Those of us who came of age in the 1960s were shaped by the events of that tumultuous decade. There were huge racial riots in the streets of major cities, employment for women in many professions was very limited, and most of all for us young men, the spectre of being drafted into military service to fight in an unpopular foreign war was quite frightening at best.
Today, lots of folks of our era see current political activists and rowdy (if not violent) uncivil protesters as ungrateful crybabies who don’t know how well off they are. Since the ’60s, volumes of civil rights legislation have been passed to protect minorities and women, African-Americans are featured on film in historic numbers, they dominate the sports and entertainment fields, and with the adoption of the Affirmative Action policy, they are given preference in college admission and employment.
All fields are now open to women, and most new doctors and lawyers now graduating in these fields are female. And the draft? It was suspended in 1972.
The Vietnam era also spawned a couple of immediate political changes. When being drafted at the age of 18 was a possibility, the cry of, “If we are old enough to be drafted and to fight, we are old enough to drink alcohol and to vote,” gained traction. And so it came to pass. The legal ages to vote and to drink were reduced from 21 to 18.
When the draft ceased, it took little time for the government to return the legal age of drinking to 21. Obviously, 18-year-olds were too immature to handle alcohol. The same arguments are given for other age-sensitive privileges such as renting a car and gambling. Politicians are now calling for a 21 age minimum for gun purchases.
So let’s get rid of the last vestige of the Vietnam era. Yes, folks. We need to restore the voting age back to 21. I’ve given the reasons above. I know it would take a lot of guts to support such a proposition, but it’s the right, logical thing to do.