CHRIS BEDELL
Staff Writer

The drinking age has got to be the United States’ biggest failure. The fact that the legal drinking age is 21 and not 18 needs to be examined more thoroughly.

The reality is that a lot of people under 21 still drink anyway. And you know what? I don’t endorse underage drinking since it is technically illegal, but I can’t blame people who drink that are underage.

Prohibition doesn’t work. The United States’ history proves that. Prohibition clearly applies to underage drinkers. It would be so much better to just teach people to drink responsibly. Making alcohol the enemy isn’t going to work. It only makes alcohol more tempting. You think that would be the last thing that parents want. After all, binge drinking is a big thing for some college students. And while I’m not trying to demonize occasionally having too much to drink, that still doesn’t change the fact that it’s a bad idea.

It is also kind of a joke that parents have the attitude that if they don’t see their child drinking they won’t get mad. I will concede that it’s good for a parent to be able to trust their child and not jump to conclusions, but it only enables the problem more. Parents can teach their children how to handle alcohol. And that’s the right thing to do.

I might be one of the most progressive Democrats out there, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that the government had no business interfering by raising the drinking age to 21 back in the 1980s via intimidation with the national highway funds.

There’s also the issue of how a person can serve in the Army at 18 but can’t drink. That picture doesn’t really make sense. If a person is old enough to die for their country, then surely alcohol isn’t the biggest enemy.

One cannot forget about the role of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in campaigning for a higher drinking age. The reality is that if you repeat something often enough, it becomes true and people will think that it’s God’s truth.

The online Huffington Post article, “Is the National Drinking Age Doing More Harm Than Good?” by Sam Tracy mentions how MADD fear-mongered and how the decline of drunk driving-related deaths actually began in the 1970s before the drinking age was lowered. Tracy believes the decline is likely due to increased public awareness and lowering the Blood Alcohol Content limit instead. The same article also brings up that no study has actually proven a cause-and-effect relationship between a higher drinking age and less drunk driving deaths.

Those points deserve consideration because it proves that points can get lost in rhetoric. MADD might have started out with good intentions but the organization’s beliefs are archaic at best. The most troubling thing is that more people don’t realize that.

People also need to consider the fact the tragedies still happen during prom and graduation season anyway. One could argue that MADD hasn’t done a good job achieving their goal if tragedies occur anyway. This is one instance where “effort” is not enough.

The legal age to buy cigarettes should also be considered when debating the legal drinking age. In most states in America the age for purchasing cigarettes is 18. In the long run, smoking cigarettes is much more dangerous than moderate drinking. How more people don’t realize that is just bizarre.

There’s also the social aspect of drinking. The reality is that alcohol has the same connotation as a cup of coffee. Alcohol is a social thing. And that’s okay. That’s why parents need to teach responsible drinking, because drinking in a social setting, as long as it is done responsibly, is not a big deal.
The United States needs to look at Europe and Canada, where many of the countries and provinces have a drinking age of 18. That’s not to say that the United States should lower its drinking age to be cool. That’s not the intention.

The real point is that those places don’t have a major issue with alcohol, and if other countries can successfully have a lower drinking age, then America should be able to, as well.

I implore people to consider the drinking age. It is time to lower it from 21 to 18. Having ancient policies is not going to help save anyone’s life. It is common sense. The only question is whether people have the guts to stand up for what’s right. It’s certainly long overdue.

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