A novel approach to democracy from a Republican Senate candidate – give parents extra voting power

A novel approach to democracy from a Republican Senate candidate – give parents extra voting power

He wants to curb the influence of the “childless left”

An intriguing idea is being put forward by J.D Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy and Republican candidate for the vacant seat for Ohio on the US Senate. In an attack on what he terms the “childless left” he’s proposed a radical scheme to give parents of children under the age of 18 extra voting power.

He’s quoted in The Week as saying:

“The Democrats are talking about giving the vote to 16-year-olds,” Vance said. “Let’s do this instead. Let’s give votes to all children in this country, but let’s give control over those votes to the parents of the children.” He added: “Doesn’t this mean that non-parents don’t have as much of a voice as parents? Doesn’t this mean that parents get a bigger say in how democracy functions?” His answer, according to The Federalist website, was “yes.”

The Week article goes on:

Vance has good reason to believe that giving parents an extra vote or two — or three or four, or more  — might empower conservatives at the expense of Democrats. The Institute for Family Studies, a “pro-natalist” think tank, found that during the 2020 election, pro-Joe Biden counties had fertility rates 25 percent lower than counties that went for Donald Trump. “Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, increasingly inhabit different worlds in terms of family life,” the demographer Lyman Stone wrote in an IFS blog post after the election. Given how close the presidential vote margin can be in swing states, it’s not hard to imagine that stacking the deck in favor of parents might produce more GOP-friendly results in the future.

Whatever the merits of this I am far from convinced that it would have desired political effect. We do know that the younger voters are the more likely to back non-right wing candidates and the vast majority of those for whom this would apply would be under 50.

Also what happens if there has been a marital split? Would the partner with the custody get the child’s vote? And what happens if parents have different political positions?

Mike Smithson

Mike Smithson

Mike Smithson

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