Obama: No Lowering of Drinking Age

Barack Obama today told war veterans he won't lower the drinking age.

Army veteran Ernest Johnson, 23, of Connecticut, said one of the things that peeved him before he turned 21 was that he couldn't come home and drink a beer _ even though he was old enough to serve in the armed services and die for his country.

Obama told Johnson he sympathized, but that setting the legal drinking age at 21 had helped reduce drunken driving incidents and should remain.

As I noted here, more states are considering lowering the drinking age. Sounds like Obama has fallen for the myths about underage drinking.

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    Why not just let anyone with (1.00 / 0) (#17)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 09:11:19 PM EST
    a valid military ID drink? All others, age 21.

    Equality under the law.... (none / 0) (#25)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 09:52:55 AM EST
    comes to mind.

    It's easier just to set 18 as the official age of adulthood, and let freedom ring.


    18 year old adults? (none / 0) (#27)
    by Lora on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 10:04:30 AM EST
    How many 18 year olds do you know that you would consider fully mature adults?

    I work at a university.  I don't know too many.  The research shows that if you raise the drinking age, drinking related accidents go down in that age group (see my other post this thread).

    I'm all for legally drinking at 18.  But I want to be safe on the road and for them to be safe on the road as well.

    Unless we can actually keep drunk drivers off the road and prevent such accidents, I'm not for lowering the drinking age.


    It's a simple question... (none / 0) (#28)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 10:49:43 AM EST
    of liberty to me.  The state has no right to deny 18 year olds their beverage of choice, period, case closed.  Under 18 and your officially a minor, I'd allow them to drink only with parental consent.

    Heck, I'm 30 and sometimes wonder if I am a mature adult:)  There are 18 year olds more mature than me, and some less mature.  Age is no way to measure maturity.  Besides, liberty is not reserved for the mature, but for every adult, even the knuckleheads among us.

    A better argument would be to make 21 the official age of adulthood, and raise the age to vote, go to war, and smoke.  At least that is consistent, though I much prefer 18.



    what right? (none / 0) (#33)
    by Lora on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 04:14:53 PM EST
    The state has no right to deny 18 year olds their beverage of choice, period, case closed.

    The state denies all of us certain choices.  Some I don't agree with, but the state has that "right."

    I'll be happy to keep 18 year olds away from alcohol so that they don't compete with the 21-24 year olds for this statistic (2005, NHTSA):

    The highest percentage of drivers in fatal crashes who had BAC levels of .08 or
    higher was for drivers ages 21 to 24 followed by the 25 to 34 age group.

    Do you really want an increase in alcohol-related fatalities?  Do you really want more 18 year-olds and their friends and innocent strangers killed, or have the death of someone on their conscience and affecting their future for the rest of their lives?


    Maturity doesn't equal chronological age (none / 0) (#1)
    by Beldar on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 08:20:36 PM EST
    Any age limit is somewhat arbitrary.  On the whole, though, there's some value to consistency in arbitrariness.  If you're an adult for other purposes at 18, you should be for drinking, too.

    I agree (none / 0) (#5)
    by litigatormom on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 08:37:18 PM EST
    I think an 21 year old age limit actually discourages responsible drinking. Many kids flout the law with a fake ID, and others engage in binge drinking whenever they get access to a keg of beer or a grain alcohol punch.

    Also, the 21 year old age limit drives alcohol off campus, resulting in more driving and drinking.  

    If you can fight and vote, you should be able to buy a beer.


    Raising the age (none / 0) (#9)
    by MKS on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 08:42:09 PM EST
    would I'm afraid only encourage more drinking by those the least mature....

    Drinking is a great worry to parents of teenagers.  There is logic for raising the age limit....but it just does not sound safer....  


    Obama's safe responses (none / 0) (#2)
    by Prabhata on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 08:34:23 PM EST
    For someone who talks about change, he goes for the devil we know is better than the devil we don't know.  I've also seen his me too responses in debates.  So other than his talk about change, I cannot point anything that he's said that is not ordinary.

