The op-ed that started it all…

If you’re new to the Choose Responsibility blog, you may not have read former CR president John McCardell’s New York Times op-ed that led to the founding of Choose Responsibility. The entire article can be found here, but an excerpt on MLDA 21 is included below. If you’re new to the blog, please let us know your thoughts in the “comments” section.

To lawmakers: the 21-year-old drinking age is bad social policy and terrible law. It is astonishing that college students have thus far acquiesced in so egregious an abridgment of the age of majority. Unfortunately, this acquiescence has taken the form of binge drinking. Campuses have become, depending on the enthusiasm of local law enforcement, either arms of the law or havens from the law.

Neither state is desirable. State legislators, many of whom will admit the law is bad, are held hostage by the denial of federal highway funds if they reduce the drinking age. Our latter-day prohibitionists have driven drinking behind closed doors and underground. This is the hard lesson of prohibition that each generation must relearn. No college president will say that drinking has become less of a problem in the years since the age was raised. Would we expect a student who has been denied access to oil paint to graduate with an ability to paint a portrait in oil? Colleges should be given the chance to educate students, who in all other respects are adults, in the appropriate use of alcohol, within campus boundaries and out in the open.

And please – hold your fire about drunken driving. I am a charter member of Presidents Against Drunk Driving. This has nothing to do with drunken driving. If it did, we’d raise the driving age to 21. That would surely solve the problem.

One Response to “The op-ed that started it all…”

  1. Edwin Bonilla Says:

    First, raising the driving age to 21 is oppression and will not solve problems. I give credit to John McCardell for being courageous in his work to lower the drinking age in the Choose Responsibility approach. I also give credit to the Barrett Seaman. Young women and young men who are 18-20 can learn about alcohol education and they can use that knowledge if they drink alcohol. Anyone who says that people who are 18-20 are unable to learn about alcohol responsibility has lied and anyone who says that people who are 18-20 are unable to drink responsibly after completing an alcohol education class has also lied. They are lies and should be treated as such. Debate will be important in getting the drinking age lowered to 18 in all states. I will never listen to MADD or to other organizations against lowering the drinking age who say that I should stop debating the drinking age. Choose Responsibility should take this same approach.