Last week Jews around the world celebrated the holiday of Purim. Starting two weeks before the holiday, we revel in a party-like atmosphere. Jewish elementary schools hold silly hat and pajama days, and you can find an abundance of singing, antics and humorous spoofs in high schools. So, forgive me for thinking that someone was pulling my leg when they mentioned that Nancy Pelosi advocated lowering the voting age to sixteen.
But Purim has passed and those same news reports persist. It is hard to hear this being discussed as a serious civic suggestion rather than what it really is—a desperate grab for power. I mean no disrespect to the teenagers in my life, some of whom happen to be better-informed and more stable than many of their elders. Still, perhaps this raises the question of whether it is time to see beyond the abuses of the past and restrict voting to those who can pass a basics civics and history exam. While this is probably politically untenable, unlike lowering the voting age it might actually result in a government more capable of maintaining the republic our Founders envisioned.
Recently, in a Wall Street Journal interview, actor Mark Hamill, best known as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars movies, made a pertinent point. He spoke of how as a teenager he thought it was awesome that the Beatles in the movie A Hard Day’s Night had hordes of girls running after them. It sounded like a pretty good situation to him. A few decades later, when he found it difficult to have a quiet outing because of fans approaching him, he saw things a bit differently. As he put it, “What strikes me now is that it’s like a horror movie. These guys are absolutely trapped.” Funny how real life can differ from our adolescent dreams. Life experience doesn’t automatically convey wisdom and maturity but limited life experience makes wisdom and maturity almost unattainable.
A classic book not only stands up to the test of re-reading, it is a different book each time you read it. Most young girls who read Little Women, for example, identify with Jo. Who doesn’t think of herself as clever, talented and a bit feisty? Yet, a few years down the road that same young woman might identify a bit more with Meg or even with Marmee. And, Heaven help us, at some point crotchety and cantankerous Aunt March seems closest to one’s own stage of life though, hopefully, not to one’s temperament.
Thinking of Aunt March actually brings my mind back to Nancy Pelosi.
Perhaps it is time for the Ms. (what exactly is the plural of Ms.?) Pelosi and Waters, to pick two names, to lead by example. They could resign in favor of others who are more popular with the sixteen-year-old crowd. After all, would Senator Taylor Swift or Senator Kim Kardashian really be any worse than what we now have?