Should the GOP push to lower the drinking age to 18?

posted at 5:41 pm on April 24, 2014 by Allahpundit

Camille Paglia wants to see it happen. So does InstaGlenn, who adds that it’d be particularly smart for Republicans to take the lead on this since it would help ingratiate them to otherwise chilly left-leaning young voters. I remember reading his op-ed on this subject last year and nodding along, but the more I think about it, the more unsure I am. Would a Republican effort on the drinking age help them win young adults?

First, here’s Paglia:

Learning how to drink responsibly is a basic lesson in growing up — as it is in wine-drinking France or in Germany, with its family-oriented beer gardens and festivals. Wine was built into my own Italian-American upbringing, where children were given sips of my grandfather’s homemade wine. This civilized practice descends from antiquity. Beer was a nourishing food in Egypt and Mesopotamia, and wine was identified with the life force in Greece and Rome: In vino veritas (In wine, truth). Wine as a sacred symbol of unity and regeneration remains in the Christian Communion service. Virginia Woolf wrote that wine with a fine meal lights a “subtle and subterranean glow, which is the rich yellow flame of rational intercourse.”

What this cruel 1984 law did is deprive young people of safe spaces where they could happily drink cheap beer, socialize, chat and flirt in a free but controlled public environment. Hence in the 1980s we immediately got the scourge of crude binge drinking at campus fraternity keg parties, cut off from the adult world. Women in that boorish free-for-all were suddenly fighting off date rape. Club drugs — ecstasy, methamphetamine, ketamine (a veterinary tranquilizer) — surged at raves for teenagers and on the gay male circuit scene.

Okay, but how likely is it that lowering the drinking age by a few years would spark a cultural transformation in which American parents are suddenly pouring wine for their teenagers at dinner? Letting people drink at 18 might demystify alcohol a little but it’s hard for me to believe it would put a big dent in college binge-drinking, which is also a (sub-)cultural phenomenon. Alcohol laws barely exist for underaged college kids as it is; dropping the last remnants isn’t going to revolutionize the practice.

I’m more sympathetic to Glenn’s fairness argument, that it simply isn’t just to tell an 18-year-old that he’s adult enough to die for his country if need be but not quite adult enough to crack a Bud in front of a cop without getting arrested. If Republicans want to repeal the law for that reason, I’m all for it. But is this a political winner? Here’s what Gallup found when it polled the subject:

ga1

Remarkably consistent. A more recent poll, from 2010, also found the public heavily opposed, 27/69. But surely the numbers are different among young adults, no? They’re the coveted demographic, after all. The data:

ga3

There’s more support among young adults (especially among 18-20-year-olds, I’d bet) than there is among the wider population but even they’re overwhelmingly against lowering the age. Question, then: Would the GOP lose more older voters in pushing to lower the drinking age than they’d gain among the minority of younger voters who support lowering it? Remember, it’s older people and married couples (i.e. the parents of teenagers) who comprise much of the Republican base these days. Making a play for their kids with a measure like this — which is, after all, a boutique issue — carries a real risk of alienating them.

On the other hand, there’s a caveat to these numbers: Since 2007, when Gallup’s poll was taken, the public’s become vastly more agreeable to the idea of legalizing marijuana. It may be that, as they’ve liberalized on that drug, they’ve also quietly liberalized on teenage drinking and the big pollsters simply haven’t picked up on it yet. It’d be worth knowing that, just to see if a push on the drinking age is more viable than it used to be. But even that could be tricky. If the GOP’s older, married base is (a little) more open to legal weed than they used to be, might they be less open to letting teens drink in the belief that drug liberalization is now moving too fast? And is it even fair to extrapolate opinions on kids drinking from opinions on adults using pot? Lots of people sympathize with the idea that an adult should be free to put what he wants in his own body, but when you start pushing that principle on teenagers, they might get nervous.


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On this the French are ahead of us.

J.B. Say on April 24, 2014 at 9:51 PM

The drinking age should be lower than 18.

Wine in places like Italy or France, and beer in German and Belgium are viewed as foodstuffs, not as intoxicants. It is this stupid equivocation that alcohol=drugs in this country that leads us to delay the introduction of alcohol in an adolescents life. The postponement of moderate consumption leads to an introduction of alcohol by ones peers and no adult is around to put the brakes on and say ‘that’s enough for now’. This is the seed that germinates into a binge drinking culture.

