Malia Obama recently made headlines for being pictured while drinking underage and liberal blue check marks were irate. Not with Malia, but with legions of fantastical conservatives who supposedly attacked her for breaking the law. Except, literally no one cared. So much so, that the only truly noticeable rebuff from conservatives was more about what she was drinking, or toward the tabloid creepily photographing young girls in swimsuits without their consent.
What should have garnished attention, however, should be why no one cared she was drinking underage, which is because in this she reflects pretty much all young Americans. If anything, Malia should actually be commended for how she went about drinking. She was drinking in a social setting (not alone), at a place of temporary residence (not driving), and not to apparent excess.
Despite the modern portrayal of every college student as a reincarnate Jim Belushi, she was drinking how most young Americans drink—responsibly. Here Malia Obama exemplifies a need for reform: It’s time for America to lower the drinking age.
Contextually, Americans should understand that the idea of a 21 year-old drinking age is only 35 years old. The 1970s saw most states adopt drinking ages typically 18-20. But, in 1984, an upward trend of DUI related deaths prompted a strong lobby from the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and so Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) authored the National Minimum Drinking Age Act (NMDAA) which was sequentially signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. The act didn’t federally force states to make the minimum drinking age 21, but to not do so would forfeit 10% of all federal highway funding. Naturally, the states capitulated at the expense of their youth and so the legal age requirement has unanimously been raised.
If the intended goal of the act was truly to lower DUI-related deaths and raise awareness to the issue as it so advertised, that goal has long been achieved.
While the act made deaths fall precipitously at first, it should come as no surprise then to find that the inaugural year of a steep decline in under 21 DUI-related deaths began in 2007— the same year Facebook become open for public use. It could be argued that with the rise of faster information technologies comes a correlative drop in underage drunk driving-related deaths. A decade later, underage drunk driving deaths comprised 10% of the total number compared to 25% in 1982.
MADD has certainly fulfilled their original goal of bringing both an awareness and a stigma to drunk driving, underage or not, both of which will remain as the advancement of information technologies develops more exponentially in the modern information age.
There is great argumentation among the heavily-credentialed on the topic. They delve into the biological, economic, legal and philosophical reasons for why the drinking age should be lowered or left untampered. Yet, from an expressly social outlook, the drinking age needs to be lowered for the simple sake of a ubiquitous societal standard. To not, subverts both our regard to legal enforcement and those who uphold it, and Malia has the opportunity to become arbiter of the matter from this experience.
With great irony, just a week after Malia’s pool day, America watched Hollywood host the Academy Awards, the single-largest event demonstrating the vast societal separation between average Americans and the elite. The underlying symbol of this case is no different, which is why the standard must be the same. If Malia Obama can inconsequentially drink alcohol at 20, why can’t the college sophomore celebrating the end of midterms? The trade apprentice after a hard day? The junior enlisted service member coming home from deployment?
If American society is to claim a constant pursuit for equality, a nation that grants its adult citizens the rights to serve, smoke, and vote at 18 but not drink is an insincere and hypocritical embodiment of that principle, especially while granting social clemency to those with a celebrity status.
Alcohol is generally something that brings people together. This non-issue and its resolve should be as well. Black or white, left and right, gay or straight— (almost) everyone drinks. Few arguments truly hold water against lowering the drinking age, and the overwhelming Felicific calculus for doing so sinks even those.
Malia’s drinking exposure is incidental of commonality for all young Americans, who, upon the reform of NMDAA, will unanimously and unironically exclaim, “Thanks Obama!”
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.