Since about two weeks before the election my Facebook news feed has been blowing up with commentary about voting. On the one hand several posts and articles have been going on and on about how voting is this sacred act that so many people have fought and died for; that it is our number one patriotic duty. On the other side are the people so fed up with this ridiculous system that they are abstaining in protest. I am a little frustrated with both of these extreme and almost self-righteous positions and since I know everyone on the internet pretty much bases everything they believe on my blog posts I will go ahead and tell you why.
In the case of the patriotic voters what annoys me is how they think that somehow their vote is going to be the deciding factor in any given election. As if democracy would shut down if they decided to stay home. It wouldn’t. Also, they are literally doing the very least a person can possibly do to participate in our government. Very few of these people have participated in their local party meetings, elected delegates, gone to primaries, tried to become electors, run for office, sign-waved, gone neighborhood walking, made phone calls, or even donated money to a campaign. They literally just push a button, check a box, or touch a screen and somehow they believe that they are the most important cogs in this machine. In their self-righteousness they look down their noses at the “apathetic and anti-American” populous who don’t turn out to make their voices heard. They say things like “You are the reason that the system doesn’t work!” or “If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain!” Don’t have a right to complain? If anything the voters are the ones who shouldn’t complain. After all, aren’t they the ones who believe that the majority should be able to dictate for everyone else? That somehow the majority knows what is best for the individual? Isn’t that why they believe that voting is so important? By participating in the system the way it is we are saying that we will abide by the rules that the majority makes for us. I know I know, we are a Republic and not a Democracy. But Democracy still operates in a Republic. Especially at the local level, which by the way – hardly any of these voters seem to be able to name their local representatives. They just check the R or D and move on. This does not make you a patriot. It does not make you a great American Hero. It just makes you a person who had the time to go to a polling place and wait around for a while and add your drop to the bucket.
(note* I’m not trying to say that these people have no right to complain. I, for one, think everyone has the right to complain.)
At the other end of the spectrum we have the pious non-voter; the person who believes that for whatever reason voting somehow makes them an accessory to evil or implies their consent. I have news for you guys – You are already and accessory to evil and no one gives a crap about your consent. Force does not necessitate consent. That’s why it is called force. You know that car you drive around in to get to the Anarchist book fair? That runs on gas. When you buy gas you pay taxes. When you pay taxes you sponsor evil. You know that computer that you so religiously post Murray Rothbard quotes on? They charge you taxes. Cell phone? Yup. Rent/Mortgage? Yup. Taco Bell? Yup. Literally everything you do is sponsoring some kind of evil. I wish there were some way around it but there is not. Do you really think that not casting a vote makes your hands clean? It doesn’t. All our hands are full of blood and there is nothing that you can do about it accept buy an island (in which case you would have to use money that came from evil and will most likely continue to fund evil) and live completely off the grid. I mean completely. I don’t mean that you hijack someone else’s internet for your Rothbard quotes and cut up your social security card. I mean you have to do everything yourself. Raise your own food. Build your own shelter. All that stuff. You can’t participate in commerce or use any of the things that the government has provided. Not even the roads (I had to say something about roads – after all I am one of those stupid anarchists too). If you are somehow able to manage that I really respect you. From the bottom of my heart I do. But most of us aren’t prepared to do that. Nor should we have to. But you can’t go around acting like you have moral superiority over everyone else because you chose to stay at home and play Anarchy Online. It doesn’t work that way. You are a part of this system whether you like it or not. You can either work to change it or you can resign yourself to the fact that whatever happens you did nothing about it. When your kids grow up they will have the same problems that we have now and maybe worse. If that is ok with you then by all means don’t participate but please don’t act as if you are somehow better than the people who do.
Don’t get me wrong I am not saying that people should or shouldn’t vote one way or the other. It is your personal choice and I support you either way. I vote. I do it hesitatingly and without passion. I research my candidates and I do the best I can. I just wish people weren’t trying to make it a bigger deal than it is. If you choose to vote just let it be what it is: the easiest thing you can do to say you participated. No one will judge you (Ok, someone will probably judge you but it’s probably more about that fanny pack and bald eagle t-shirt you are wearing than your decision to do the bare minimum). And for those of you who don’t believe in voting: just don’t vote. Don’t act like you’re some great martyr because you abstained from participating in the least meaningful gesture in the political process. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some Anarchy Online to play.