Tuesday, May 04, 2004

And Catherine Zeta Jones and Emma Thompson and the Beatles
In Britain, the Labour Party is proposing that the voting age be lowered from 18 to 16. Labour thinks it might increase participation among young voters, the lowest-participating group in Britain, but an electoral commission examining the idea found that it would just increase the pool of disinterested voters.

We've adopted several good British ideas here in America over the years--John Locke, Monty Python, Young's Double Chocolate Stout--but this is one with which we should have no truck whatsoever. I've spent a lot of time with high school juniors this spring, and I've been astounded at the utter shallowness displayed by many of them. They seem unwilling to think about anything not directly related to their own pleasure, and their concept of "the future" has an outer limit of a couple of days at most. And I think it's worse now than it was five years ago, which was the last time I worked with so many students for so long. That a majority of these people could be disciplined enough to sort through public issues and vote intelligently without being swayed by dishonest PR and demogoguery is impossible to believe.

Then again, what I have described also applies to many of the parents of these kids, and many other adults of voting age, so maybe it wouldn't matter after all.

Recommended reading: Juan Cole is getting a rep as one of our best commentators on what's really happening in the Arab world. So his take on the prisoner photos is worth reading, as is the accompanying commentary by Tom Engelhardt, who's blogging for The Nation.

Last week, lots of Intenet outlets were listing questions they wanted the 9/11 commission to ask Bush and Cheney. Mark Morford has some questions of his own for Bush, not just about national policy, but about how he sees his place in society and history. "Don't you wish you were back at Yale, hammered on rum and Cokes and dreamin' 'bout baseball and playin' Go Fish with Dad? Can you point to North Korea on a map? How about Vietnam? Never mind."

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