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What About being 21?

1984 Michael Jackson is a celebrity, a pop icon and a legend. Somehow he's connected in a weird way to the reason that you have to be 21 in every state to buy alcohol. Conditions determined their own minimum legal drinking ages in 1976. Some states required drinking to be 18, 19, 20-21. Now back to the present timeline. All the conditions in the U.S. This story takes you to a political crossroads, and the supreme court, and in a weird way to Michael Jackson shaking hands next to the president. However, the drinking age change is ultimately a story about roads. Prohibition, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, banned alcohol in 1920. The 21st Amendment repealed it. After that, a lot of states settled on the drinking age of 21 and older. In the 70s, the 26th Amendment changed the dynamic again. "The amendment, as you know, provides the right to vote for all young people between 18, 21 and 11 million new voters as a result of this amendment." 18-year-olds could be drafted to Vietnam and vote, so a lot of states decided that they could drink. That map was short-lived for a reason. Reagan stated, "Nearly 50,000 people were killed on the highway that year. Drunk drivers were involved in 25,000 of those fatalities, in addition to 750,000 injuries a year. Drinking age reform advocates quickly attributed drunk driving fatalities in the blue states, or 18 and older states, to earlier drinking ages.

People argued that teens were driving across state lines to drink or purchase alcohol increased drunk driving. There was an awareness campaign that helped set up the catalyst. Michael Jackson was honoured to let his music be used in anti-drunk driving PSAS. However, the Tactics were not limited to P.R. President Raegan is famous for saying: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help." that made his strategy surprising.

Even though drunk driving is a problem nationwide, it can only be solved at the state and local levels. Yet the Federal Government has a role to play. Two main groups influenced his thinking. "Much of the credit for focusing public attention goes to the grassroots campaign of organizations like MADD, Mothers against Drunk Driver and RID, Remove Intoxicated Drivers. Candance "Candy" Kirchner founded MADD in 1980 after a drunk driver killed her daughter Cari. MADD's goals at the time included making it easier to obtain DUI convictions… and raising the drinking age. This direction was clear at River Dell high school in Oradell, New Jersey, where president Raegen explained his unpredictable political evolution. He addressed the problem, the theory, dilemma, and Solution. This is where the roads come in. The Interstate Highway Act of 1956 created a network of roads, mainly by federal dollars. Those roads became crucial to state economies. That money also became a way to bend the states to national priorities, even if Raegan had to change his specific political positions. He decided to support legislation to withhold 5% of a state's highway funds if it does not enact the 21-year old drinking age. Then the law passed, it wasn't technically a national drinking age law, but in effect it was. States quickly adopted the 21-year-old drinking age. Most couldn't afford to lose federal funding for their highways. Louisiana was the only state that held out at age 18 due to a loop which closed in the mid-90s

South Dakota challenged the law to preserve the sale of low alcohol beer for 19-year-olds and up, and it reached the supreme court. The court rules 7-2. They state that it was within congress's powers to control spending that promoted "general welfare," argued as reducing youth drinking and driving via the 21-year-old drinking age. Did it work? Most studies declare "case closed" that the higher drinking age saves lives and reduces alcohol consumption. Like people from the libertarian CATO Institute, Skeptics claim a broader cultural change, not a law, should be credited with saving lives. Raegan himself argued both sides saying that "the new minimum drinking age is but that he then stated that there's so much more to do and it's not the government that cant does it. Politically, Ronald Raegan using federal purse strings to strong-arm states, is. A strange pairing, but beyond the politics, there's a more important message. The federal government has used other levers to push states, but there was one great tool to change the drinking age. The thing that changed the country wasn't just lines on state edges. It was the ones that run through it.


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