Drinking Age

A Republican Congress Should Make Obama Lower the Drinking Age

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Drink
White House

Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds has suggested six bills a Republican-controlled Congress should send to President Obama's desk. He's likely to veto many of them, but one bill that would stand a strong chance of survival would be a repeal of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act.

It's not an issue that generates a lot of attention, and neither Obama nor Republican Congressional leaders have talked about it. That's a mistake. The current policy is an unqualified failure that has contributed to reckless, binge-drinking culture on college campuses, Reynolds writes:

The limit was dreamed up in the 1980s as a bit of political posturing by then-secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole. It has been a disaster. College drinking hasn't been reduced; it has just moved out of bars and into dorm rooms, fraternities/sororities and house parties. The result has been a boom in alcohol problems on campus.

I include the sexual assault crisis on college campuses among those problems and have argued that lowering the drinking age is one way—perhaps the best way—to actually reduce rape. Instead of forcing colleges to expel incapacitated students for failing to properly interrogate each other during each and every moment of sexual interaction, lets abolish the policy that puts students in danger in the first place.

Certain legislating moralizers will likely complain that repealing the drinking age is akin to giving teens permission to drink. To them I would point out the obvious: Teens are already drinking (in unimaginable excess), and because the police can arrest them for it, they do their drinking as far away from public scrutiny as possible—in the very places where they are most likely to be in danger (i.e. stranger's basements). Other students who are willing and able to break the law and avoid the cops become the gatekeepers to teen drinking, rather than the local bartender. Which sounds preferable?

See the Instapundit's full list of suggestions here.