Taking a break from her jihad against the hapless Chuck Rosenthal & Co. (which is OK as far as it goes, although at this point it’s just making the dead dogs bounce in the rubble), the daily paper’s Lisa Falkenberg this week took up the cause of 17-year-old Jeff Liu of College Station, who has embarked on a campaign to allow 17 year olds to vote in Texas’ party primaries if they will turn 18 in time to participate in the subsequent general election.
We’re certain that Mr. Liu is a smart guy with a high IQ and commendable SATs (has to be---he’s a Chinese kid from College Station!), but we’re afraid he’s pushing a dumb idea. It’s obvious that what this country needs at the moment is a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum age of enfranchisement to at least 35, if not 40, and we’re not so sure that a non-discriminatory literacy test of some kind---perhaps reciting the multiplication tables to 12, or declaiming a snatch of Longfellow---shouldn’t be required. Maybe the posting of a surety bond, too.
Yet Falkenberg is so geezed on Liu’s idea that she rang up the high schooler’s state rep, Fred Brown, R-College Station, a dunderhead of the first order (middling IQ, unimpressive SATs) who, perhaps caught up in an infectious moment of good feeling with the big-city columnist, said he’d be glad to sponsor legislation fulfilling Mr. Liu’s desire (which, as we didn’t know [middling IQ], is permissible in local- and state-conducted elections, despite the 26th amendment setting 18 as the minimum for participation in federal elections).
We thought it odd that the columnist would be pushing such a change and talking up the glories of enfranchisement because, as we noted earlier and as still seems to be the case, the name “Lisa Falkenberg” is nowhere to be found on the voter rolls of Harris County (the two clearly female Falkenbergs listed as registered both live in heavily Republican redoubts---place where we’d bet the columnist has never ventured---and neither bears the name “Lisa” or a close variation) This of course doesn’t mean she isn’t registered to vote: It’s possible that Lisa Falkenberg is a whatchamacallit, a pseudonym, and she’s actually registered under her real name, or perhaps she maintains her registration in some other county, one where she doesn’t write a twice-weekly column whose sometimes aim is to influence public policy. And if she’s not registered, we’re sure there’s a good reason: Maybe she’s a convicted felon and lost the right, or maybe she’s not a legal resident of the United States (which around here is no barrier to participation in the electoral process), or maybe---and we’re guessing this is the reason---she herself is just 17 (and you know what I mean).
Whatever the case, we can assure both Mr. Liu and Ms. Falkenberg that this representative democracy business isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Take us, a longtime voter who on occasion even goes to the polls and may do so in one or the other upcoming party primary, unless we oversleep: Our state senator has not lived in our district for many months (which is OK---we don’t need a state senator except once every two years, if then) and has set his resignation date a ways off so he can anoint a successor, while our state rep seems to be some kind of stone gangster (a Gangster of Love, no doubt). Then there’s our city councilman, who apparently does not live in the city but supposedly has aspirations for citywide office. (Our bottom line on this residency question is this: “If we have to live in this dump, then you do, too, if you would presume to represent us.”)
So we’d suggest that Mr. Liu concern himself with matters more suitable for a 17 year old---trying to get laid, or trying to get into the Ivy League school of his choice, etc.---and bide his time until it’s his turn to mess up this world.