Why I Don’t Vote
by David Jones
I have not voted in a national election since 1996 and will never vote again. It’s not that I don’t care or that I’m lazy. It’s just that I’ve come to the conclusion that voting doesn’t matter. More importantly, voting is antithetical to the values I hold dear. Voting is often held to be “a sacred duty” or “a right” or even a “moral responsibility”. Those in power love to promote elections and voters rights because they know that voting gives legitimacy to what they do once elected. Why else would billions of dollars be devoted to election politics? Politicians desperately plea with citizens to “get out and vote” because they know that elections provide cover for them. “Make your voice heard” is a constant refrain as if going to the polling booth once every two or four years and secretly casting a ballot will miraculously change the course of human history.
In the end the biggest reason I don’t vote, the only one that truly matters is that inevitably my vote is an act of aggression against others. The Declaration of Independence, one of the foundational documents that governs this country states correctly that “…all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. The key to that phrase is that our rights are unalienable which means non-transferable. I can vote to give away my freedoms but I cannot vote to take away yours. If our rights are unalienable (non transferable) then they cannot be usurped by a voter or group of voters and yet that is the crux of all voting. All voting is about taking something from someone and giving it to another or appointing someone lord and master over others against their will.
Voting is an act of violence because each voter assumes the right to appoint political and legal guardians over other human beings. No individual voter or even a majority of voters has such a right morally. If they claim to possess such a right, please have them clearly explain where that right comes from and how it squares with the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence “that all men are created equal” and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable “Rights” of “Life, Liberty,” and Property. When someone slips into a voting booth and pulls the lever they are no different than the highwayman who pulls a pistol out of his pocket and robs you in broad daylight.
Some people say that voting is a key to democracy and necessary to preserve our rights. This is hogwash. History has shown repeatedly that voting does not preserve rights and in fact is used as a tool to take them away. There are countless examples of so called democracy, even representative democracy such as that practiced in America, electing tyrants. It should be noted that Hitler rose to office in a thoroughly democratic process. Moreover, if voting is required to preserve our rights then they aren’t unalienable are they? Our rights become conditional, something bestowed by the state. This is a very dangerous proposition, to allow the state the ability to assign rights because what it can give it can surely take away. And it routinely does.
Voting is an act of consent. I do not choose to offer my consent. When you vote you agree to abide by the rules of the game and accept the outcome. By voting, the voter endorses the governmental system under which he or she lives and those in control of it. Each voter is saying: It is right and proper for some people, acting in the name of the State, to pass laws and to use violence to compel obedience to those laws if they are not obeyed regardless of the morality of those laws.
I’ve often heard people say – “Well, if you don’t vote you don’t have the right to complain.” Let me see if I understand the argument: If I don’t vote I forfeit my right to free speech. Free speech is not an unalienable right but contingent on me voting. This of course must mean that other rights are conditional and based on whether I vote or not. The logical extension of this argument would suggest that the other protections afforded me in the Bill of Rights are only valid if I vote. If I don’t vote I can’t own a gun. If I don’t vote I am subject to unreasonable search and seizure. If I don’t vote I cannot expect to be secure in my “persons, houses, papers, and effects.” If I don’t vote I cannot decline to testify against myself and due process is not available to me. That’s what these people are saying. It’s a terrifying prospect to suggest that voting is the fulcrum on which all human liberty is balanced.
Voters are never held accountable for their vote. They vote anonymously to elect leaders that reflect their values with no regard for the rights of their fellow citizens. When you think about it, voting is a cowardly act. It allows people to do by way of proxies to others what they cannot or will not do themselves such as stealing or killing or otherwise agressing. Furthermore, those elected are never held accountable for the debt they accrue on behalf of those they represent and the resulting economic harm. The worst thing that happens is the they are voted out of office with a full lifetime pension when they should in fact be in jail for armed robbery.
