COR­RINE BARRACLOUGH

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Extra Saturday - JAMES MOR­ROW

There’s an old ex­pres­sion that goes some­thing like, you have to be pretty smart to be­lieve some­thing that stupid.

Ex­hibit A: Pro­fes­sor David Runci­man, who is not just any old aca­demic hack but the head of pol­i­tics at Cam­bridge Uni­ver­sity, and his pro­posal to let six year olds vote. That’s right. Six. Not six­teen. As re­ported yes­ter­day in the UK Guardian, Runci­man sug­gests that our age­ing pop­u­la­tion means that young peo­ple have lost the weight of num­bers in our par­lia­ments while the old and on the way out run — and ruin — ev­ery­thing.

“I would lower the vot­ing age to six, not 16. And I’m se­ri­ous about that. I would want peo­ple who vote to be able to read, so I would ex­clude re­cep­tion [age-chil­dren]”, he is re­ported to have said.

“What’s the worst that could hap­pen? At least it would be ex­cit­ing, it would make elec­tions more fun.”

Well, fun is one word for it. You might have oth­ers. Be­cause kids can be­lieve, well, some pretty dopey things.

Given that La­bor is al­ready odds-on favourite to win the next fed­eral elec­tion, do we re­ally need any Santa Clausstyle gov­ern­ment that gives free stuff to its true be­liev­ers and snoops on every­body else?

The past fort­night we’ve also learned of preschool­ers be­ing given les­sons on how to cam­paign against the de­ten­tion of refugees in Nauru and the gov­ern­ment’s en­ergy poli­cies. If you want the na­tion’s class­rooms to veer even fur­ther to­wards be­com­ing re-ed­u­ca­tion cen­tres, here’s your path­way.

And should Runci­man’s thought bub­ble come to pass, can­di­dates with un­fa­mil­iar names (sorry, David Ley­on­hjelm) will be at a dis­ad­van­tage against any politi­cian with the good for­tune to have the sur­name Cat, Dog, or Ball.

Of course if the above might be of­fen­sive to Year 2 read­ers, Runci­man’s pro­posal should also put re­spon­si­ble adults off-side. Con­trary to Runci­man, nor­mal peo­ple ac­tu­ally do care about the gen­er­a­tions that will come af­ter them.

If peo­ple didn’t care about fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, no­body would bother writ­ing a will and ev­ery­one would vote them­selves rich.

OK, per­haps this ar­gu­ment gets wob­bly if one takes into ac­count the Baby Boomers, but let’s put them to one side for the mo­ment.

Be­cause as it turns out, like so many ideas about how to “save” democ­racy from it­self (an ur­gent task in an era when or­di­nary peo­ple keep do­ing things that Cam­bridge pro­fes­sors don’t like), Runci­man is re­ally about en­trench­ing power for one side. As he tells the Guardian, low­er­ing the vot­ing age might have stopped Brexit.

Runci­man is not the only aca­demic done with how we do democ­racy.

Ear­lier this year in Aus­tralia the Greens pro­posed low­er­ing the vot­ing age to 16 (not six, thank­fully), a move which was widely seen as a cyn­i­cal vote­har­vest­ing ploy.

The same phenomenon is at work in the United States where ever since Trump’s elec­tion pro­gres­sives have dreamt about abol­ish­ing their Elec­toral Col­lege and en­trench­ing the pop­u­lar vote — pro­pos­als that would mean a few densely pop­u­lated, left lean­ing cities could pick pres­i­dents in per­pe­tu­ity.

Given these sorts of tantrums, which all boil down to “We lost! No fair!”, it seems at least some kid­dies ac­tu­ally do get a vote.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.