It also doesn’t help that American Light Lagers taste awful and the best way to drink them is to bypass the tongue with a funnel and tube. Teach your kids that beer and wine are food; that they are to be consumed with food, and in moderation. Also, seek out good tasting craft beer.

And when teenage deaths from drinking and driving go up, don’t reflexively blame the drinking age. Changing the culture takes time. What you should do then is work to change the living arrangement in this country where we must drive to everything. Because, if you can walk to the bar or a friends house, you wouldn’t need to drive drunk back to your place.

IamJacksHotAir on April 24, 2014 at 10:18 PM

Just repeal the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984. It’s totally unconstitutional to begin with. The 21st Amendment didn’t just apply to some adults. Even the states, although they have the right to regulate alcohol in the 21st Amendment, probably needs to abide by equal treatment under the law for all adults. Exceptions being individuals who abused their right.

Why couldn’t they pass a law having a minimum gun ownership age of 28 if they can do it for alcohol?

Buddahpundit on April 24, 2014 at 10:28 PM

I find the polls oddly phrased and not very insightful. I think we abolish the drinking age completely. But I would oppose a federal law to do this. I would favor allowing the states to set their own drinking laws as they did before the federal drinking age was foisted on us through extortion of highway funds.

Hal_10000 on April 24, 2014 at 11:31 PM

We tried that once before & it didn’t go well. Why is it that we never learn?

RdLake on April 24, 2014 at 11:57 PM

And is it even fair to extrapolate opinions on kids drinking from opinions on adults using pot?

Spurious logic. We are talking about adults here in both cases. At 18, you are an adult. The fact that you cannot drink at that age does not make you any less of an adult. Changing the drinking age to 18 is still talking only about adults. The age should be the same for everything; to vote, military service, emancipation from one’s parents, drinking, etc..

It would be a very strange situation indeed if, in some states, you could use pot at 18, but could not drink a beer until 21. What is the age for pot in Colorado?

Theophile on April 25, 2014 at 5:03 AM

I’m not seeing much blame on Ronald Reagan in this thread, and that’s unsettling.

rusty_washington on April 25, 2014 at 6:47 AM

I am in favor of the Federal Government not dictating the drinking age.

Let the states decide.

If I were asked the first poll question in the post, I would say I do not favor a Federal law lowering the drinking age to 18. However; I do support my state lowering the drinking age in our state to 18.

Why do we keep getting sucked into these Federal Government solutions where there is none?

Why doesn’t the Federal Government rule over how long bars can be open or the hours for selling alcohol? States and localities seem to be perfectly capable of regulating hours of sale and hours of operation for bars, time to trust them with drinking age.

airupthere on April 25, 2014 at 8:35 AM

The drinking age should be lower than 18.
Wine in places like Italy or France, and beer in German and Belgium are viewed as foodstuffs, not as intoxicants. It is this stupid equivocation that alcohol=drugs in this country that leads us to delay the introduction of alcohol in an adolescents life. The postponement of moderate consumption leads to an introduction of alcohol by ones peers and no adult is around to put the brakes on and say ‘that’s enough for now’. This is the seed that germinates into a binge drinking culture.
It also doesn’t help that American Light Lagers taste awful and the best way to drink them is to bypass the tongue with a funnel and tube. Teach your kids that beer and wine are food; that they are to be consumed with food, and in moderation. Also, seek out good tasting craft beer.
And when teenage deaths from drinking and driving go up, don’t reflexively blame the drinking age. Changing the culture takes time. What you should do then is work to change the living arrangement in this country where we must drive to everything. Because, if you can walk to the bar or a friends house, you wouldn’t need to drive drunk back to your place.
IamJacksHotAir on April 24, 2014 at 10:18 PM

Sadly America’s helicopter parents will never let that happen. And they have the sensationalist mainstream media (especially the Nancy Grace-types) on their side.

royal flush on April 25, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Old enough to vote, old enough to serve, old enough to drink.

Lower it.

Good Lt on April 25, 2014 at 9:16 AM

When I was a kid, we could drink 3.2% beer at 18 and all the harder stuff at 21. The fact that I could put a beer in my hand did help me deflect invites to smoke dope, I have to admit.

