Monday, November 26, 2007

Political Youth Movement

Over the Thanksgiving holiday the wife & I watched Amazing Grace, which you may or may not know is the story of William Wilberforce the British MP who fought for over 20 years and to end the slave trade in the British Empire in 1807 (he was successful, btw).

What struck me about the movie wasn't so much Wilberforce, but his close friend William Pitt the Younger. At age 24 Pitt was (and remains) the youngest PM in Britain's history. A certain dialog in the film really stuck in my mind:

William Wilberforce: No one of our age has ever taken power.
Pitt the Younger: Which is why we're too young to realize certain things are impossible. Which is why we will do them anyway.

This got me to thinking... maybe the problem with politics today is that politicians are generally a lot who have been "in the game" for most of their lives already. They're comfortable in their circumstances and too jaded to try to accomplish anything of substance for fear it will "rock the boat" (and thus knock them out of said boat).

To put it another way, would the Vietnam Conflict have escalated into a War that killed over 50,000 Americans if we'd had a President still of draft-able age as we did under a President who was already in the twilight of his life (LBJ)? Wouldn't a president in his/her late twenties or early thirties have a much more vested interest in "saving" Social Security than any number of the current politicians who are approaching (or past) retirement age?

Humans are generally a selfish lot, and as such are most likely to act in self-interest. Wouldn't it make more sense to have a President of a younger generation who would have to live with the repercussions/results of his/her policies than a President with little or no regard for future generations because he/she won't be around when the fall-out of their policies come to pass?

Today, 24 would be/is a bit too young as most 24 year olds I know aren't mature enough to handle that kind of power, but are we Americans/Canadians/Aussies/whatever doing ourselves a horrible disservice by not considering a more youthful leader to serve our interests? I don't know what the laws/policies are of other nations, but I do know here in the states the youngest a person can be and run for President is 35... an age at which many of us have long since dispensed of our youthful idealism and vigor and are generally a bit too jaded to be proactive enough to serve not just our generation but the generations yet to come. Your thoughts?


Snooze said...

I think 35 is a good cut-off. They would have to have had at least life experience by then. And Clinton was quite young at 50. At least we need to get youth voting.

The Phoenix said...

I turn 35 in exactly two weeks. Would you vote for me?