As November approaches in a year that is divisible by two, politics turns from its background nuisance into an obsession. Television ads dominate the airwaves, pamphlets urging citizens to vote for or against certain measures litter the streets, and the debate between friends and co-workers grows deeper and more volatile.
The question inevitably comes up, “so, who are you voting for?” I often get a lot of curious and even angry looks when I explain that I don’t vote. But, comes the usual response, voting is your voice, your chance to participate in our democracy, to change things for the good, and so on.
But when I take a look around, what has been accomplished by voting? There exists poverty, bailout rip-offs, stupid wars in countries most Americans can hardly pronounce, inflation, and debt.
It’s easy to blame the politicians and bureaucrats for these troubles since they are the ones calling the shots, but the blame lies squarely on us. By voting, we are choosing between the the lesser of two evils, to entrusting our lives and our property to a third party, and at its core, voting implies consent to political rule.
Like inmates in a prison who feel “free” when our wardens give us longer breaks, better meals, or loosened chains, voting gives legitimacy to the State. The State is founded upon naked aggression or the threat of it, but ultimately its authority rests on the consent of the governed.
This is the heart of why I don’t vote: I do not consent to being taxed, regulated, controlled, restricted, lectured, conscripted, and ultimately coerced. As a free and sovereign individual, I feel it is the most patriotic thing one can do.
Just imagine for a second, as the great Frank Chodorov once asked, if no one voted?
Such abstinence would be tantamount to this notice to politicians: since we as individuals have decided to look after our affairs, your services are no longer needed. Having assumed social power we must, as individuals, assume social responsibility – provided, of course, the politicians accept their discharge. The job of running the community would fall on each and all of us. We might hire an expert to tell us about the most improved firefighting apparatus, or a manager to look after cleaning the streets, or an engineer to build us a bridge; but the final decision, particularly in the matter of raising funds to defray costs, would rest with the townhall meeting. The hired specialists would have no authority other than that necessary for the performance of their contractual duties; coercive power, which is the essence of political authority, would be exercised, if necessary, only by the committee of the whole.
By voting, we give consent to a social order that relies on a top-down, monopolistic institution and discourages or eliminates the infinite other ways that order, goods, and services can be provided. As Thomas Paine pointed out, a large majority of the order that exists in society comes from every man’s rational self-interest to improve his existence and the voluntary exchange of goods, labor, and services in the marketplace.
Can you imagine what the reactions in the corporate media and the halls of Congress would be if no one showed up to vote on Election Day? It would send shock waves throughout the entire institutionalized structure of DC’s parasitic empire.
Instead of handing away your life to a snake in a suit who’s sole purpose is to get re-elected, I recommend committing the most revolutionary act you can do and engage in self-improvement. Lead by example and withdraw consent, read voraciously, work hard, and live as freely as you possibly can.
Peaceful sedition, quiet rebellion, and skepticism are the soul of the American contribution to the world. Just ask the great Emma Goldman:
The poor, stupid, free American citizen! Free to starve, free to tramp the highways of this great country, he enjoys universal suffrage, and, by that right, he has forged chains about his limbs. The reward that he receives is stringent labor laws prohibiting the right of boycott, of picketing, in fact, of everything, except the right to be robbed of the fruits of his labor…
All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers, or backgammon, a playing with right and wrong; its obligation never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right thing is doing nothing for it. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.
These sentiments echo the conclusions of many, like Franz Oppenheimer, who argued that there are essentially two ways that human beings can interact with each other: the political means and the economics means.
The economic means include any voluntary, consensual, mutually-beneficial activity, whether it be grocery stores, farmers markets, neighborhood watches, homeowners associations, the internet; spontaneous, horizontal structures of activity that benefit mankind since they are done voluntarily. The political means are the means of all States and private criminals: force, fraud, aggression, or theft.
By voting, we give power and legitimacy to the political, exploitative means of human interaction, that a group of fallible individuals (whether called a King, Monarch, President, or Legislature) has the right or the ability to manage the infinitely complex and unpredictable results of human action.
So this November, I will gladly stand quietly, firmly, with my liberty and my dignity, and withdraw my consent. Can you imagine if a million others did the same?