American Culture

An American president under age 35? Oh, my …

Captain Morgan’s real campaign premise here is just to increase its share of the rum market.

Tcm_logo_image-e1427478632990rump (age 70) vs. Clinton (age 68)? This is the best choice the vaunted two-party system can provide for Americans?

If they’d like better, they ought to begin drinking rum. Especially Captain Morgan, a brand owned by Diageo, which bills itself as “the world’s leading premium drinks business.”

Captain Morgan will campaign for a constitutional change — allowing American residents under 35 years old to serve as president.  A petition is already parked at the White House, hopeful of attracting at least 100,000 signees.

According to AdAge, “The effort will get significant paid support, including a print ad running in Tuesday’s New York Times.” Hey, Captain Morgan even plans a campaign-style bus tour. Adrienne Cuschieri Grooms, described by AdAge as a 33-year-old senior brand manager for Captain Morgan, makes the case for millennials:

It’s no secret that millennials have gradually been disengaging from the political process. The fact that there are very few elected under-35’s on Capitol Hill is symbolic of this disengagement, and bringing more young adults into the democratic system can only make our nation better. It’s not like we’re trying to create change for the sake of change. This is a very real and important issue. Millennials make up some of the most progressive, innovative, intelligent, and successful people in our country — why shouldn’t they be able to be president of the United States?”

Captain Morgan, of course, wants to sell more rum. Politics aside, that’s the campaign result sought. In classic demographic marketing pandering aimed only at those over 21 years old, Captain Morgan is riding on a single but salient fact: Millennials comprise 75 million of Americans, slightly edging out the boomers.

But is lowering the age for presidential eligibility a good idea?

I don’t know. But I’d like answers to some questions.

• Could millennials resist then alter political and economic systems that are fundamentally corrupt?

• Would voters allow millennial office holders to grow intellectually over time? And to change their opinions, perspectives, and votes without being penalized as “floppers”?

• Would an increase in millennial candidates for “down-ballot” races (statewide offices, Congress) in which lower age minimums apply influence how Americans think of the age of presidential eligibility? Especially if millennials begin winning those races in significant numbers?

• Could millennial candidates understand — and effectively convey that understanding — of issues facing different demographic and minority slices of the population?

• Would how millennials vote on the current choice for president — Trump vs. Clinton — influence how non-millennials should view the age of presidential eligibility?

There are more questions to consider, of course. And Captain Morgan’s real campaign premise here is just to increase its share of the rum market.

But millennials represent an economic, political, and cultural force now. Time to listen to them, and this is an issue on which we ought to pay heed to what they have to say.