Some people would say, “Vote for the person or issue that best reflects your values.” In other words, vote for the lesser of evils. There are a lot of problems with the argument. If we vote for a bad candidate, we are partly responsible for the harm done by that candidate. This is true even if our sole intent was to defeat a worse candidate. One evil does not justify another. It would have been better not to vote at all. Supporting the lesser of two evils tells politicians that it is acceptable for them to do likewise. The “vote for lesser of evils” strategy always results in a downward trend in the quality of candidates. Politicians won’t change if they know we’ll vote for them anyway. Good candidates seldom receive the support they need to become viable. The problem of bad choices is thereby perpetuated, and the nation continues to deteriorate until the day when our choices will be an Adolf Hitler and a Joseph Stalin. The lesser of two evils is still an evil.
“When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental – men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost… All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” – Henry L. Mencken
In the end and after considerable thought I’ve decided to never vote again regardless of candidates or issues on the ballot. People will ask questions like – “how will we decide who leads us?” or “isn’t the democratic process a key to a civilized society?” Okay, in the interest of full disclosure I’m a voluntaryist or anarchist if you like. I am not a fan of government. The greatest con in recent human history is the “social contract” put forth by the likes of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. This theory posits that individuals either explicitly or implicitly surrender some of their freedoms to rulers in exchange for security. Here’s the problem – there really is no contract and there is no practical way of withdrawing consent. What social contract theory did was replace the “divine right of kings” with the “divine right of gangs”. The majority has absolute control over the minority using a faux legal entity called government. “Government is not reason. It is not eloquence,” George Washington reportedly said. “Government is force; like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”
The question of who will govern me is moot because I don’t care to be governed, at least by the present rules. More than anything, I don’t want any votes I cast to be used to exact violence against others. I don’t want to be responsible for the debt that politicians accrue which must be paid by future generations including my children and grandchildren. And I don’t want to enable politicians to wage endless wars which inevitably murder innocent non-combatants. As far as deciding who will lead us, that’s none of my business. If someone chooses to give up their sovereignty and be lead then fine. Just don’t ask me to participate in the charade.
“Although I admit that the outcome in a stateless society will be bad, because not only are people not angels, but many of them are irredeemably vicious in the extreme, I conjecture that the outcome in a society under a state will be worse, indeed much worse, because, first, the most vicious people in society will tend to gain control of the state and, second, by virtue of this control over the state’s powerful engines of death and destruction, they will wreak vastly more harm than they ever could have caused outside the state. It is unfortunate that some individuals commit crimes, but it is stunningly worse when such criminally inclined individuals wield state powers… Only states can pose truly massive threats, and sooner or later the horrors with which they menace mankind invariably come to pass…” – Robert Higgs
Consider this opinion from Becky Akers posted on LewRockwell.com:
“Why I Don’t Vote
Today’s a big day for the State, one of its holiest: Election Day. So let me ask whether you celebrated: did you vote?
Politicians, bureaucrats, and the corporate media all insist that voting is one of our fundamental “civil rights.” It’s our “civic duty” to participate in this collective ritual. And folks who love the State have long pushed to expand the franchise. For example, after Lincoln’s War of Northern Aggression, politicians gave ex-slaves the right to vote. Then, in the 1920’s, it was women, and more recently, 18-year-olds. Some quarters are now urging that we give the vote to immigrants who haven’t yet secured a bureaucrat’s permission to live here; others want to amend the Constitution to include a right to vote, incredibly enough.
But is all that voting good for liberty? Are “civil rights” in general compatible with freedom?
I say they aren’t.
Let me be clear: I’m speaking of the political philosophy of civil rights. And it is an actual philosophy, not just a slogan hippies and Marxists spouted during the 1960s. As such, “civil rights” is diametrically opposed to liberty.
“Civil rights” teaches what its name implies: that our rights descend from the State. (“Civil” comes from the Latin civis, meaning “citizen” and therefore under the government’s control.)”