Nobody 08: Justified; or, The Merits of Not Voting
By: Barry Belmont

In view of the realities of the system, is a nonvoter really “only accepting” the outcome of an election? Hardly. Since he has, in effect, voted in favor of not being ruled, what he has accepted is being left alone. Nonetheless people some how maintain that if I don’t vote, I have no right to complain. They say I’m apathetic. But that is like telling a man he is apathetic if he refuses to choose between having either his TV or his watch stolen. It is absurd to conclude that because such a man refuses to “vote” on which crime should be committed against him, he “deserves/accepts it” when one of the two items is stolen. If the ballot does not provide us with a choice to our liking, how else can we exercise our so-called freedom of choice except by not voting?

We have a natural right to say no to anything. When we decline our vote, we are saying no to *all* candidates. When someone chastises us for not voting, isn’t he really saying that we have no *right* to exercise a “no” vote.

The truth is that the person who refuses to vote (for moral and/or intellectual reasons) shows far more love for his country, and far more courage, than the lesser-of-two-evils robot. Instead of simply falling into line, such a dissenter is, in effect, saying, “I refuse to go along with the illogical rhetoric; I refuse to be intimidated by patriotic slogans; I refuse to be coerced by threats of ‘only accepting’ should I not exercise my ‘right’ to vote; I refuse to be deceived into believing that I have a free choice.”

Recently a pundit (I know of no other name for him said “who will be the first to cast their voice of reason upon the mob while you choose not to?” He was right to assume that no no no it won’t be me. What is fundamentally wrong with your hypothetical mob isn’t the mob itself, rather it is institutional framework that allows this mob to grasp a monopoly of power. Keep in mind, your system has elected Bush. Mine didn’t.

And it seems that no matter what I do, I am some how wrong. Say I vote for somebody with views in direct opposition to those espoused by the person you are voting for. And let’s say I lose. Is this fair? You may reason that in partaking in the process that I’ve consented to the decision. I’ve agreed to the game and the rules there of. Ok. Fair enough. But what if I don’t join up? Well then, it is reasoned that I’m not doing anything about my situation and I thus have no right to complain. But since the hypothesis “nonvoting isn’t plausible,” the view held by most people on campus, is unfalsifiable (that is to say, heads I lose, tails you win), it is clearly impossible to hold sensibly. If an idea can’t be false, it can’t be true. This applies to voting. If my voting doesn’t accomplish what I wish it to and my non-voting is not even considered an act, then what logical recourse do I have?

F.A. Hayek popularized the notion of “unintended consequences,” observing that conscious acts often produce unforeseen results. This explains why good men (which I believe you, McCain, and Obama all are) who act through bad institutions will produce bad results. Good men acting through the state will strengthen its legitimacy and its institutional framework. They will weaken social power. Ultimately, whether or not they repeal any particular law or fulfill any particular promises is irrelevant to producing freedom as their intentions.

With all respect to differences among types of government, there is not, in strict theory, any difference between the powers available to the democratic and to the totalitarian state. Participation is an instrument of conquest because it encourages people to give their consent to being governed. Deeply imbedded in people’s sense of fair play is the principle that those who play the game must accept the outcome. (Except in a coin-toss guessing contest, what other situation would we consent to say that roughly half of everybody involved will be wrong and jubject to the whim of both fate and the other half?)

Why do politicians plead with everyone to get our and vote? Because voting is the simplest and easiest form of participation by masses of people. Even though it is minimal participation, it is sufficient to commit all voters to being governed, regardless of who wins. Democracy is essentially coercive: The winners get to use public authority to impose their politics on the losers.

Maybe Nobody isn’t justified, but neither is the political process through which I must act. So no. I will not be a part of it. I will not accept the “it takes just one person” delusion. If that were the case, then certainly my one person (filled with State-hate as it is) would have brought this house of cards down. But it hasn’t and it won’t. Not because I’m wrong, but because I must trust my fellow man. I’m up against millions and I can’t take them all. But I can take them on.

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  • http://unrforliberty.com/2008/12/student-senate-criticized.html Student Senate Criticized | UNR Students for Liberty

    [...] just don’t vote at all…we’re cool with that too. UNR Students for Liberty – [...]

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