That said, we have been slowly introducing our 16 and 18 year old daughters to quality beers and wines – our thinking being that it takes the novelty off and it develops their taste for the more expensive stuff (which is also filling). Hopefully, when in college, they’ll be better prepared to handle situations because of both established preferences and the lack of curiosity.

“Alcohol is a drug” is just an asinine trope that dopeheads use to make themselves feel better. That said, if we were really concerned about our young un’s welfare, we’d raise the driving age and age of national service together. Heck, why not set an “age of maturity” where they get everything at once?

Heh, heh, my kids don’t know whether to love me or hate me – excellent…

Cricket624 on April 25, 2014 at 9:25 AM

18 year can die in a war for his country but can’t drink.
Some society we live in I tell ya.

weedisgood on April 25, 2014 at 9:32 AM

How is it you can take a bullet for this country at 18 but not legally drink?

crrr6 on April 25, 2014 at 9:35 AM

When I was a kid, we could drink 3.2% beer at 18 and all the harder stuff at 21. . .
Cricket624 on April 25, 2014 at 9:25 AM

Same here. I will say that being able to legally drink beer at age 18 did nothing to reduce binge drinking at my college. Beer bongs, keg stands, drinking beer till you puked, were all pretty common among the students at my school.

mbs on April 25, 2014 at 9:36 AM

The unofficial drinking age is 18. The Federal Government threatened to withhold highway funds to states to that did not raise their drinking age to 18 back in the 1980s after being bullied (AKA – being lobbied hard) by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Well, I am most certainly against people driving drunk. Prosecute the heck out them. But 18 year olds can legally get married, enter into contracts, get an abortion, join the military …………………. but can’t be trusted with having a beer or glass of wine in front of their parents.

SC.Charlie on April 25, 2014 at 9:44 AM

How is it you can take a bullet for this country at 18 but not legally drink?

crrr6 on April 25, 2014 at 9:35 AM

It’s just another one of the extreme so-con positions.
When I was a little kid in a baptist church they told me the water Jesus turned in to wine was non-alcoholic but after I grew up I found out it was a lie.
So-cons have been lying about weed too.

weedisgood on April 25, 2014 at 9:45 AM

The military age is eighteen because at that age they are much less prepared to resist service and training than they would be at 21. Traditionally the idea was that they would be married and raising families by 21 or at least have jobs. My view is that they are plenty of trouble at 18 without having them exit bars at 2:00 AM completely tanked and ready to play road warrior. Maybe we should move the drinking age to 26.

claudius on April 25, 2014 at 9:48 AM

College towns use Minor in Possession violations as a means for revenue development. They arrest kids all weekend long so they can get the money. At Arizona State they stand outside of fraternity houses waiting to write kids up. I am not a big fan of teenage drinking but the over reach of the police makes it worth consideration.

politics4breakfast on April 25, 2014 at 10:07 AM

The military age is eighteen because at that age they are much less prepared to resist service and training than they would be at 21. Traditionally the idea was that they would be married and raising families by 21 or at least have jobs. My view is that they are plenty of trouble at 18 without having them exit bars at 2:00 AM completely tanked and ready to play road warrior. Maybe we should move the drinking age to 26. – claudius on April 25, 2014 at 9:48 AM

Well, in my day it was Vietnam or college at the age of 18. I chose college.

SC.Charlie on April 25, 2014 at 10:07 AM

How is it you can take a bullet for this country at 18 but not legally drink?

crrr6 on April 25, 2014 at 9:35 AM

It’s just another one of the extreme so-con positions.

weedisgood on April 25, 2014 at 9:45 AM

Er, the increase in the drinking age did not come from the ‘so-cons.’ It was the DIRECT result of the push by MADD.

I guess you believe that Prohibition was the product of so-cons rather than Progressives, too.

Resist We Much on April 25, 2014 at 10:22 AM

Do we have states anymore?

Is this a conservative website???

WTF?

faraway on April 25, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Hmmmm.
MADD lobbies in one city (DC), and gets what they want.

I suppose it is a lot easier, cheaper, and faster way to do it.

Just another symptom of the problem rotting this country.

Why spend money sending lobbyists to all 50 states or worse 3,144 counties when you can just pay for lobbyists in one city to get what you want.

Heck, you can spend a lot of money in DC and still come out ahead of spending money in every single state or county.

