The Youth Vote

And Symptoms of Short-Term “Pretend” Values

Author: John W. Head, KU School of Law

A opinion piece in the Washington Post article highlighted the fact that 74 million Americans were not permitted to vote in the November 2020 US elections, despite the fact the fact that those Americans will be most profoundly affected by the outcomes of those elections. (See the article at Opinion How Biden can prioritize the 74 million Americans who couldn’t vote but had the most at stake - The Washington Post.) The 74 million Americans at issue, of course, are under the age of 18. Their futures – longer futures than most of the rest of us have – will be dominated with the ecological and energy crises that earlier generations have created.

At the Global RESTORATION Project, we regard those ecological and energy crises to flow directly from a cultural crisis in which short-term “pretend” values consistently prevail over longer-term values. (For details, see our website at Where better to focus our attention, in exploring these issues of values, than on the interests of those other than the persons who can vote in elections. And by “those other” beings, we refer not just to humans.

Instead, in the GRP view, adult humans must serve in roughly the same capacity as trustees, with important and non-derogable responsibilities toward four categories of “beings”: (1) non-adult humans alive today (the children and grandchildren who cannot yet vote); (2) later generations of our own species (think of the “seven-generations” approach taken in some Native American tradition); (3) other species, many of which are threatened now with extinction by human action (much of it intentional); and (4) the overall network of processes and relationships – we “shorthand” them as the lithosphere, the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, and the biosphere – that makes our Earth a living planet.

Accordingly, whether or not some amendment of voting-age rules get pursued (as some urge1), our own generation of adults – in the USA and globally, of course – has a special duty today to address existential crises that face not only our own well-being but the survivability of all four of those other categories of beings as well.

  1. David A. Lowe, It’s Time to Lower the Voting Age to 16, The Appeal (Nov. 3, 2020),; Why Should We Lower the Voting Age to 16?, Fair Vote,; Top Ten Reasons to Lower the Voting Age, Nat’l Youth Rights Assn.,