Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 489, October 19, 2008

"When one endorses the lesser of two
evils, they still have endorsed evil."

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Do Not Vote
by Adam Edwards
truth -+at+-

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

The phrase "I don't vote" has become one of the new unspeakable taboos in our country. Even the worst among us would not suggest people pass up the opportunity to have their voice heard. Endless numbers of nameless heroes died just to bring you the right to vote. No matter what irrational ways are used to pick a candidate, the more important thing is apparently to vote. I don't vote and I will tell you why.

I entirely reject the idea that by gathering a plurality or even a majority of votes gives anyone rightful dominion over the choices I can make as long as I do not infringe on the same rights of others. It is as simple as that. If I voted, I would betray the principles by which I live my life by attempting to visit the same coercion that I deplore on others in the form of my favored candidate.

The practical argument that I hear most is that I should participate in this farce because "as long as we have an unjust government, you might as well endorse the lesser of two evils." Since we are being practical at the moment, the chance that my vote will tip an election in either direction is less than the chance that I will be involved in an auto accident on the way to the polls. From my point of view, even if a reader gets angry about this post, I have already made more impact than a single vote is worth.

Furthermore, when one endorses the lesser of two evils, they still have endorsed evil. I cannot endorse evil. Voting assumes that it is reasonable to subjugate the rest of the population to whatever candidate one feels is most worthy. That is to visit the same coercion on others that I deplore when visited against me. A good question may be whether there were any two candidates bad enough that one could not vote for either. I can think of two historical world figures, could you?

I am often asked "What if candidate so-and-so ran for president? His ideas are "closer" to yours. Would you vote then?" No I would not. By definition, anyone that craves that power, cannot get my vote. I have no greater right to try to force my ideas on others than anyone else. The fact that some people (less than half) engage in that behavior and even more (by far, most people) agree that it is acceptable or even desirable to do so does nothing to change the nature of right and wrong. I reject the false choice presented to me of two (or more) candidates, each craving the power to rule others. In fact, I reject the idea that it is necessary to appoint an authority figure to make any personal decision on my behalf.

To illustrate my point, imagine that you and your two best friends are sitting at a table. The two of them turn to you and say that they will now take a poll of the three of you and whichever of those two obtains the majority of votes will administer the personal finances of the other two for a non-negotiable fee of that winner's choosing. Your first reaction is, of course, that you will not participate. "But," they implore you, "don't you want to make your voice heard?" At that point, to become part of this arbitrary scheme is still probably laughable.

The reader might say this is completely different -- they are not "official!" What if your two best friends drew up a fancy document outlining the scheme? What if they had a lawyer read it over? What if they both signed it? Would that change your mind? Probably not. You would likely still feel that your personal finances are your business and that nobody understands your needs and wants better than you.

The reader might say a group of three people is not enough. Suppose your two friends convinced everyone in your workplace and everyone in your neighborhood to participate -- what number of people is required for the scheme to become legitimate? What is it that the last person brought to the situation that changed its character so drastically?

The reader might say that without oversight, you would make the wrong choice about your personal finances and you should be afraid to "go it alone." What if he agreed to have an accountant of his choosing look over the choices made on your behalf? You would likely tell him your personal finances are none of his business. After all, if you wanted his advice, you would ask for it. You can find your own experts if you feel that is necessary. You might have a hard time understanding when he gained the right to force his decision upon you.

At this point, you may have rejected this scenario -- that any group has the right to force personal decisions upon you, charging you a hefty fee that you cannot decline, even if the stated reason is that it is "for your own good." If so, I say "Welcome to Reason."

First published on Mr. Edwards' blog


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