We used to have enumerated powers for the federal government and powers reserved for the states to protect against this behavior.

airupthere on April 25, 2014 at 10:47 AM

It’s just another one of the extreme so-con positions.
When I was a little kid in a baptist church they told me the water Jesus turned in to wine was non-alcoholic but after I grew up I found out it was a lie.
So-cons have been lying about weed too.

weedisgood on April 25, 2014 at 9:45 AM

How did I go from Social Conservative to Southern Baptist arguing for the grape juice miracle?

Axe on April 25, 2014 at 10:49 AM

The federal government has no reason to set the drinking age at all.

Axe on April 25, 2014 at 10:52 AM

I guess you believe that Prohibition was the product of so-cons rather than Progressives, too.

Resist We Much on April 25, 2014 at 10:22 AM

Of course he does.

Hi, Soph. :)

Axe on April 25, 2014 at 10:53 AM

The drinking age should be raised to 26.

nazo311 on April 25, 2014 at 10:54 AM

Do we have states anymore?

Is this a conservative website???

WTF?

faraway on April 25, 2014 at 10:41 AM

U.S. Code › Title 23 › Chapter 1 › § 158
23 U.S. Code § 158 – National minimum drinking age

(a) Withholding of Funds for Noncompliance.—
(1) In general.—
(A) Fiscal years before 2012.— The Secretary shall withhold 10 per centum of the amount required to be apportioned to any State under each of sections 104 (b)(1), 104 (b)(3), and 104 (b)(4) [1] of this title on the first day of each fiscal year after the second fiscal year beginning after September 30, 1985, in which the purchase or public possession in such State of any alcoholic beverage by a person who is less than twenty-one years of age is lawful.
(B) Fiscal year 2012 and thereafter.— For fiscal year 2012 and each fiscal year thereafter, the amount to be withheld under this section shall be an amount equal to 8 percent of the amount apportioned to the noncompliant State, as described in subparagraph (A), under paragraphs (1) and (2) of section 104 (b).

Thanks to the crazy thinking of our Supreme Court in South Dakota v. Dole this is constitutional. Apparently, it was not an attempt to coerce states into changing their laws because it only impacted a small percentage of the highway funding. It was only applying pressure, not insurmountable pressure.

Gag me.

airupthere on April 25, 2014 at 10:58 AM

I think both the GOP and the country have more important, substantive challenges to deal with than worrying about some frothy nonsense Glenn and Camille got up to over cocktails.

Recon5 on April 25, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Only idiots believe the 21 drinking age holds down any kids drinking. In college, it’s a sport.

It’s easy politics. That’s why it happened.

Moesart on April 25, 2014 at 11:00 AM

It’s fine to argue that 18 is too young, but then you should also be too young to vote, buy smokes or wear the uniform. Maybe all of these things should be brought up to 26 since 25 year olds are still children according to Obama.

crrr6 on April 25, 2014 at 11:02 AM

You’ve got to hand it to them; establishment Republicans have their fingers on the pulse. They know what matters.

ncjetsfan on April 25, 2014 at 11:03 AM

If the states want to set limits higher than the lower age limit for military service for various things, they can support “emancipation” for military service.

Axe on April 25, 2014 at 11:06 AM

I too like the idea of the states deciding for themselves what works for them. At the same time I don’t care for either of the extremes to you can not get it at all to you can get it at any hour of any day and at any street corner of any city, and ice cold and ready to guzzle down.

nivelkram on April 25, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Yes they should push them to lower the drinking age to 18, or raise the date for signing up with the selective services – draft – to 21. Of course if you are lucky enough to be born without a p&nis – and I’m using satire – then you arent forced to sigh up, and there is no risk that Uncle Sam is going to push you into involuntary servitude.

MoreLiberty on April 25, 2014 at 11:13 AM

+10000000000000000000000000000000000000

Resist We Much on April 24, 2014 at 6:02 PM

Slightly OT. I felt 100% safe watching footie in Qatar, 80% safe following my local team live……King’s Lynn Town (7 Level NPL) and darn worried watching my Premier League team live….Chelsea.

Footie in the UK is a contact sport…..for the fans! Alchol was a big part of the difference. Yep, I hoisted many pints before, during, and after. Did come home with two pockets full of quid.

HonestLib on April 25, 2014 at 11:39 AM

My parents allowed me and my brothers to drink at the dinner table when we were teenagers. By the time I went to college, I did not see the point of binge drinking.