    I prefer 19 myself (none / 0) (#3)
    by davnee on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 08:34:41 PM EST
    I prefer 19 to reduce the number of high school seniors that can legally bring a six pack to a party, but that doesn't mesh well with the reality that we treat people as adults at 18.  Besides making alcohol illegal under 21 doesn't really prevent underage drinking.  It just pushes it into sometimes dark and dangerous corners.  I am sympathetic to the view that vices like booze, prostitution and less dangerous drugs like pot should be legalized  and regulated.

    Why Not Higher Still (none / 0) (#4)
    by Coral Gables on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 08:35:47 PM EST
    If raising the drinking age to 21 reduces drunk driving accidents, imagine what it would do if the age were raised to 30...better yet why not 90 and eliminate the problem completely.

    How about, raise the age for enlisting in the military to 30. Make them old enough to realize what they are signing up for.

    We want them in the military at 18 to "burn women, kids, houses, and villages"* and oblivious enough to think they can't be killed, but they aren't considered old enough to have a beer. The twisted logic we use is oftentimes astounding.

    *Quoted with the utmost respect to Arlo Guthrie

    Perhaps (none / 0) (#6)
    by americanincanada on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 08:37:44 PM EST
    it's the voting age we should raise...

    Or cap it... (none / 0) (#8)
    by cannondaddy on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 08:41:44 PM EST
    Does This Mean He Loses His Support (none / 0) (#7)
    by MO Blue on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 08:38:10 PM EST
    from the 18 to 20 year old crowd? (snark for those who snarkameters aren't working tonight)

    There goes his youth vote (none / 0) (#10)
    by echinopsia on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 08:49:53 PM EST
    But you beat me to it.

    When I was 18 I was a senior in HS, and I could legally drink. I could (and did) to go to bars and drink until 4 a.m. In high school.

    Coincidentally that was the year after voting age became 18, so I was one of the first 18-year-olds to vote in a presidential election.

    Anyway, just my 2 cents: 18-year-olds should not be allowed to buy alcohol.


    well, you turned out okay (none / 0) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 08:53:00 PM EST
    so why shouldn't today's kids have the same opportunity? The drinking age was 18 when I turned 18 as well. Those were fun times.

    Those were fun times (none / 0) (#14)
    by echinopsia on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 09:02:35 PM EST
    But times have changed. Back then nobody was going to slip me a roofie. Back then I probably could have passed out and been perfectly safe. Also, this was in a township where I could walk home safely at 4 a.m.

    Of course, back when we were kids, Jeralyn, we could walk six blocks to school every day and it was no big deal. We could go outside and play all day unsupervised and our parents didn't worry as long as we got home for dinner.

    Our generation may turn out to be the last (only) one to be able to have all the fun with sex,drugs and rock and roll with no consequences and still turn out OK.


    Times always change... (none / 0) (#26)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 09:55:23 AM EST
    no reason to deny 18 year olds the rights endowed to them by their creator.

    Just say no to tyranny.


    Great Minds Think Allike (none / 0) (#13)
    by MO Blue on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 09:00:10 PM EST
    Back to the real issue, I go back and forth on this one. Can't seem to make up my mind. On one hand 18 year olds find a way to drink if they want to drink and OTOH I'm not a fan of kids in HS spending time in bars and driving home afterwards.

    experiments (none / 0) (#11)
    by Nasarius on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 08:51:46 PM EST
    Carl Sagan once wrote that every political decision is an experiment. And so to make good decisions, you should look at what other countries and localities have done, and see the results.

    And so in the US you see a high drinking age, open container laws, a very harsh attitude towards underage drinking, etc, with lousy results. And we see less of a problem in countries with more lenient laws. We can at least conclude that harsh laws do not produce good results.

    I doubt lowering the drinking age would help too much -- there are larger social and cultural issues involved -- but why stick with a bad, unproductive law?

    Maybe Obama did his research (none / 0) (#15)
    by Lora on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 09:10:39 PM EST
    Results from a CDC study:

    These results suggest that changes in the MLDA [minimum legal drinking age] result in changes of roughly 10% to 16% in alcohol-related crash outcomes for the targeted age groups, decreasing when the MLDA is raised, and increasing when it is lowered.

