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PULLING THE LEGITIMACY PLUG
CHOOSING NOT TO VOTE

By: Joe Blow

Over the years I have come to the same conclusions that many others have reached, namely: a) our vaunted two-party system is a fraud, b) there is no difference between the two major parties, c) third parties are effectively precluded by design, and d) voting today does nothing more than lend legitimacy to an illegitimate socialist State.

Our "free" elections can only be described as shams. Incumbents are re-elected 90% of the time, political platforms consist of nothing but new entitlements, and principles (if any) quickly give way to political expediency. Given the choice between Satan the incumbent and Beelzebub the challenger does it really matter for whom you vote?

But that is the wrong question altogether. The proper question is, "Given the choice between Satan and Beelzebub should you vote?" You owe your allegiance only to your principles and your Creator. I haven’t seen His name on many ballots lately, have you?

In the past week alone I stumbled across a half-dozen similar sentiments expressed by others that only reinforced my own conclusions. Most of them were much better than anything I could have cobbled together so I will use excerpts as the basis for this piece. What I discovered is that not only am I not alone on this issue, it is a growing movement in America, albeit apparently still quite small. Hopefully, this piece may in some small way assist its ascendancy among thinking citizens.

The first piece I found was Joseph S. Bommarito’s essay "A Recovering Voter."

It was his essay that really got me going on this issue. Here’s a brief excerpt:

"Addiction is when you do something that you know harms you, but you don’t stop. The harm in voting, what I never saw lurking in the corners, was the moral responsibility. Sure, if my candidate wins, and he does something stupid, like bomb a foreign country to take everyone’s mind off his Oval Office peccadilloes, then part of the moral responsibility lies with me. What I didn’t know is that I’m still responsible when my candidate loses and the other moron does something equally idiotic. Why? Because I took part in the system that put the weasel in. I not only took part, I embraced the system. I became the system."

"On Election Day, I refused to be part of a system with which I disagreed, the American political system as now practiced. A system of excesses, failures, and abuses. A system that has slowly and quietly repealed the American Revolution and ground beneath its heel the standards for which that war was fought. A system that no longer honors individual liberty and personal responsibility and no longer protects private property. A system that in the past 100 years has so thoroughly perverted the meanings of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as to make both of these fundamental charters of freedom unrecognizable to their authors."

Then I found a review of Dissenting Electorate edited by Carl Watner with Wendy McElroy.

"This book is an anthology of articles and excerpts from a variety of sources that deal with the topic of nonvoting. In presenting the minority view that important moral and political reasons abound for not voting, the book unfolds four general arguments: voting is implicitly a coercive act because it lends support to a compulsory state; voting reinforces the legitimacy of the state; and existing nonpolitical, voluntarist alternatives better serve society. Many people do not agree with the concept of nonvoting--but the serious and well thought through underpinnings of such a belief are of crucial importance to an understanding of modern American politics."

Karen De Coster also wrote a brief review of this anthology.

"This book starts off with a great Adin Ballou essay on the superiority of moral power over political power. It sets the stage for why we shall not vote. Then, Lysander Spooner, Frank Chodorov, and others explain why we shall not underwrite evil, give consent to the plunder of our fellow men, or give legitimacy to political power through the electoral process. Wendy McElroy even tells us why voting against Hitler is illegitimate. So forget the "lesser of two evils", and instead strip the State of its legitimacy and don't vote in November!"

Next came Hans Sherrer’s essay "Non-Voting as an Act of Secession" which originally appeared in Dissenting Electorate.

"There are several methods that Americans have used to demonstrate their lack of consent. One way is to renounce allegiance to an existing political order…A second way someone can express a lack of consent is to move to a different country…A third way people express a lack of consent is by not voting. Although political pundits might not call it a withdrawal of consent, the fact is that millions upon millions of Americans show their displeasure with their government by not registering for and/or casting a ballot in political elections. Non-voting represents an exit from political society. It is a silent form of "social power" that speaks volumes. Choosing not to vote may be a form of apathy, but it is simultaneously an expression of "what I perceive is best for me. In other words, millions of non-voters are implicitly stating that voting is a meaningless and unimportant activity, so far as it applies to them and their loved ones in their own lives. After all, government programs, and spending and tax policies will continue regardless of how anyone votes. Furthermore, for those thinking individuals who understand that the government must "get out the vote," the choice not to vote is a form of personal empowerment and a psychologically life-affirming act…Those men and women who consciously choose not to participate in politics expose the lie behind the myth of "government by consent." They have not consented to anything.""

Then I read Brian Drake’s essay "Why I Will Not Vote for Myself."

He is the Libertarian candidate for State Representative of House District 15 in Texas.

"…[V]oting is a terrific way to initiate force and then shirk all responsibility for it.

"Despite popular rhetoric, democracy is not synonymous with freedom. Taking something without permission is theft, but not when the majority goes along with it and calls it taxation. Matters that should be of no interest to any other person (i.e., what a person chooses to do with his or her body) become matters of public policy when the majority says so. The recipe is fairly straightforward. All you have to do is appoint someone else to initiate force on your behalf, get enough people to pick the same candidate, and then hide behind the waving banner of free and open elections. The syllogism goes something like: The initiation of force is wrong, so I cannot initiate force without punishment. Democratic elections are good. If I help to elect someone to public office, then he or she initiates force on my behalf.

"I can no longer go along with it. I cannot participate in a system that promotes force under the guise of majority-rules and a perverted sense of freedom. This is why on November 5, I will not vote in any election, including my own."

Rob Moody’s essay "Why I’ll Never Vote Again" came last.

"You might say, "Voting is consistent with libertarian principles because for me, it’s an act of self-defense." But when you vote, you use a tool of the State to impose your will on everyone else, most of whom are innocent, peaceful people. If an intruder attacked you in your home, would you pull out your own gun and shoot only him, or would you call the police and have them shoot everyone in your neighborhood (including the intruder)? Your vote will not affect the outcome of an election, but your participation in the election will help give legitimacy to the very State from which you seek protection.""

In the past several years I have also come to the conclusion that freedom is where you find it, but it won’t come looking for you. Once you know the truth about voting, you can easily set yourself free simply by choosing not to vote.

"The single step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie. One word of truth outweighs the world." - Alexander Solzhenitsyn

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." - John 8:32 (NIV)


"Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact."


Joe Blow is a pen name for a public high school teacher on the left coast. He is a regular columnist for Ether Zone.

He can be reached at joeblow073@yahoo.com

Published in the September 20, 2002 issue of  Ether Zone.
Copyright 1997 - 2002 Ether Zone.

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