schools teach them. They respond to society according to what their friends think, what their families think, and most importantly, what the massive, monolithic forces of the mass media tell them to think. School is nothing more than a babysitting service for youth. Again, it will be like trying to float in a boat in the middle of the ocean and attempting to bail out the seabed with a bucket.(3) The problem really isn't learning about politics. The problem is the structure of civilization itself. People can read about political parties all day long, but if people are taught to be perpetual children until age 40, to live empty-materialist lives, then that's how they're going to vote no matter the size of the mound of political literature they've imbibed: they'll vote as childish materialists would. Hence, our world.(4) Licenses are just a horrible idea, to be frank. It's paradoxical to both crave freedom and to have freedom subject to the permission of another person. Freedom is like fishing. Both require a bit of effort, but are God-bestowed rights. Is it not absurd that people require a license to catch a fish for dinner? How much more so in guiding their lives?(5) This all assumes that democracy is the best system to begin with. Who said it is? We've been told it is. We've been programmed that it is. But is it? It was said above that individuals want a say in their lives, but they don't get that through democracy. They get mob rule. Some gang of people tell me what's what. I don't count an "illusion" of freedom as being worthy. I want the real deal. When people say they want a "say" in their lives, what they're really saying is that, "I want to be the dictator". And that's completely fine. Everyone wants to be the dictator of their own life. There are two ways to achieve this: anarchy (which is not chaos, but we've been programmed to think so), or satisfying ourselves that our say in the system comes not in the form of our opinions, but in the maximization of what we can contribute to that system for however long we are alive, with the knowledge that righteous systems last, and unrighteous systems implode automatically.Sometimes I truly feel that democracy is allowed and encourage because it prevents people from otherwise acting in a way that would disrupt the status quo. It's a sort of exhaust valve for built up pressures. Angry with the current guy? Just vote for the other party next year. Disappointed with his results? That's alright, you can just go back to the first party. And between all this useless shifting, no one stages any revolutions, usurpations, and we achieve Coca Cola contentment.
If voting really mattered, we wouldn't be allowed to do it.