Sunday, May 17, 2015

Why I'm voting yes in the Presidential Age Referendum

Did you know there's a second referendum happening on Friday? The one that proposed to reduce the candidate age requirement for presidential elections from 35 to 21. I'm voting YES for the same reason I'm voting yes and here's why.

As a 27 year old, I find is odd that I'm technically old enough to become a TD, a minister or even taoiseach (all roles that effect people's daily lives) but I'm considered "too young" to become what is largely a ceremonial role. Why does someone like Dana (for example) have more of a right to stand for President that I have. We have this idea of a "elder statesman" president but are the qualities of a good President that age specific. In my mind, things like being confident, inspirational, a good public speaker, a good ambassador, knowledgeable about constitutional law, passionate about society etc are all things that make some "Presidential". Sure, life experience is something to consider but I've met people in their twenties and thirties that have far more "life experience" than some people in their sixties.

So you might think that a 21 year old is too young to be President? You could be right. But this referendum doesn't mean that a 21 year old will automatically become President. They still have to win an election and to be fair, we're probably never going to elect a 21 year old. This is more likely to apply to someone aged 30-34. That said, even with a threshold of 35, the youngest president elected was 46 and I'd say the average age of a President when they office is a lot higher.

Its not easy to become a candidate, especially for an independent candidate without the backing a political party. Before you start you'd actually want to be President. Then you'd need to know you have the financial and logistical support to run a grueling national campaign. You'd need to confidence to put yourself out there knowing you're automatically at a disadvantage because you're "too young". And then you need to get the support of 20 members of the Oireachtas or 4 county councils to get on the ballot paper, which again without the backing of a political party is a big ask. So if despite all those barriers, in the unlikely event that a 21 year old (or someone aged 22-34) can pull all that off, then why shouldn't they be able to put themselves forward and get on the ballot.

And if you still think this candidate is too young, then guess what? You vote for the other guy! We live in a republic. That means we get to vote for our representatives. No body is forcing you to vote for the younger candidate, all this referendum means is that they can ask for your vote. And who knows, having a younger candidate might make for a more interesting election and engage more voters which can't be a bad thing.

No comments: