Saturday, September 20, 2008

Campaign Kids

How young is too young for political involvement? This is the question I've been pondering since having Kids for Obama linked to me by a friend. There, I discovered that thanks to the Obama campaign, "For the first time in campaign history, children ages 12 and under, have a place to go and actually vote—through their voice." My immediate reaction was to ponder the silent chains that have fettered past 12-year-olds from voicing opinions in electoral politics, despite the spotlight given to their 13-year-old bretheren, but I also wonder if it is prudent to get kids hopped up on democracy as if it was a panacea for the problems of the world.

As an economist, it is hard to understand why the public tends to favor government solutions to problems over free market solutions, despite government's poor track record. I am prone to believe that if liberty was celebrated as actively as democracy, and constitutional limits over campaign promises, America's standard of living would increase dramatically. Encouraging kids to campaign teaches them nothing about government, it only instills in them a love for the state and state sponsored solutions.

Oh, and to show this is not a partisan issue, it looks like there is a Kids for McCain voting bloc mobilizing as well.


Zachary Piso said...

How is democracy celebrated actively? Its a taboo to talk about politics, while voting is conducted in small private booths, often treated more as a chore than a choice.

Less than half the public even votes.

Check out Strong Democracy by Benjamin Barber. Separating liberty from democracy is, in my opinion, an impossible task. Think of separating a price system from democracy, best explained IMO by Hayek, and add to it the fact that forces of government are much more tangible to the public than market forces.

Josh Knox said...

The standard Calculus of Voting Model indicates that the main reason why people vote is the civic pride they derive from the act of voting. Rational people voting in uncontested states don't vote for President believing that their vote will determine the outcome of the Presidency, they mostly vote because they live in a democracy and voting is what democratic people do, I see that as a celebration of democracy.

On separating liberty from democracy, consider a thought experiment where an autocratic leader ruled by attempting to permit maximum freedom for his people to exchange and trade. Wouldn't that be liberty without democracy?