Giving children the right to vote...

Democracy or child abuse?

Jaco Strauss
25 May 1993 E-Mail this page to a friend

I wrote this in the run-up to the 1994 elections for the IFP's Western Cape's media office and am not sure if it was published anywhere. It deals with Nelson Mandela's attempts to extend voting rights to 14 year olds. It was such a mad idea that it was luckily never implemented.

It is also an issue that didn't (and still does not) get a lot of media attention. I suppose nobody wants to publish anything negative about Mandela.

6 January 2003

you can have 5 year-olds voting if you have a one-party "democracy"
Nelson Mandela's political opportunism in advocating lowering the voting age to 14, cannot pass without comment.

One of his main arguments is the fact that kids as young as 12 joined MK. To use this as enough reason to give children the right to vote is ludicrous. It only serves as proof of a national tragedy, short-sightedness and child abuse by the MK, ANC and SACP leadership.

Mandela further claims that there are "at least seven countries" where the voting age is lower than 18 and this draws him to the irrational conclusion that "South Africa should be no exception". There are far more countries where women are not allowed to vote, why should we then be an exception to that? In most African countries nobody votes. Why be an exception to that?

Among the countries Mandela referred to are Nicaragua, North Korea and Afganistan. I suppose you can have 5 year-olds voting if you have a one-party "democracy", or no democracy at all. If these countries are Mandela's role models then God help us.

"27 years in jail doesn't turn you into a statesman"
His other supporting argument that over 18 year-olds empowered the Nats, doesn't carry any weight either. In the same way as Hitler became the democratically elected leader of Germany, it rather serves as an argument against the concept of democracy itself.

Furthermore, the Nats actually increased there parliamentary majority when they lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. If they lowered it any further, all indications are that their majority would have been even bigger. The CP might even have benefited. It is also important to note that the German teenagers were organized in the Jugend Bund and became one of Hitler's strongest supporting blocks.

Winnie Mandela recently made one very sensible statement to the effect that 27 years in jail doesn't turn you into a statesman. This latest folly seems to support that view.

Previous Visitor Comments

Name Email Subject Location
Rupiyal 20k deela UNP eke samajika wetaawna wadiya hodai lotharaiyak aran dinumak hoyanawa. auvrudu 18k rupiyal 20k deela samajikathwe aragena dinumak hoyana UNP karayonta thamath dinumak nathuwa hulla hulla innawa. Me gon nayakaya Thawath avurudu 6k minissunwa paraddanna hadanawa. mu nam maha lajja nathi nayakayekma thamai VA:F [1.9.20_1166]please wait...(1 vote cast)VA:F [1.9.20_1166](from 1 vote)

abarbara on This is the work done by Paula Gambin, Cherise Greach, Shannon Pace, Graziella Chetcuti and Megan Galea for the YRE cotoemitipnabarbara on This is the work of Grace Anne Muscat for the YRE cotoemitipn

Abuse is one thing, fair use is another For blogs that are read whiitn institutions at work, say, in the K12, FE or HE communities, vote counts are effectively limited to the number of institutions in that sector, rather than the number of actual subscribers or readers a blog has, for example?I guess that’s fair enough after all, we don’t want communication via blogs to become integrated into daily work practice far better that it’s something you do out of hours, in your own time, at home Maybe you should lock down voting so that it’s only enabled out of work hours (tracking time zones across the globe, of course)?As it’s one vote per institution/IP address, I assume that you only allowed one nomination per institution/IP address?tony

mikaelaAnonymousYeah, I think so
14 year olds should have the right to vote. If you DON'T want to vote, don't register. All they should know is the consiquences of voting. I think they should have a say too. It effect them also.

raymond kaleray_kalle_at_yahoo.comvoting
why should a 14 year old not vote when he can already understand the writings of shakespear and donne ,he reads newspapers and now watch sat TV ,hear in cameroon at 17 or 18 you are already reading in a university and maybe political sciences then you will only vote at 20 what a shame on us africa

what!!!!anonymouswhat r these ppl thinking
come on, are u serious, 14year olds voting? most 14y olds dont even know bout goverment policies etc. we might know whats going on in the country, but we're not clued up enough i doubt anybody even cares about voting

chrisanonymoushow kidz should vote
kids should have their point of veiw shared with the world, and i think that kid should have their own president, so they can have chance to expeirence how laws and government works.

MeAnonymousGeneral Comment
I personally think that this current foruim is a good reason why this shouldn't be put into practice. So many immature people.

ima bumihateurmama_at_comcast.netpolitics
we should be able to vote once ur born fuckin bush!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

peasantAnonymousVoting at 30
All you snot nosed little economically impotent fuckers. You should not vote. Hell i think until you are 30 you know fuck all about life and the world etc. Hell until 30 you are still idealist revolutionary idiots driven by emotions and not your intellect.

KellAnonymousGeneral Comment
I think teens like us should vote because we know what we want. any body reply if you think 14yrs old would of got rid of bush

dont even askanonymouscomment
u wanted a reply so here it is

hello i am so cool reply to this please oh yeah bush stinks

jakeAnonymousyeah i think 14yrs old shud vote
I think 14yrs old should vote because at that age you have since to know what you want, and what's right.

your momagoldberg2_at_minspring.comstuff
hey first i think we should vote i me its our future andif we are able to voe we would feel important because our vote ca n change history and that can make us feel important and micheal jackson is so white he is goin down go drink your jesus juice

dudeAnonymousGeneral Comment
i think we shoul be able to vote cause kids are the future of this world and if we cant have a opion on any thing then how can we change things in the future so if any reads this help pass a law that sayes kids 12 and over can vote.

RJ Martinezbladn4u_at_aol.comcomment
I believe that 15 year olds and up should vote because who we vote for effects our future lives.

14 year olds voting...who ever heard of 14 year olds voting? you losers! morons! you guys are heardly even educated!you can hardly even wipe your own asses and change you dirty smelly poopy diapers! you dumb commies, liberals and hippies! you losers nerdy lowlife crackheads! you dumb hippy-ass, spoiled, shitheaded teeneagers! cant you wait 4 years, you spoiled americans? you dumb nerdy couch potatoes! YOU ALL SUCK! dumbass liberals! GO TO HELL!!!!!

dont even askanonymouscomment
why should 14 year olds vote, huh? there not even smart enough to know the details about the election. most kids arent even interested in politics except for the losers who have nothing to do in there lives and are couch potatoes and are nerds and want to make america and the world "a better better place", you dumb liberal hippies. you guys think that the government will even take the kids votes into consideration or even count them as votes? Well i got news for you, buddy, THEY MOST PROBABLY WONT ANYWAYS!!!!!!!! who ever doesnt agree with me probably wont even get there way in the government! you never will!KIDS SHOULDNT VOTE PERIOD! OH YEAH< I FORGOT, GO BUSH!!! ALL THE WAY!

14 year olds should not vote. they just started highschool or are still in 8th grade too young for anyone to vote

smarty tartyloser_at_jerk.htmlyo
yo wat up fool

rosalie tindugan rosalie tindugan politics
why 18 yrs. old is responsible enough to vote in the philippines.

ohhh common since when did 14 yr olds b com so smart seriously plz tell me ur jokin. except 4 u guys what other 14 yr old would wanna vote? do they look like they care ... gimme a breakkk

If we can have jobs and be taxed, shouldn't we be able to vote

we should be able to vote at 12. We are mature enough

VisitorAnonymousGeneral Comment
teenagers should have the right to vote because we need to exersize our rights and show that kids are interested in poletics and that we CAN make a difference :-D

unkownAnonymousteens should vote
my reason is that they should be reasponable to vote

unknownunknownkids should vote
i think 14 year olod should be able to vote because they are responsible enought to tell other people what is right an stuff liek that so i think we should have the right to vote

WhY dont you guys like bush? he does not ass rape

your all a pack of bush voting cock sucking wankers in 16 an irish an even i know that wee gay texas wanker with his ugly family shouldnt be in da white house we want biily clinton back go monica

VisitorAnonymousGeneral Comment
I think that if teenagers get the right to vote, it should only count as like 1/4 of a vote.

Elijah Wood loverAnonymousyes and no
yes and no just because like some kids should be able to because thay can handle it but some 14 year olds are to in mature...

we should not do drugs its bad for uor health

KARL KORDECKIkarlpol_at_msn.comkids voting
After listening to Flipper (Sean Hanity Show ) interview 18-19 year old kids and explain why they are voting for John Kerry, I can understand why kids don't have a clue how to measure out 1/2 or 1/3 lbs. when they work at a supermarket. This is the way the Democatic Party wants to keep your kids so you have to depend on the government. Ask them why they are voting for him and the answer you get is as empty as their last 12 years of education they got in school.They're more interested in hiphop music or Bart Simpson. There is no way kids that young have any clue what the real issues facing their lives are, just look at some of their parents.

dont knowbeats meno no no no
I do not think that any child should be allowed to vote simply bcause they are too immature to know what the right decision is. Sure they could vote based on what their parents or they think, but they could be wrong. If children are allowed to vote then you might as well go ahead and hand the whole country over to terrorism.