BroncosRock on April 24, 2014 at 5:53 PM
This.

AH_C on April 24, 2014 at 6:08 PM

Same here and a 30 pack is just a good start for me. I did not let my kids drink until they were 21, well I did let them drink when we traveled where the drinking age is lower…..like the UK, and NONE of them drink for now. Maybe I was there negative role model! Chuckle!!!

HonestLib on April 25, 2014 at 11:44 AM

I started my daughter on beer and wine when she was a toddler. She started herself on scotch at a Saturday morning kiddush at age eighteen months. Today she is training to be a vascular neurologist, so it didn’t hurt SO much.

I don’t know whether the GOP can attract young voters over this issue or not, but I doubt that too many parents and grandparents would respond by voting for Hillary, much less Elizabeth Warren.

wbcoleman on April 25, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Social drinking = socialization i.e. adjusting to cultural norms via positive reinforcement of acceptable behavior and negative reinforcement of immaturity

Underage drinking = unrestrained consumption with disapproval earned only for failure to abuse alcohol on a regular basis.

Anything to hinder the ongoing Infantilization Of America is a good thing.

jangle12 on April 25, 2014 at 12:11 PM

I was a resident advisor on a dorm floor many years ago (at one of the top engineering schools in the nation), and alcohol in the hands of young people meant feces in the urinal, broken Exit signs, vomit in the hallway, and general rampant a-hole-ness.

The best behaved were the kids tripping on LSD. They just stayed in their rooms listening to Tangerine Dream and watching Nickelodeon.

segesta on April 25, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Old enough to go to war, old enough to go to the bar.

Whiskey Rebel on April 25, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Okay, but how likely is it that lowering the drinking age by a few years would spark a cultural transformation in which American parents are suddenly pouring wine for their teenagers at dinner?

Yeah, I don’t get that argument. Parents can already let their kids legally drink from their dinner table, so unless we’re talking about lowered alcohol content, I’m not sure how this would change teen feelings on alcohol and make sure they’re in a safe space. Bars are exactly the places where women are fending off getting drugged. And teens would be less conscious of that, not more.

Again, if you’re there with a parent, you can still legally drink now, at least in Texas. So these safety issues just make no sense to me.

As to the, “old enough to serve, old enough to drink” adage, I agree, but I’d also argue that an 18-year-old serving is far more mature than one heading to college (where his older classmates will hook him up anyway), so I’d prefer just giving them an exception. If you’re old and mature enough to serve, then you can drink.

Lastly, I’ve been persuaded by one argument. Lowered the age doesn’t just lower the age of those who can drink but also gives those who are underage more access to those who can drink. If the age is 18, then high school kids automatically have more access since they’re more likely to know someone who’s 18 rather than 21, whereas 21 keeps it mostly at the college level.

I’m not strong on this issue either way. I’m just not persuaded that it’ll make anything better if parents aren’t already educating their children.

Esthier on April 25, 2014 at 12:25 PM

Why don’t we raise the voting age, instead? Perhaps as part of a Constitutional convention. Problem solved.

K. Hobbit on April 25, 2014 at 1:15 PM

Sadly, this issue is a zero sum game. You can’t gain votes with the young crowd without losing votes amongst the older, institutional morality crowd. In the best case scenario the GOP gains nothing. In the worst case scenario they fail to lure these young voters, lose the older voters, and come off looking like hypocrites.

If anybody is going to advocate lowering the drinking age, let it be the Democrats. If the GOP can just manage to keep their mouth shut and not raise a fuss, then perhaps the Dems could be successful and nobody would win or lose anything as a result.

ConservOvrGOP on April 25, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Why not? The GOP will sell its soul for Hispanic votes,so why not young drunks,potheads and babykilers while they’re at it.

redware on April 25, 2014 at 1:53 PM

Almost a century ago, it was the societal norm that people were getting married and starting families in their late teens or early 20s. Young minds were expected to gain a decent degree of maturity by that age. And back then, age limits on booze were arbitrary or even nonexistent in some areas… it was up to the parents to decide if their kids were old enough to imbibe beer, wine or whatnot.

Today, the phenomenon of the “man-child” is prevalent in America, where people in their early 20s are still mooching off their parents and treating life like one big 24-hour party. I’ve a feeling our creeping-upward age limits on everything had a little to do with that.

