Why I am not voting

I am not registered to vote. I do not intend to vote in this year's elections.

According to the claims of some, this means that I am indifferent to the political process; I am letting others do my thinking for me; or I approve of whoever is elected. It is only necessary to read my other essays on this site to see that those claims are nonsense.

I do not vote in the political system which we now have, because I do not care to participate in a process which is basically opposed to my principles. I am not opposed to electing a government, provided the intended purpose is to elect the people who will administer a rational and just government. I don't expect that goal to be met all of the time, nor do I expect people to agree with me on what is rational and just.

But the existing political system lacks even the intent, beyond occasional lip service. Candidates, from the Presidency to the lowest local office, appeal not to principles of just government, but to the favors which they can grant some people at the expense of others. In many cases, this includes direct transfers of money. In other cases, it is transfer of power through compulsion.

Both liberals and conservatives believe it is right to use the coercive power of government to force their morality on others; liberals do this with laws restricting the freedom of businesses to choose whom they will deal with, conservatives do it by attempting to give their religion and its decrees the force of law. Liberals are merely more hypocritical about it, since they claim to be against legislating morality. (Here I am using the term "liberal" in its popular sense, which is the opposite of its root sense, "advocate of liberty.")

Both liberals and conservatives believe it is right to take some people's money to give to others through taxation. Here it is the conservatives who are the hypocrites, claiming to oppose such legislation while regularly voting for it.

If the problem were just that the politicians in office were cheating the voters, then it would be worth voting to replace them. But what we have is what the voters want. People, in the overwhelming majority, don't want better government; they want a government that will provide them with advantages at someone else's expense. They may want governmental funding for their scientific venture or for their tobacco farm. They may want to force employers to hire homosexuals, or to punish people for being homosexuals. They may want to command schoolchildren to worship Yahweh, or to forbid anyone from saying anything offensive to any religion.

I have seen people applaud the suppression of debate that might threaten the flow of money into their pockets. I have then seen the offenders' opponents, supposedly dedicated to fighting corruption, evade the issue and try to foist principled government on a population by subterfuge. (You can imagine how much "principled government" such people would ever actually implement.)

Even the Libertarian Party, formerly "The Party of Principle," has sunk into scandals and petty infighting, and has come to focus on getting candidates on ballots and achieving higher vote percentages rather than on addressing principles.

I do not believe that these conditions are beyond change, but I do believe that participating in the voting process is worse than useless given the present state of affairs. If I were to vote, I could only try to redirect the process of mutual looting; no vote I could cast would help to stop it. I would only be registering approval of the process.

This does not mean, contrary to the standard anti-non-voter propaganda, that I am "apathetic" or "satisfied." Nor does it mean that I have given my consent to whatever is done to me; it is the act of voting which would grant consent. If the anti-non-voter propagandists believed what they said, they would be pointing to the election boycotts which occur from time to time in various countries as examples of indifference and satisfaction. Somehow they never make such claims.

I speak out publicly; I engage in debates; I write letters; and, above all, I live my life in a way that will maximize my own liberty and give those who would try to run my life the fewest opportunities to interfere with it.

I don't expect to change a world which is run in a way which I consider disgusting. I can try to minimize the damage which it does to me and to those I care about. Therefore, I do not participate in a process which, as presently constituted, cannot possibly help me achieve my goal.

Copyright 2002 by Gary McGath

Last updated November 4, 2002

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