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 havent 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. Bommaritos essay "A
It was his essay that really got me going on this issue.
Heres a brief excerpt:
"Addiction is when you do something that you know harms you, but you dont
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 everyones mind off his Oval Office peccadilloes, then part
of the moral responsibility lies with me. What I didnt know is that Im 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system that has slowly and quietly repealed the American Revolution and ground beneath its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
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 Sherrers 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
A second way someone can express a lack of consent is to move to a
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
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 Drakes 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 Moodys essay "Why Ill Never Vote Again" came last.
"You might say, "Voting is
consistent with libertarian principles because for me, its 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
In the past several years I have also come to the conclusion that freedom is where you
find it, but it wont 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in the September 20, 2002 issue of Ether Zone.
Copyright © 1997 - 2002 Ether
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