Let’s propose a toast, to the hopes of a lower drinking age

Jillian LeBlanc, Columnist

Congratulations, it’s your 18th birthday and you’re now “officially” an adult. The U.S. Government read your wish list, and they’re giving you a special gift this year, aka the rights of adulthood.

Now, you can officially be tried as an adult, you can marry, buy a gun, join the military and exercise freedom outside of parental control. You now have the same rights as your parents, grandparents, and anyone else above the age of 17.

According to the government, you are now old enough to make decisions about your life without parental consent. We raise our flutes of bubbly to you, since you’ve been accepted into the club of adulthood.

Just make sure that your glass contains sparkling water, because although you’re an adult, you’re not old enough to consume alcohol.

California and Minnesota have gained attention lately because both states are attempting to lower the drinking age. California would like to lower the drinking age to 18, allowing for legal adults to legally drink. Minnesota on the other hand, wants to pass a law that allows 18, 19, and 20-year-olds to drink alcohol in restaurants and bars.

As we’re all aware—or should be—the drinking age across the U.S. is 21, but that is not a federal law.

The law derives from each individual state, which is maintained by a small stipulation put forth by the federal government. This clause is found under the 1984 National Minimum Drinking Age Act [23 U.S.C 158], which provides states with highway funds, in exchange for enforcing the drinking age.

Naturally, every state agreed with this national act because they would receive thousands of dollars for this small change. On paper, this seems like a win-win deal with zero casualties. In reality, the government is rejecting their “new adults,” pushing them back into the role of children.

Someone could be an active member of the military for three years before they’re able to legally consume alcohol. Men and women can fight for our country and die for our freedom, but our soldiers cannot come home and enjoy a cold beer.

They’re treated like children, being told the same unsatisfying phrases we were told as kids; “sorry, but you’re not old enough,” “you’re too young,” “maybe when you’re older.”

We are denying adults a piece of adulthood.

California and Minnesota believe they found a loophole in the National Act, allowing them to change their laws without repercussions. Both states think it would be wise to lower the drinking age because it would acknowledge those adults that are typically ignored, it could serve to teach people about safe alcohol consumption, and it would provide more revenue to the states.

This change in Minnesota would then teach people how to drink socially, since those under 21 could not purchase alcohol at a liquor store. This would adopt the notion of a European standpoint, showing that alcohol is not wrong, and ultimately teaching people how to control their consumption.

Dwight B. Heath, an anthropology professor at Brown University, raises the notion that lowering the drinking age would diminish the taboo we associate with alcohol. Alcohol is this mystical thing that we cannot partake in, until we hit a certain age. Teens want to drink because its this naughty, unacceptable thing, until you’re deemed “old enough.”

This perspective has the potential to change, allowing the U.S. to move forward more productively. We have the chance to discourage our wayward youth, by making alcohol less of a taboo topic and more socially accepted. We have the ability to recognize adults in our society as full-fledged members of this world.

Its time for us to decide whether 18 is simply too young to be an adult, or 21 is too old to have an alcoholic beverage. California and Minnesota are paving the way, now its time for other states to follow and challenge this questionable law.

Lawmakers in Minnesota will decide upon this potential change, while voters in California voice their opinions. Things are happening here, a difference could possibly be made, and its time for everyone to start speaking up.

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