Earlier today, I covered the ongoing BTP convention. Checking into some of the National Committee candidates with whom I am unfamiliar, I ran across an admission on the BTP site that Matty Grossman, candidate for Vice Chair, just turned 16 years old within the last few days (if he’s even 16 yet). Looking closer I discovered that Andrew Martin, candidate for At-Large Representative, has admitted that he is only 13 years old. There may be others who are also that young, as I don’t know most of the candidates.
Normally I would never name anyone under the age of 18. In this case, however, I feel I have no choice because these boys are on an election ballot for a national political party, and those voting have a right to know they are that young.
I cannot support anyone that age seeking a National Committee position, because they simply don’t have enough life experience to make the types of decisions necessary at that level of responsibility. Even if, for the sake of argument, they are the most mature young teenagers on earth, they are not old enough to legally enter into any kind of contract. They also are completely dependent upon their parents’ authority; and their parents may not even know, or approve, of their candidacy since this is all being done online.
This could cause some very serious problems for the BTP. Who knows how their parents may react, if they are opposed to the idea but didn’t know about it until it was too late? Who knows what someone that young may be interested in next month, much less next year or two years from now? The truth is, at their ages even they don’t know. There’s nothing wrong with that, because it’s normal for young teenagers. However, it is problematic if they are running for an elected office in a national political party, with a two-year term.
It also raises another extremely serious concern. Very recently, a woman contacted Todd Andrew Barnett, in his capacity as BTP Vice Chair – the same position now sought by Matty – regarding alleged childhood sexual abuse which she thought needed to be brought to the party’s attention. I really don’t think a 16-year-old, much less a 13-year-old, should be exposed to details of such an obviously adult subject. Furthermore, to discuss it with someone that young may even be viewed by authorities as abuse, thus opening up a whole other can of worms. In some states, having a sexual conversation of any type with a child online is a felony, and it doesn’t matter whether you knew they were a child.
I also do not believe that lady (or any other responsible adult) would ever intentionally share adult conversation of any type with someone that young. However, had Matty or Andrew already been elected to BTP NatComm, there would be no reason for anyone to even suspect they were talking to a child. It simply would never occur to anyone that National Committee members of any political party are young teenagers. It makes absolutely no sense that someone that young would ever hold such an office, or even be permitted to become a candidate. It makes absolutely no sense that adults would place these boys in a position where they are likely to be exposed to harassment and abusive behavior from disgruntled and angry adults, as we all know happens regularly in third parties, and especially online.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against these boys. I don’t even know them, though I wish them only the best as with all young people, and strongly encourage them to follow their dreams. However, at this point in their lives, they cannot possibly be mature enough or experienced enough to hold that kind of position. It is not in their best interests, and it is not in the party’s best interests. And frankly, it worries me for their sake that they are being allowed to get themselves into a situation which is definitely not for children.
This brings me to my final point. Unless someone has actually met these boys, how do you know it’s not someone just messing with the BTP, trying to make the party look ridiculous just because they can? It wouldn’t be the first time that happened, after all. During the BTP Presidential nominating convention, the site was invaded by a group of teenagers intent upon skewering the election results. While the damage was undone by quick recognition and intervention, there is absolutely nothing to stop someone from perpetrating a hoax intended to harm the party, if they simply take the time to become accepted on the site.