A few friends have posted “Will you join me in committing to vote?” on my wall. As short as the question is, that invitation isn’t as simple as it seems. Alas, my answer simply cannot match the brevity of your complex question, so I’ll just use lots of words like I usually do.
Amongst philosophically-oriented liberty lovers, there’s a significant contingent who see voting itself as immoral. The most important component in their objection is this:
Forcing the outcome of a vote on unwilling participants is immoral.
Whether the mere act of voting in such a non-consensual endeavor is immoral might be more worthy of debate. But I’ll just cut to the chase here.
The reality I’m faced with is the same reality all of us here in America are faced with. That thing we know of as “government” does, in fact, exist. It does as it wishes with only trivial opposition. What it wishes for, these days, is increasingly violent against its own citizens and others – both their persons and property. I don’t endorse those activities of our governments (local, state, federal, etc.), nor of any other government. Most governments, past and present, behave these wrong ways much of the time.
The fact that our American governments generally feature some elements of democracy is not directly related to the morality of those governments. Non-democratic governments can be just as immoral, often more so. Our ability to vote, however, may give us mere peasants some influence over just how immoral our government can become.
Unfortunately, it seems many Americans actually want more, big, immoral government. I don’t. That, in fact, is the primary reason I joined the Free State Project and moved to New Hampshire. I want to work effectively with others who are like-minded towards a society whose government refrains from the immoral activities that go beyond protecting our natural rights to life, liberty and property. Some of us (Free State Project participants) who seek such a society use the ballot box as one of our tools. Some don’t due to their moral objection to voting itself.
Here’s the problem I see: while the presence (or lack) of votes doesn’t change the moral status of government’s immoral behaviors, the lack of votes favoring more-moral government virtually assures democratic governments will become less and less moral. If we serfs can discern what things government should not do, voting for more restraint in those areas may reduce the frequency and severity of immoral activity by government.
I should be very clear that casting such a vote is in no way an endorsement of voting itself as a justification for immorality. Rather, I look at it as a form of self-defense. It might not suddenly stop the violence or ‘enlighten’ the government, but it could reduce the worst of its immorality.
So yes, I’ll join you in voting. I’ll be voting in favor of more freedom – less immoral government. I hope you will, too.
Now it’s my turn to ask you a question in return. Will you join me in opposing the immoral enforcement of the outcome of our vote onto people who don’t consent?