Kennedy: Young voters need their own political party

A voter looks from a booth while casting a ballot on Election Day in Philadelphia on Nov. 7, 2023. / AP Photo/Matt Rourke/File
A voter looks from a booth while casting a ballot on Election Day in Philadelphia on Nov. 7, 2023. / AP Photo/Matt Rourke/File

This November, for the first time, both of our sons will be of voting age.

Our younger son turns 18 at the end of October so he will meet the voter registration deadline for the November general election by a few days. Our older son will be 22 years old by Election Day.

(READ MORE: What to know and where to vote early in the Hamilton County primary election)

We don't talk about politics much at home, so I'm not sure where my sons fall on the political spectrum. I do know that I'm not one of those parents who feels the need to pass down my personal politics like a family heirloom.

I would tell the boys to make informed decisions. We already have enough voters who make lazy choices based on candidates' personalities and peer pressure. I might be naive, but I believe there was virtue in the 20th-century notion that pushing your politics on other people is both impolite and futile.

I read recently about a person who said his father had an interesting response to his political pronouncements. No matter how forceful his stated opinion, the person said, his father would always ask him, "So what is the strongest argument for the other side?"

I also believe the prevailing two-party system might be on its last legs. The Gallup polling organization recently released some numbers on party affiliation that might surprise you.

(READ MORE: Times Free Press Voter Guide 2024)

Gallup polled 12,000 Americans (which is an enormous sample size) and found that 27% of Americans identified as Democrats and 27% identified as Republicans. Meanwhile, 43% identified as independents.

Let that sink in.

Yes, we are polarized. But importantly, a rather large plurality of Americans don't want to be branded as members of either party. The time seems ripe for something different — and not just some rebranded Republican or Democrat seizing the "independent" lane on a whim.

If you are younger and the likely match-up of Joe Biden and Donald Trump leaves you disappointed and disengaged, let the 2024 election be the trigger for generational change.

(READ MORE: America stares down a Trump-Biden repeat in disbelief and denial)

An independent third party organized around whatever issues galvanize people under 50 seems like a plausible option at this point. A plank in this party's platform could be a constitutional amendment that says people over 75 cannot run for president of the United States. If the Constitution can bar people under 35 from running, why can't it have a cap age as well.

Or as my younger son told me this week, "If there's a minimum age, there should be a maximum age."

Too, this new younger people's party should be aligned with heartland populism. Did you know that every president since Ronald Reagan has attended an Ivy League college, a universe that constitutes about two-tenths of 1% of the U.S. adult population.

Nothing against the Ivies, but come on. Is there nobody from Stanford, or Northwestern, or Vanderbilt or one of our great land-grant public universities worthy of becoming our commander in chief? This tyranny of the educational elites has to end.

The next wave of national leaders should rise from the ranks of boot-strap entrepreneurs, respected influencers and master teachers. Or what about a president with experience running a farm or a day-care center or a construction business?

Frankly, this transition may require some resignation from older Americans. It wouldn't bother me if 2024 marks the last year that Americans turn to baby boomers or silent-generation members as presidential candidates.

It's about time for younger voters to take political power. It needs to happen sooner than later, but it's ultimately just a matter of time.

Contact Mark Kennedy at or 423-757-6645.

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