I’m concerned that if we raise the drinking age again to 25-26, like some here are suggesting, that we’re gonna see an increase in “man-child” behavior among those in their late 20s.

Sometimes you can’t trust people with certain dangerous things unless you let them experience them legally. Personally, I’d lower the drinking age to 16 and require all teens to pass a drug/alcohol awareness course before they can legally imbibe, but I’m cool with 18. (I still think the mandatory course is a good idea, though.)

TMOverbeck on April 25, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Let the states decide. I think beer sales to 18 YO’s on premises would be fine.

Jay Galt on April 25, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Just repeal the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984. It’s totally unconstitutional to begin with. The 21st Amendment didn’t just apply to some adults. Even the states, although they have the right to regulate alcohol in the 21st Amendment, probably needs to abide by equal treatment under the law for all adults. Exceptions being individuals who abused their right.

Buddahpundit on April 24, 2014 at 10:28 PM

I’m sure there’s a lot of fancy tap-dancing that went on to claim that it was constitutional. “We’re not directly setting a legal drinking age… we’re just gonna give less money to those states that won’t raise their drinking age to 21.” And even if there was a prospect of taking a related case to the SCOTUS in the hopes of them ruling the law unconstitutional, I don’t know if any lawyer would want to touch it… for the same reason we’re not seeing any states going rogue and lowering their drinking age by themselves, federal funds be damned.

Like I said, I’m all for tight, strict regulations and penalties concerning alcohol and alcohol abuse, and for requiring 18-year-olds to pass an (equally strict) awareness course before they can legally drink. But I don’t like the easy way out of just banning stuff that’s risky.

TMOverbeck on April 25, 2014 at 2:36 PM

Should the GOP push to lower the drinking age to 18?

Hell yeah… these 21 yo’s in the gay bars have too much attitude.

Willys on April 25, 2014 at 2:37 PM

Meh, I don’t care that much either way.

Push to remove the Federal restrictions and punishments (from highway funding restrictions) for not having it at 21+ at a state level and let the states sort it out.

As long as you take it away from the Feds and stop them from using it as a hammer to control states I’m good even if some/most states don’t feel like changing it.

gekkobear on April 25, 2014 at 3:14 PM

I don’t see anything about drinking age on this list, so the Feds shouldn’t have anything to do with it at all.

cthulhu on April 25, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Raise the drinking age to 26, and the voting age too. If they’re kids for the purpose of health insurance let them be kids in every way.

claudius on April 25, 2014 at 3:29 PM

On this the French are ahead of us.

J.B. Say on April 24, 2014 at 9:51 PM

The French? You mean the whole of Europe…drinking age in eurooe is been 18 since forever..heck the whole world actually (minus middle east and mueslis countries)…I was on vacation in Bali a while ago and i was surprised to see that they didn’t ask anybody for ID there, regardless of the age, apparently there is no drinking age limit and no such law there…lots of European kids on vacation there quite happy with it :) …

jimver on April 25, 2014 at 4:56 PM

I’m sure there’s a lot of fancy tap-dancing that went on to claim that it was constitutional. “We’re not directly setting a legal drinking age… we’re just gonna give less money to those states that won’t raise their drinking age to 21.” And even if there was a prospect of taking a related case to the SCOTUS in the hopes of them ruling the law unconstitutional, I don’t know if any lawyer would want to touch it… for the same reason we’re not seeing any states going rogue and lowering their drinking age by themselves, federal funds be damned.

Like I said, I’m all for tight, strict regulations and penalties concerning alcohol and alcohol abuse, and for requiring 18-year-olds to pass an (equally strict) awareness course before they can legally drink. But I don’t like the easy way out of just banning stuff that’s risky.

TMOverbeck on April 25, 2014 at 2:36 PM

It was challenged at the Supreme Court in 1986. In a 7-2 decision they upheld the fed’s ability to control drinking age because:
1. It was for the “General Welfare”
2. Congress has power of the purse
3. Removing a couple of a percentage points of highway funding was not “unduly coercive”

South Dakota v. Dole

I definitely don’t agree with this, but our country is now sitting atop many rulings of this nature that don’t pass the straight face test of constitutionality. We need a blank slate to wipe out a lot of these idiotic rulings.

airupthere on April 25, 2014 at 5:10 PM

Limiting drunk driving is the only good reason for setting the drinking age at 21. And it’s a pretty damn good reason.

