I accidentally started a Facebeef earlier today by sharing something that I thought made a few good points about some of the reasons to not vote tomorrow (or really ever). I know this isn’t a popular view, especially the day before an election and since I have friends and colleagues that are running for various local offices, but it is one I believe strongly in so I thought I would try to explain some of the reasons why in a post, on a platform that will let me explain myself a little more fully and respond to any comments in an equally complete form.
I was first a conscientious objector of the election / voting process last year, but I wasn’t as clear on my reasoning so I didn’t document it here. This year, as I’ve continued my exploration of core principles and how to best live them by example, I understand a lot more about why I am refusing to vote. I document those reasons here not to convince you that you should do anything differently, but simply to explain myself.
In no particular order:
- I refuse to vote because I refuse to use force, even by proxy, to make someone live the way I think they should live. Voting is about the majority forcing its will on the minority and in the case of state based voting, those that are elected have the ability to use force to make people comply with what they decide is law. If the ability to use violence to enforce the “law” were taken away, I might reconsider. Of course, who then would follow the law?
- I refuse to vote because I refuse to give my consent to the system. Each voter implicitly gives the system and everything it produces their consent, regardless of who wins and what they do once in office. This is where the whole “if you don’t vote you have no right to complain” fallacy comes from. The fact is that the only peaceful mechanism I have to remove my consent from the system as a whole is to not participate (which I have to give credit to the guys that designed the whole thing is a pretty good system design to make sure that things never change)
- I refuse to vote because the whole concept is illogical. How can we together decide to bestow rights and privileges on other people that each one of us doesn’t hold ourselves? I think most people would agree that they can’t tell their neighbor to do directly (much less be able to make them do it by force). Why do they think that if they get together with their neighbor they can give someone across town the power to do that same thing?
- I refuse to vote because its ineffective. In my view, this is the weakest / most statist, but also the most pragmatic / utilitarian argument. In all honesty I don’t know a single person who has ever said that they made their life better by voting. I know you can’t always get what you want, but I know very few who seem to ever get anything that they want. The infamous definition of insanity comes to mind (which is met with choruses of “but….we have to try!”).
- I refuse to vote because I don’t want to abdicate my responsibility. The attitude (which is encouraged, BTW) seems to be that if you cast your vote, whatever happens after that is out of your control, i.e. it is someone else’s decision. You get one “big decision” to make once a year (blue pants or tan pants) and the rest of the year “your leaders” get to decide all the important things for you. I choose to make my own decisions and live with the consequences. It’s too much to ask we all live that way, but what if you, the person that is reading this, not only had that as part of your personal narrative, but actually started to live with that in mind? Be the change you want to see.
- I refuse to vote because I don’t get a real choice. Corporate and other special interests decide what choices we get to make long before names are even on a ballot in November. When “none of the above” is a valid choice on a ballot and if it wins no one occupies the office I may reconsider my position.
- I refuse to vote because voting steals time (time to decide who to vote for, time to vote, time to follow election results, time to follow what those that I elected actually do) away from me that I could be doing more productive things from learning a new skill to spending time with those that matter most to me.
- Lastly, I refuse to vote because what matters to me most is liberty. To borrow an idea from my favorite comedian (and social commentator), voting for liberty like fucking for virginity.
As I read back through the list, it feels like I am missing a reason or two that has occurred to me in the last year, but its not coming to me, so I will leave it as is. Again, I know this isn’t a popular view and if you’ve made it this far you probably either have all sorts of things you want to sit me down and explain to me or never want to talk to me again. I understand both reactions. All I ask is if you are in the former group that you come with reason and evidence – I don’t have time for appeals to emotion and won’t tolerate ad hominems. And if you are in the later group I wish you well and welcome you back if you ever change your mind and want to talk it out.