VisitorAnonymousGeneral Comment
kids as young as 6 should have a say in the government......ITS OUR COUNTRY TO YOU KNOW!

Jesseanonymousvoting at 10
i think that we should be able to vote at 10 because the goverment afect us to for our education system

basketball starAnonymousGeneral Comment
If they let 16 year olds drive their putting someone else's life in danger. So since they let 16 year olds drive then why can't they vote?

MLK jrAnonymousGeneral Comment
16 year olds are more mature then 14. So 16 year olds should vote but not 14. Go bush

Hannahanonymousteens should be able to vote
Teens should be allowed to vote, we are smarter than most adults! Kerry is the best!

I think we should why not i am 14 and we are the next generation to the U.S

should 15 years olds have the right to vote for there country. i think they sho7uld so that the will have more people to vote right back asap

No children at the age of 14yrs should not be allowed to vote. Why? For the simple reason that they are CHILDREN. Although they do see things in a different light, it would not take very much to blackmail a child to do anything that you want them to do.

jESssicAjessicaj_2008_08_at_yahoo.comvoting @ age 14
Yes i think 14 yrs old should vote but they should take some kind of muture test and make sure they are muture and will kno wat they are doing when they vote BUSH IS SO AWSOME!!!!!

Krystalalstarteen2005_at_yahoo.comshould 14yr olds be able to vote?
yes i think so because we should have a say too.

I believe to many children will just vote as thier parents vote children are very easilt involanced and will vote as thier parents or adults in thier life says to my big "O"

Old KING COLri see dead asswhats this
i be 14 dont know nothing bout nothing so i shpu not vote

SuRRablahhh dont worry about itwow u guys need to look at both points of view...
alright. if 16 year olds drink with their dumb friends at parties and then think its cool to then drive home, what makes you think a kid that is two years younger can vote for who should be running our country?! Every kid looks up to all these celebrities who spell their name with Lil or Diddys, and then those lil diddys tell us how to vote. We DONT KNOW HOW TO VOTE AND WE SHOULDNT NEED TO. We are 14,15,16,and 17 years old. We are still worrying about who will take us to winter formal. We are not worrying or even paying attention to laws, poverty, hunger or war. So why should we be able to vote? I mean, 30 year olds just vote for the stickers, and when they vote they close their eyes or pick the coolest name! Now, I am 15 years old and I actually know about some stuff, however i dont pay taxes, i dont have a job, i dont pay for gas, i dont watch CNN. I am perfectly happy with waiting until i am 18 or even older to just start PAYING ATTENTION and then maybe when i am educated i can vote... PS GO BUSH!!!

VisitorAnonymousGeneral Comment
i dissagree with you i am 15 years old but i stand by the restritions owr four fathers put down children under 18 are not ready to vote it would most likely be another one of there parents votes to have a child vote when they dont even have to pay taxes is stupidity

VisitorAnonymousthis might be kinda off the subject but...
Ewww!!! McDonalds is sooo discusting, do you even know how many calories are in one meal??? well i'll tell you that there are a lot. DOT EAT THERE YOU WILL BE A FAT HOMO BEFORE YA KNOW IT

VisitorAnonymousKids should Vote!!!
i think that kids 14 and up should be able to vote. they have a say in what goes on and they should be able to choose their own government. is picking a president that big of a deal? okay maybe it is, but why should we learn about it in school if we dont get a say in it. Just remember - kids can be trusted just as well as audults are.

Shayma RemyahmedmrhKids should be able to vote.
Doyou have any idea if kids should vote?

JoshAnonymousLittle Pathetic Idiots
You Little 14 year old idiots can not vote for 3 big reasons....1)You have been brainwashed by MTV....its unbelievable that this wasnt a bigger issue in the election, MTV ran a program called 20 million loud in which they made Kerry look like the second coming of Christ. #2 goes with 1 because you little bastards are impressionable....b/c your little teachers and the media is EXTREMLY biased democraticly and that is why you think Bush is a bad president b/c you are force fed liberal propaganda from 8 AM till u lay your pimply little heads down to sleep(if you watch TV before u sleep) 3)You have not hit puberty, you can not go to war, so leave the real issues to the big people for a little while and think for yourself rather than REGURGETATE whatever your socialist history teacher that cant hold a REAL job tries to infect you with....For Cryin out loud

a good christiangenius_at_hotmail.comjohn
Actually smart john, George Bush has done nothing of the such and if your iq is bigger than your shoe size you would know that you pathetic liberal!

fire eater37AnonymousVoting
kids are just as important as adults we are just as important as as adults!!!! ok WE ARE THE FUCKING FUTURE!!!!!!!