    Hillary (none / 0) (#16)
    by diogenes on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 09:10:59 PM EST
    What is Hillary's position on this subject, since there is a tight race between the two for the nomination?

    My ('under age') Marines Deserved a Freakin Drink! (none / 0) (#19)
    by windypoo on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 09:32:25 PM EST
    Let me just say that when each of my 3 sons came home from Marine Corps Boot Camp, it was an HONOR for my husband & I to sit down and have an adult beverage with them. If a man is willing to die for his country, he has earned the right for his parents to toast him with the beverage of his choice. Period. So, shut up, Barack: you know nothing of what is important to Americans.

    This is like asking a Pres. primary (none / 0) (#20)
    by oculus on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 09:47:33 PM EST
    candidate if he favors permitting undocumented persons to apply for drivers licenses.  State law issue.  Why cares what Obama thinks?

    Not really (none / 0) (#21)
    by badger on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 10:23:39 PM EST
    The state-established drinking age has been tied to the availability of Federal highway funds, so it is national policy issue.

    He miust have been in a (none / 0) (#22)
    by facta non verba on Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 11:08:36 PM EST
    foul mood. The thread above was how he made a mistake in raising his hand at a debate on question whether or not to decriminalize marijuana. Now I read this.

    The problem with the drinking age is that it remains a emotional issue for many. Mothers Against Drunk Driving has sway. I think that if 18 year old is old enough to die for their country, then they might be allowed a drink before hand. The obvious solution is more education and tying it rock hard to their driver's licenses. Drink and Drive and you're done until you're 23 or 25.

    Any studies on the effectiveness of the law in curbing underage drinking?

    I think Obama is right. (none / 0) (#24)
    by DodgeIND on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 08:28:10 AM EST
    Don't lower the drinking age, I agree.

    Here's a better link for learning about teenage drinking, I don't think that little crack on Obama was warranted.


    You lost me.... (none / 0) (#31)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 12:54:23 PM EST
    at .gov....lol.

    Seriuosly though, you are free to advocate that people, 19 yrs. old, 29, or 79, abstain from drinking alcohol.  Just don't deny them their liberty to ignore you if they so choose.


    fwiw (none / 0) (#29)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 12:31:02 PM EST
    when I was young the drinking age was 18 and we still drank underage. In fact frequent underage excessive drinking started the first or second week of HS, when I was 14.  

    We got older friends/sibs to buy us beer, modified/forged driver's license's, played Quarters, Whale's Tails, Zoom Schwartz Difigleano, etc., until we puked, and when we got our licenses (age 16, iirc) we drove drunk as skunks, every time. And so did everyone else.

    This anecdotal experience fully supports the CDC analysis above. Lowering the drinking age does not lower underage drinking.

    If the drinking age was 16, there would still be underage drinking, sometimes in dark and dangerous corners.

    Our culture is different from other cultures, therefor saying "lookee thar, them folks have much more relaxed attitudes/laws, etc., and they don't have near the problem we do." is not helpful.

    I think we should all accept the reality that the statistics show that raising the drinking age above the age kids get their driver's license results in fewer deaths, and lowering it below the DL age results in increased deaths.

    So I think the question we should all be asking ourselves is "imo, is the additional loss of life by lowering the drinking age an acceptable consequence of freedom/legal-logical consistency/nostalgia/whatever the reason may be be?"

    I don't there is one "right" answer...

    Easy question for me.... (none / 0) (#30)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 12:52:11 PM EST
    any potential lives saved does not justify the tyranny.

    But then again, I'm a self-admitted freedom extremist.  Reasonable people will surely disagree.


    Yeah man, (none / 0) (#32)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Mar 18, 2008 at 01:04:13 PM EST
    I knew where you would come down on this one. :-)

    Gotta say, you never try to hide behind make-believe reasons to make your support of difficult positions more palatable.

    Wish we saw more of that around here.