Voting and morality: I’ll join you; will you join me?

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?


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4 Responses to Voting and morality: I’ll join you; will you join me?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Another thought
    Even if you don’t think that voting is useful, won’t you show up for our elections, just like we buy goods from your agorists, and show up for your protests and trials? Just believe that we believe that we are helping, just as we believe that you believe that you are helping. I believe that we are all helping.

  2. When the choice is between two evils, voting just helps to endorse the evil. In the campaign junk mail I’ve been receiving, just about all of it has been disgusting. It’s worst when the candidate seems momentarily to be for something good, and then turns around and shows it’s all a pretense. The only mailings that have made me inclined to support any candidates have been those attacking them (“Look! This incumbent once voted against legislation providing loot to your special-interest group!”)
    If you voted for the winning side, then it’s claimed you’re giving a mandate to whatever the candidate does. If you vote against the winner, it’s claimed that shows you had a full opportunity to participate, so the winner is “representing you.” And notice how often people claim that if you don’t vote, you’ve demonstrated that you’re “apathetic” and you forfeit your right to criticize the government. The use of lies is a clue to how much the looters fear those of us who avoid the charade of picking the wolf to devour the lambs and go straight to speaking out against the wolves.
    I don’t condemn people for voting, but I consider it an exercise in futility given the present climate of ideas.

    • maineshark says:

      And if you don’t vote, they will claim that it’s because you liked all the candidates equally.
      The fact that they will make various claims, does not impact the morality of someone else’s action.

  3. maineshark says:

    As with any other action, it comes down to context.
    No action has moral value outside of context (that is, being performed by a moral actor, with some sort of intent).
    If someone votes because he believes in the system, then the act of voting was immoral. Even if he’s a minarchist, he still supports aggression against innocent people, and is voting in order to demonstrate that support.
    In almost all elections, I write in “none of the above” for each race. And check off “no” next to any “bond issues” or other authorizations of spending. If voting were inherently evil, then my “no” and “none of the above” votes would be evil, too. And no one has shown a chain of causality where voting “none of the above” in a race or “no” on a spending item causes any evil to be done.
    Voting is essentially a religious rite. For those who believe in it, it has power and meaning. For those who do not, it looks pretty silly. I see crackers and wine, where a Catholic sees the body and blood of the Christ.
    If there were a Catholic gang going around killing non-Catholics, would it be immoral for some non-Catholic to pretend to be Catholic, and accept Communion, in order to avoid such fate, or maybe even stop it? As long as he doesn’t actually participate in the killing, he’s doing nothing immoral by pretending at some religious rite. It comes down to his intent. Does he intend to stop the killing, or just to re-direct it against some group he doesn’t like?
    I’ll probably check a box next to “Kyle Tasker” on a piece of paper, Tuesday. It’s a religious rite, and has no special meaning to me. It has meaning to those who believe in the religion called Statism, though, and might just reduce the evil they do, by some small amount. I’ll also check off “no” next to any and all spending. And write in “none of the above” several places.

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