Jaco vir enigiemand
Ouderdom is 'n baie arbitrÍre maatstaf vir enigiets (en 'n baie eienaardige een in 'n land wat hom roem op geen diskriminasie op o.a. ouderdom nie) Die meeste mense is dit egter eens dat kinders beskerming moet geniet en as sulks word sekere beperkings op die handelinge van minderjariges geplaas. Die beperkings soos bv 18 vir 'n bestuurders lisensie geld vir almal, al is sommiges op 16 meer verantwoordelik agter 'n stuurwiel as ander op 36. Die ouderdomme is moontlik gekies aangesien daar 'n persepsie is dat die meerderheid persone van daardie ouderdom volwasse genoeg is om die verantwoordelikheid, wat met die wegval van die beperking gepaardgaan, te kan hanteer.

Dieselfde geld dan ook vir stemreg. Persone van 18 word oor die algemeen beskou as volwasse genoeg om 'n regering te help kies. Hulle dra tog meestal reeds tot die staatskas by of is studente. Universele stemreg in 'n heterogene ontwikkelende land kom egter selde neer op enigiets meer as 'n pigmentokrasie. SA is dan ook geen uitsondering nie. Natuurlik behoort almal 'n stem te hÍ, maar bo en behalwe die basiese stem behoort almal ook ekstra stemme te kry vir elke R1000 belasting wat hulle per jaar betaal. Sodoende kry jy inspraak aan die hand van jou bydrae, ouderdom speel geen rol nie en belastingontduiking sal minder aantreklik wees. Suid-Afrika sal ongekende groei ervaar as ons net dit doen. "Flat-rate" inkomste belasting van sÍ 15% op alles oor (sÍ) R12000 per jaar. En die belasting gee vir jou inspraak soortgelyk aan die aandeelhouers van 'n openbare maatskappy. So dan kan enigiemand stem...

I agree with your views regarding Mandela and had similar experiences here and overseas. Although he was much better than Mbeki, I still find it nauseating that black politicians are judged by a different set of values to their white counterparts. The patronising nature of these attitudes imply that a black leader is a "statesman" if he can read and write, is articulate and doesn't overtly massacre his political opponents. And when he does, as he did at Shell House when he ordered ANC cadres to open fire on peaceful Inkatha protesters in Johannesburg, it gets largely ignored. You ask about his racist comments, these are obviously numerous, but I specifically remember his speech at Kimberly a couple of years ago as being particularly bad.... If you changed "white" and "black" to "jew" and "gentile" in most of his speeches, you won't be able to tell which is which..... the "statesman" of the 20th century or an average neo-nazi. While I'm busy - how can he be a statesman if he can criticise the yanks, but not the Zimbabweans? This "statesman" allows a whole country to go to the dogs, but feels it is an issue "too sensitive" for him to comment on.....

Leonora van Stadenleonora007@hotmail.comStemreg vir enigiemand
Dit lyk vir my asof "Visitor" met sy eerste kommentaar probeer sÍ dat stemreg aan mense gegee behoort te word wat verantwoordelikheid vir hulle eie dade kan aanvaar. Dis goed en wel en ek stem heelhartig daarmee saam. Maar ek glo dat hierdie verantwoordelikheid nie aan 'n arbitrÍre faktor soos ouderdom gebonde kan wees nie. Neem byvoorbeeld die kwessie van voortplanting. Alhoewel 14 jariges wel daartoe in staat is, is dit glad nie 'n wenslike situasie nie. Maar dan daar is vele 34 jariges wat, volgens my, ook nie verantwoordelik genoeg is om kinders te hÍ nie, omdat hulle nie "responsible to raise and care for their children in a reasonable manner" is nie. Of die kwessie van oorloŽ: ek dink geen mens is emosioneel in 'n ideale situasie om ander mense dood te maak op bevel nie, ongeag van hoe oud hy/ sy is. En enigiemand behoort vry te wees om sy potensiaal in 'n vry, stimulerende omgewing te kan ontwikkel, nie net kinders nie. Wat ek dus probeer sÍ het met my eerste argument, is dat iets soos ouderdom nie goeie grond is om op te staan as mens moet besluit oor wie mag stem en wie nie. Nou ontstaan die vraag oor wat wel 'n goeie maatstaf van stemgeregtigheid sal wees. En daaroor sal ek eers weer bietjie moet dink.

