Hello again, blogosphere! Nice to see you again.
Before I begin the “meat” of this post, I have to preface it with a tiny disclaimer. The topic of this post is one that emerged out of several preceding thoughts that do, in fact, relate to the recent activities within our AP Gov class. Essentially, I apologize if this seems off-topic, but it has a root in relevant studies.
Now time for the meat.
For the past couple of weeks, our class has split up into groups to work on an assignment where we design a completely new electoral system (it sounds a little grueling but once you get into it, it’s actually really cool). At the beginning of the project, my group decided to delve into researching current electoral systems. After divvying up some different tasks, we all then coalesced our ideas in a google doc and met via skype to discuss our findings (google docs, skype– classic online course, am I right?). Within some of our research, I was interested to see some of the marked differences in age restrictions among states. While at first I saw different laws allowing residents to register to vote at age 17 (though they aren’t allowed to vote until 18), these age restrictions got me thinking. One issue in the vein of age restrictions that is generally in the back of people’s minds is the the drinking age. While I understand that this can potentially be a touchy subject, I decided to do a little research on the drinking age in the United States and the struggle between a legal age of 18 or 21.
My findings included several interesting facts, some of which surprised me. Though the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was passed in 1984, eight different exceptions to the drinking age exist across a total of 40 US states. What I noticed however, among some of these exceptions (which range from educational purposes, to religious or medical purposes and even to the extent of parental consent in a facility that sells alcohol) was that some states tend to lean either on one extreme spectrum or the other. While I can easily understand the pros and cons of lowering the drinking age, one element of my brief research that I had most difficulty finding was any sort of happy medium. Naturally, some states aren’t entirely against or for exceptions toward the drinking age, but I was very surprised not to find a whole lot of means of compromise with regards to the topic.
As a high school senior soon off to college, I am constantly reminded of the bleak horrors of binge drinking in college. And while I commit to making smart, educated choices while in college, I can’t help but wonder about the social changes that could potentially be reconstructed with a lower drinking age. It seems that the United States is the one country that struggles the most with a legal drinking age and perhaps a solution would require some “alternative” methods. By the same token, organizations like MADD (mothers Against Drunk Driving) bring several valid and often heart-wrenching points to the table. Simply thinking about some of the stories these mothers have told are beyond heartbreaking. Ultimately, it seems like the issues we face mostly within the back-and-forth struggle with the drinking age stem largely from social and cultural norms. So, readers, I leave you (as usual) with a question: how do you change these social and cultural norms without endangering American youth? Perhaps it’s just an issue of time– society will change and so will different modes of technology that could potentially aid this situation. Regardless, I urge you to think about it and check out the link I posted below about exceptions to the NMDAA (National Minimum Drinking Age Act).
Thanks again for reading!