If you can figure out how to reduce drunk driving by younger drivers at the same time as you abolish the drinking age, then by all means abolish the drinking age.

Edouard on April 25, 2014 at 6:29 PM

Limiting drunk driving is the only good reason for setting the drinking age at 21. And it’s a pretty damn good reason.

If you can figure out how to reduce drunk driving by younger drivers at the same time as you abolish the drinking age, then by all means abolish the drinking age.

Edouard on April 25, 2014 at 6:29 PM

True, in most of Europe the legal age for driving is the same as the drinking one, 18…i think it should be 18 here too, for both…

jimver on April 25, 2014 at 7:11 PM

Should be 18, if there is to be any at all.

Knighthawk on April 25, 2014 at 10:02 PM

I was able to drink when I turned 18. Way back when. . . They ought to change the law to be able to drink when they turn 18 and then raise the driving age to 18 too.

Actually I think the GOP making the suggestion couldn’t hurt with the youth vote.

COgirl on April 26, 2014 at 12:01 AM

It was challenged at the Supreme Court in 1986. In a 7-2 decision they upheld the fed’s ability to control drinking age

airupthere on April 25, 2014 at 5:10 PM

O’Connor and Brennan. Can’t even grab much hope from the dissent except for that it was probably O’Connor’s finest moment.

The use of “general welfare” is ridiculous because it’s not general welfare if a state has its own idea of its own welfare. You could ban guns and claim “general welfare” if it can trump rights.

But it looks like any state can lower their drinking age to 18 right now. Would they really take a hit on highway funding? I don’t think they would. Maybe South Dakota is the state that should do it since they brought the original challenge. I think it forces congress to repeal because of some changes in the current thinking from back then. The internet wasn’t around then so these people could get away with all kinds of crap without having to answer to it.

Wait a second, why isn’t congress cutting off highway funding for Colorado and Washington for totally disregarding federal law? It’s okay to cut off a state’s funding for abiding by the Constitution, the 21st Amendment, but we can’t cut off a state’s funding for totally disregarding federal law with no Constitutional case to be made for it when it comes to marijuana?

Now I’m really pissed. This can’t stand.

Buddahpundit on April 26, 2014 at 12:11 AM

Okay, but how likely is it that lowering the drinking age by a few years would spark a cultural transformation in which American parents are suddenly pouring wine for their teenagers at dinner?

It’s not obvious that anything good can happen with Hollywood, courts and the political class promoting degeneracy 24/7. (Repeal the Hollywood tax cuts!)

But you can’t even start promoting a healthier culture if its still illegal.

David Blue on April 26, 2014 at 5:40 AM

Should the GOP push to lower the drinking age to 18?

Those who want to drink that badly at that age are already idiots, so why make it worse?

Besides, this would be a boon for men (especially the younger ones) to get the chicks to become more, er, “accessible” I guess you could say.

I mean, really now, you don’t want your daughters, granddaughters, and nieces to be virgins forever now, do you?/s

Dr. ZhivBlago on April 26, 2014 at 8:07 AM

The drinking voting age should be raised to 26.
nazo311 on April 25, 2014 at 10:54 AM

FIFY.

nullrouted on April 26, 2014 at 11:00 AM

It’s clear to me that most of you don’t actually know (or haven’t in a very long time) anyone that isn’t your own kid that is 14-18 or so. They are ALL drinking (and most of the time, doing a lot more than that). The drinking age should be dropped to 18 for sure. We let these dimwit kids VOTE at 18, might as well let them kill themselves too (Darwin award and all that).

Bottom line is that it’s not society’s place to dictate stuff like this, and the only parents complaining about it are the ones who don’t know how to raise a child in the first place, and would rather society do it for them.

nullrouted on April 26, 2014 at 11:04 AM

Lowering the drinking age alone is likely to cause frantic pearl-clutching and finger pointing on the Left (“Oh! The children students!”). It’s a much harder argument to counter if you come out for a law forbidding nonuniform treatment of legal adults.

PersonFromPorlock on April 26, 2014 at 2:55 PM

I understand the meme that if you can die for your country (at 19), you can drink for yourself. I get it.

