early and often

Ramaswamy’s Solution for Gen-Z Hostility: Don’t Let Them Vote!

Here’s an idea! Photo: Rachel Mummey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

It’s not a secret that the recent weakness of the Republican Party among young voters has gone from a serious problem as the millennials began voting to a three-alarm fire given early evidence of Gen-X party preferences. This is in no small part because each new wave of youngsters is more diverse than its predecessors, as The Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein recently explained:

[P]eople of color comprise well over two-fifths of Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996), just under half of Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) and slightly more than half the youngest generation born since 2012. That youngest generation (sometimes called Generation Alpha) will be the first in American history in which racial “minorities” constitute the majority. The transition extends to other dimensions of personal identity. The Public Religion Research Institute has calculated that while just 17% of Americans aged 65 or older and 20% of those aged 50-64 do not identify with any organized religion, the share of those “seculars” rises to 32% among those aged 30-49 and 38% among adults 18-29. In turn, while White Christians constitute about half of all adults aged 50-64 and three-fifths of seniors, they comprise only about one-third of those aged 30-49 and only one-fourth of the youngest adults.

It would be smart of Republicans to wake up, smell the coffee, and do something to appeal to this coming wave of voters. But 2024 presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has a different idea: Put off the day when they can vote! He told Iowans about it, according to the Des Moines Register:

Ramaswamy told Iowans Thursday night he supports raising the minimum U.S. voting age from 18 to 25.

Under Ramaswamy’s desired amendment to the U.S. Constitution, those ages 18-25 would be allowed to vote only if they participate in a six-month “national service requirement” — in the military or as a first responder — or complete a civics test identical to the one required to become a naturalized citizen.

The policy, Ramaswamy told a crowd at the Royal Flooring furniture store in Urbandale, is “ambitious,” and some “will not agree with it.” But he described it as a critical stepping stone for restoring “civic pride” and “American identity” among young people.

More to the point, it would reduce Democratic votes, as Philip Bump observed at the Washington Post:

Using 2018 exit polls, a reduction of the number of voters under 25 by half would have shifted the national House margin by 1 point to the Republicans. Eliminating it entirely would have shifted the vote 2.1 points to the right. The effect on 2020 would have been larger. Lose half of those under 25 and the margin shifts 1.4 points to the right. Eliminate all of them and the shift is 3 points.

Young voters already vote at significantly lower levels than older folks. In 2022, according to Census data, 26 percent of under-30 voters participated in the midterm elections compared to 65 percent of seniors. Their gradual entry into the electorate as actual voters should give Republicans a good chance to offset and even reverse their pro-Democratic voting tendencies (under-30 voters favored Democrats by a 63-35 margin in 2022). But it’s obviously appealing to MAGA folk to be told that this preference for the party of the radical left is a sign of immaturity that makes narrowing, rather than widening, young voters’ path to the ballot box a good idea.

It’s clearly ironic that it’s the 37-year-old Ramaswamy, the first millennial to run for the GOP presidential nomination, who is throwing this toxic idea out there onto the campaign trail. He is sometimes referred to as a sort of Republican Pete Buttigieg, thanks to his youth, though Mayor Pete in 2020 was a veteran elected official compared to Author Vivek, who is mostly known for heavy Fox News coverage of his book attacking “woke corporations.” Other than the very long odds against Ramaswamy actually going to the White House in 2024, there is another reason why young voters probably won’t lose the franchise anytime soon: It would require a constitutional amendment. There has been only one successful amendment since the one that lowered the voting age to 18, which was ratified 52 years ago, well before Ramaswamy was born. That’s a long way to turn back the clock.

Ramaswamy’s Solution for Gen-Z Hostility: Don’t Let ’Em Vote