This will probably be an unpopular post with most of the people that read my blog, but it’s something I need to get out. I think I have discovered a few previously unknown (to me) truths. I am sure that what I’ve discovered is true, but perhaps my current understanding doesn’t yet represent the whole truth. Like many things I post here this will be mostly,about me working out my own thinking, with perhaps the “gravy” that someone might help me gain some additional perspective in the comments.
Yesterday was primary day in the commonwealth of Kentucky and this year I didn’t vote. There is the practical matter that I am out of town so unable to make it to my polling place. Its probably more interesting though to explore the principles that would have kept me home even if I was in town. And not just for this particular election, but for all future elections: I am done with voting.
There are few ideas that have lead me to this decision:
- First, a practical point: it really doesn’t matter whether any one person votes or not. Now and again you will see an election decided by one vote, but these are the small minority compared the vast majority of elections that happen every year. In general I am done doing things that don’t matter – too much to do to waste time doing things that don’t matter.
- Next is the issue of consent. The commonly held belief is by casting your ballot you have expressed your view. The belief continues that since your voice has been heard, you have given your consent to the person elected, even if its not the person you voted for. Whatever they do once elected, it’s OK since they have been democratically elected – they have our consent. Although this is a rather fragile line of thinking, I would rather be able to say to the majority who hold this view that I have withheld my consent. If that is a predicate to a discussion about how “it’s my duty to vote” or that by not voting I’m “letting others make decisions for me”, so be it. Hopefully whoever starts that discussion with me will stick around long enough to hear a few thoughts about the real meaning of free choice.
- And lastly a point of conscious. I have come to the conclusion that voting is a form of violence, albeit one by proxy. You vote for people because they say they will do something that you want done (whether they do it or not is the subject of another post). To accomplish what you want done it’s quite likely that they will have to force someone (maybe even you) to something they don’t want to do or keep them from doing something that they want to do. If they don’t apply force to accomplish what you want, it’s a certainty that they will at least once in their term to accomplish something for someone else – and most likely they will do it many times. If the simple force of conformity or shame doesn’t work, then physical force will often follow, usually through another proxy. The false justification for this use of violence by a chosen few starts at the ballot box.
If you asked the common peasant from 500 years ago why the king or queen had the right to rule over then you would get some derivative of the divine right of kings. Over time! we recognized that a watery tart distributing swords is no basis for a system of government and we came up with something we thought would work better. I think we have enough experience the new system, the current system to realize we’ve simply replaced a tyranny justified by God with a tyranny justified by 51% of the masses. I think its time we try something new.