So how about we allow 18 year olds to drink, IF they are members of the Armed Forces? There would be responsible adults in charge of them, to adjust negative consequences.
And it might improve recruitment!

BTW, you can’t get a completely unrestricted drivers’ licence until you’re 23 years old. If you want to drive something big & heavy, like a truck, you need a Class A licence. For that, you must be 23 years old. Sixteen, 18, even 21; doesn’t get you the full credentials.

ReggieA on April 26, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Limiting drunk driving is the only good reason for setting the drinking age at 21. And it’s a pretty damn good reason.

If you can figure out how to reduce drunk driving by younger drivers at the same time as you abolish the drinking age, then by all means abolish the drinking age.

Edouard on April 25, 2014 at 6:29 PM

32% of drunk drivers involved in a fatal crash were 21-24, followed by 25-34 year olds at 30%.

Following that logic why not raise the federal drinking age to 34 and take a big bite out of 62% of drunk driving fatalities? Common good and all that.

If the federal drinking age law were repealed, all 50 states still have 21 as the legal age. The States would still have to choose to lower their drinking age.

Let the states play the games of justifying lowering the drinking age.

airupthere on April 26, 2014 at 4:45 PM

A thought just occurred to me.
Tobacco companies cannot advertise on television and the smoking age is 18. Joe Camel kills kids.

Beer companies can splatter advertising everywhere and the drinking age is 21. The Budweiser frogs were evidently targeted to an older audience.

It’s a strange world we live in.

airupthere on April 26, 2014 at 4:47 PM

I’ll go ahead and reinforce the stereotype. I’m Russian, and on my high school prom, the school served champagne to students and teachers. We were prohibited to go outside and buy alcohol and bring it to school. High school proms in Russia go until 6-7 am. We went out and bought hard liquor, brought it back to school and were caught by our gym teacher and kicked out of the prom.

That being said, I still think alcohol should be legal since 18 but it’s a state issue. National GOP has no business having a position on this one way or the other.

PBH on April 26, 2014 at 8:15 PM

Limiting drunk driving is the only good reason for setting the drinking age at 21. And it’s a pretty damn good reason.

Edouard on April 25, 2014 at 6:29 PM

The voting age was higher for very similar reasons until our culture lost its collective mind. Doubly so when we tore down traditional values with a passion, leaving the average 18 year old about as responsible and logical as an alley cat with a catnip-laced collar.

LawfulGood on April 27, 2014 at 12:54 PM

If you’re old enough to shoot somebody in a warzone, you’re old enough to drink. Don’t know if this should be a GOP priority though…

John_G on April 27, 2014 at 2:48 PM

How about this: lower the drinking age to zero. Admit that you have no idea how to run someone else’s life.

spmat on April 27, 2014 at 5:29 PM

We are thinking way to narrow on this.

How about we de-couple tax dollars from Federal social engineering.

No more holding tax dollars captive because a state wishes to have a different “standard” for whatever issue you can think of, drinking age, drug laws, seat belt laws, helmet laws, standardized testing, etc…

Have a simple funding formula, apportion all Federal to State transfers of money according to population.

Take the power out of the Federal level in deciding where money goes.

Keith_Indy on April 28, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Wow! You really want to lower the drinking age?

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) reports that more than 37,000 deaths occur each year due to alcohol abuse. Alcohol hinders your neurological system, effectively blocking glutamate receptors, slowing down brain response and with enough can be fatal, ultimately ending subconscious controls like breathing and heartbeat. It takes just ten times the amount of alcohol that gives you the desired effect to lead to death. Alcohol use leads to the increased risk of cancers in the mouth, throat, larynx, liver, colon, and breasts.

Yet just to gain some votes you now want this toxic poison, alcohol, to be easily accessible for the youth.

While at the same time you’re against the legalization of the much safer and more popular marijuana in which the CDC does not have a category for marijuana related deaths because there has never been a single death caused by the consumption of marijuana.

If anything alcohol & tobacco need to be criminalized and Not given to the youth to draw young voters.

JustTheFacts on April 28, 2014 at 10:20 AM

While at the same time you’re against the legalization of the much safer and more popular marijuana in which the CDC does not have a category for marijuana related deaths because there has never been a single death caused by the consumption of marijuana.

JustNoFacts on April 28, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Couldn’t make it up if we tried, folks.

LawfulGood on August 30, 2014 at 4:01 AM

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