Too Young to Run?

Under the Constitution of the United States, those with political ambitions who aspire to serve in the federal government must be at least twenty-five to qualify for membership in the House of Representatives, thirty to run for the Senate, and thirty-five to become president. What is the justification for these age thresholds, and is it time to consider changing them? In this book, I present the case for a constitutional amendment to lower the age barrier to eighteen, the same age at which citizens become eligible to vote.  I divide this argument into three sections. In a historical chapter, I trace the way in which the age qualifications became incorporated in the Constitution in the first place. In a theoretical chapter,  I analyze  the normative arguments for office eligibility as a democratic right and liberty. And in a political chapter, I ruminate about the real-world consequences of passing such an amendment and the prospects for its passage. Finally, in a postscript, I argue that younger citizens in particular ought to be exposed to this fundamental issue in civics.

This blog, I hope, will further the conversation. Thank you.   — John Seery

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  • Matt Colbert  On June 28, 2011 at 12:05 am

    As an 18 year old, I understand that Medicare and Social Security will not be there for me when I retire, even after I spend my entire working life paying into these programs to support previous generations. I send letters to my representative and senators with my concerns and receive only form letters in return, letters which usually contain promises that benefits will not be decreased for current retirees. (Not exactly reassuring) It is too easy for today’s politicians to push our nation’s financial burden on to my generation, while sending my classmates off to die in foreign lands. Thank you so much for bringing this important debate to the US.

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