Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Voting

I was once an enthusiastic voter.  I thought that I ought to use any tool I could to help promote liberty and that even given the worst view of government as a gang of thieves and warmongers, voting could be seen as a form of defense.  And even if my vote was insignificant, I saw my ballot as a signal to others of support for liberty.

But after a couple of elections, I did not feel so good about casting a ballot (especially after seeing some of the shenanigans of the Libertarian Party in using direct-marketing techniques to "sell" liberty).  In addition, I saw voting as lending moral support to the system.  If I truly believed government to be evil and wanted to withdraw my consent, wouldn't I be a hypocrite to cast a ballot?  In fact, voting might be seen as a way of trying to use force on others.

I don't really see either of these positions as strictly correct now.  I think the importance of voting (or not voting) has been exaggerated by most who debate the question (ironic that I am now spending such a long post on it).  A trouble with voting is that it does not lend itself well to analogy or abstraction.  "Voting is defense" claims a libertarian; "No, voting is aggression" responds an anarchist.  Who is right? 

The analogy I like best for voting is that of a suggestion box for slaves (hat tip to Free Talk Live).  In this view, a vote for someone like Ron Paul is like stuffing "please stop beating us" in the box.  A vote for most politicians is like stuffing "please beat Jim less and Bob a little more".

I won't fault anyone for hoping a vote will reduce government evil.  Who knows, maybe if enough people suggest it, the slave-masters will stop beating us so much.

I also won't fault anyone for seeing the suggestion box as below the dignity of a free man and refuse to participate in it.  Maybe just asserting our freedom will be the best long-term remedy for reducing the slave-masters.

I tend toward non-voting.  I’ve felt it to be a bit demeaning, and I’d rather not get caught up in rooting for politicians.  Still, I leave myself open to voting if inspired by a particular campaign that I think is of some value in supporting.

I am not inspired often. 

1 comment:

  1. A suggestion box for slaves--good analogy.