Although I dont recall his exact words Mandela made this comment a few years ago in response to (obviously) misleading rumours that the ANC was considering re-introducing the death penalty - "We will never bring back capital punishment because to do so would result in the deaths of thousands of comrades who struggled against apartheid." Reading between these racist lines, the unworthy black saint (who aint)seems be saying something like this - "Nothing would please us more than executing white racists such as Hani's killers, but as the vast majority of murderers are black and ANC supporters who will be useful when it comes to slaughtering the whites, we should keep them alive..." One of the most sickening things about travelling the world(which I do a lot of)is to have to listen to well-intentioned but "know-nothing" dorks praising Mandela's "enormous compassion" (for not slaughtering SA whites presumably)his "statesmanship", his "vision", his "colour-blindness", and so on, ad nauseum.. When I try to tell these people that they have been duped, the reaction I get is similar to what I would expect if I claimed to be an emissary from Venus or wherever. May I suggest a new topic on this site called "Mandela - the truth behind the facade" or something similar, where his many racist remarks can be posted..? If anyone knows any please post them on this site or email them to me - stating dates and source naturally.

Jaco 14 jariges mag stem aldan nie
Anonymous Visitor makes very valid points. Related counter arguments to Leonora's position might be that although 14 year-olds have the ability to procreate and have served in numerous wars, no sane person would regard either of these as desirable situations.

Children should not be having children or killing people. Instead, they should be allowed to develop their full adult potential in an environment as free and stimulating as possible. Having to worry about nappies, bond repayments and fiscal policy, not to mention armed combat, will not be conducive to this...

VisitorAnonymousOf 14 jariges mag stem aldan nie
What about the principle of proper classical liberal rights that tie into the concept of liberal democracy and the right itself to vote or decide on a government? Those rights of the individual also carry with them an inverse axiom, or the responsibilities of each individual in civil society. (Ignoring negative rights) With respect to responsibilities then, non-adults are not automatically held to be responsible and liable to face the full weight of criminal or civil law should they ever be tried or convicted. Doesn't the same also apply with regard to parents and children then in that a parent is responsible to raise and care for their children in a reasonable manner? If the child is then deemed fully responsible for themself at an earlier age, does that leave the parent no longer having to take responsiblity for the child? In summary, what I'm asking is if a child is entitled to vote, doesn't that make them fully responsible in the eyes of civil society and the constitution? That, which then denies them the protections they may have been afforded previously.

Jaco 14 jariges mag stem aldan nie
Baie goeie punte wat jy maak Leonora. Jou argumente dra heelwat meer water as Mandela s'n self! My probleem, soos jy tereg uitgewys het, was meerendeels met die argumente wat hy gebruik het ter regverdiging van sy politieke opportunisme!! Dit sou interessant wees om die resultate van die navorsing wat jy voorstaan te kon sien. Dit kan dalk nogal insiggewend wees....

Leonora van Stadenleonora007@hotmail.comOf 14 jariges mag stem aldan nie
Hierdie artikel kritiseer Mandela se uitlatings, maar dit verskaf steeds geen grondige redes hoekom 14 jariges nie mag stem nie. Die hele skryfstuk is gebaseer op die aanname dat 14 'n te jong ouderdom is om op te stem, maar die aanname word nie verduidelik nie. Hier's 'n paar gedagtes wat stemreg vir 14 jariges miskien minder absurd kan laat lyk: 1. Alhoewel die Natte meer stemme gewerf het toe hulle die ouderdom van stemgeregtigdes verlaag het, is dit nie noodwendig te sÍ dat die jonger stemouderdom die enigste rede is nie. Daar's vele faktore wat 'n bydrae lewer tot die klimaat van die sosio-politiese omgewing. Miskien sou die Natte in elk geval meer stemme gekry het. 2. Aangesien tieners berug is vir rebelsheid, kan hulle stemreg dalk juis 'n beter demokrasie bevorder. 3. 14 jariges het in al telkemale in die verlede hulle lande verteenwoordig in oorloŽ. Is stemreg 'n groter verantwoordelikheid? 4. 14 jariges is in staat daartoe om die menslike spesie te laat voortplant. Hoe weeg stemreg teen hierdie gewigtige saak op? 5. Dit sal interressant wees om 'n studie te doen wat die politiese kennis en insig van die gemiddelde 14 jarige vergelyk met die van 'n gemiddelde 24 jarige. 6. En as mens werklik wreed wil wees kan jy die 14 jariges se insig vergelyk met ons parlementslede s'n. Die resultate behoort interressant te wees. Hehehehe... Dink maar aan Nkozezama Zuma (verskoon die spelling asseblief). 7. Met nabetragting het Winnie Mandela miskien die pot misgesit. Miskien sou 'n paar jaar in die tronk ons huidige president net goed gedoen het.

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