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Bradford wrong person to move bill

Sixteen-year-olds, voting?  It’s not as much of a mismatch as many would have it.  Tell me that a month ago and I would have been all for it.  After all, contrary to the opinions of some people who seem to consider anyone below the age of twenty as capable of making decisions as a three-year-old, sixteen-year-olds can think.  By then, many of them have started to form political opinions and understand their responsibilities for their actions.  Many have jobs and pay taxes, most of them can drive unsupervised, the proportion that are still virgins are often about to have that change, and virtually of them either have decided on or are seriously considering their career.  Voting?  They could and would vote—and properly—if you would just give them the chance.

It is difficult to imagine what critics of the notion are scared of.  Perhaps they are in some mistaken belief that the move is exactly what will get the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party into Parliament.  Because that’s all that’s ever important to young people.  Forget relationships.  Forget student loans.  Forget work conditions, taxes, and justice.  Like I say, they’re all three-year-olds.

Really, sixteen-year-olds voting isn’t that bad.  We talk a lot about getting young people to make their voices heard, about young people being responsible citizens, about young people not being helpless little children.  Sixteen-year-olds have opinions, and those that don’t won’t vote.  It won’t cause an upturning of society.  It’ll just give young people a sense of contribution.  The idea of it isn’t outrageous.

But I sense a hidden reason for the reaction to the bill.  Get anyone apart from Sue Bradford to launch the bill and it might seem reasonable.  But given that “Bradford” has become a name synonymous with “irrationality” and “stupidity”, especially after that smacking bill that she seemed to be clueless about despite being its author, and unwilling to listen to anyone on, the Civics Education and Voting Ages Bill is cast under a different light.  It’s not the message that’s failing.  It’s the messenger.

It’s human nature.  If someone you dislike tells you something, you’ll search for whatever reason you can to disagree with him.  If someone you think highly of says something you disagree with, you might just sympathise with their point of view.  Admit it.  There are some people whose ideas you just don’t like.  It doesn’t really matter what their ideas are.  You just don’t like them.

The Green Party’s fatal error, therefore, will mean a huge struggle to get the bill through.  Because the bill is already tainted by its sponsor’s reputation, Labour’s support for it is likely to be the equivalent of signing its own death certificate for next year’s election.  John Key might be driving National left, but if Labour follows Bradford this would be too good a political opportunity to miss.  Neither major party would be stupid enough to tarnish their own standing by supporting Bradford again.  Bradford’s new bill, then, is unlikely to get the position in the public eye that it deserves.

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