Archive for 10/30/2002
Today’s blog comes from my post on the ASC forum
Voting by definition is a process that involves forcing your will on others. Some actions of government (or its agents) are clearly coercive in that they limit your liberty directly, while others don’t involve initiating force, but rather define just what the initiation of force involves. Either way, voting is a process of forcefully restricting the actions of other people. If it weren’t forceful, they we could just ask, pay, or convince them to do whatever without going through the hassle of elections.
Statists think voting is a legitimate way to coerce anyone into doing anything, or in other words, that there is no higher, independent moral authority other than the “voice of the people.” Classical liberals (and their variants) on the other hand think that man has rights which are due to his nature as man (either because God said so, or that’s just how man is.)
Voting is not of course “the most important right” as some statists claim. Elections are only one of many safeguards used to protect the real rights, which are life, liberty, and property. Unfortunately, without constitutional safeguards on liberty, “voting” is just another word for “mob rule.” (Incidentally, so is anarcho-capitalism, where votes are replaced by ballots made of guns and money.) Now, many people who (correctly) think that the government of the US initiates force on a regular basis choose not to vote because they do not want to implicitly legitimize the system even when they vote for less force.
Such non-voters are mistaken. Whether you believe that voting is not a sufficient means of protecting liberty (as a classical liberal) or voting is a completely illegitimate means (as an anarcho-capitalist, for example) the fact remains that voting is the best means you have of changing the actions of government. It is also arguably the only nonviolent means you have of limiting the actions of government (at least until your private army is big enough so that the US military gives up without a fight.) Whether you like it or not, unless our whole society decides unanimously to change to another social order, voting will remain the most effective non-violent means to limit the growth of government.
This is not to say that the anti-statists of the world will be able to vote themselves into freedom, or even shrink the size and power of government – as a philosophical change in the public’s view of the role of the State is the best and only way to achieve liberty in the long run (which is why the LP will never succeed without adopting a philosophy of liberty.) In the short run however, the freedom lovers of the world must use every practical means to stop, or at least slow the growth of the leviathan state NOW, and short of non-violent protest in the form of tax evasion and such, voting remains our most effective way of doing so.