Available Now!

Available Now!
What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Sunday, November 05, 2006

No Vote, But a Party Nonetheless

I won't be voting Tuesday. I'm not sure if voting is immoral exactly, but it does make me feel dirty. It's one thing to pick someone to represent me, but it's an entirely different thing for me to pick someone to represent you. So I won't be so presumptuous as to do that.

Neverthelelss, I am rooting for a virtual clean sweep of the Republicans (the exception being Ron Paul). Politicians understand only one thing: defeat at the polls. The War Party needs some severe disciplining, so you know what that means.

I suffer no delusions about the Democrats. They have failed to act like an opposition party on the war and related civil-liberty assaults, and their domestic program is horrendous (though not much different from Geroge II's). But I like gridlock when it's the best alternative available. The best government is no government. The second best is divided government.

So go Dems! I'll be ready to celebrate Tuesday night.


Larry Ruane said...

Excellent points, but what do you think about voting on referenda such as tax increases, rather than voting for individuals? I am not voting at all, even for those, but I'm just wondering what you think.

You might like the letter to the editor I had published in the Denver Post yesterday:

Every election season, we hear that if you don't vote, you have no right to complain. There may be reasons to vote, but this is not one of them. Here's an analogy. Suppose we agree to play poker, and you win $100 from me. Do I have a right to complain? Of course not. By agreeing to play, I am declaring myself "in the game," so I have to accept the outcome (assuming you didn't cheat). This is like voting; I am trying to win, realizing that I might lose. After all, I might have won $100 from you, instead of the other way around.

But suppose you invite me to play poker with you, but when I refuse, you me relieve me of $100 anyway. Then of course I have the right to complain! In fact, I can get you arrested, and force you to return my property!

The usual saying has it exactly backwards: If you do vote, you have no right to complain.

Sheldon Richman said...

Great letter, Larry!

I can see a difference in voting in referenda, since you are not picking a representative for someone else. On the other hand, adding to the turnout (however slightly), you are lending legitimacy to the very process. This may not be a killer argument, but it is a consideration to be weighed against the others. In the end, in most elections, your chance of determiing the outcome is less than your chance of being killed in a car accident on the way to the polls.

I do acknowledge that living in a state-saturated society, many choices are not ethically clear-cut.

John Markley said...

Excellent letter. I've always despised the "if you don't vote you can't complain" line of argument. It's quite a cozy set-up for statists; the antistatist is obliged to either submit and give his symbolic support to the state, or submit and keep his mouth shut. For the statists, it's win-win.