Sunday, November 09, 2008

A Dissent on Voting

I voted-- always do-- but here is an articulate essay on NOT voting. It reminds me a bit of Evelyn Waugh's assertion that it was only necessary to vote when you are opposing a great evil-- and that is rare.

"...I disagree that being one of 120 million voters means I have stood up and been counted. I disagree that voting is the same thing as patriotism. I disagree that voting is the same thing as freedom. I disagree that my forebears fought for the vote rather than liberty.

"My view of democracy is essentially a utilitarian one, not a moral one. Democracy is good insofar as it provides a check on corruption and abuse of power. It is a tool that can be used to protect liberty, but it is not liberty in itself. When it ceases to do its job, then it's time to put the tool away and use a different one that actually works."


Larissa said...

I don't think it was that great an essay. If he really wanted to make a case for not voting, he should have taken some specific examples of people voting for something(not the 2000 elections which should just be used as an exception to the rule)--keep it small scale for clarity--some proposition passing or not passing according to the way the majority voted, and THEN discussed how that didn't actually affect anyone's life was thus somehow a pointless gesture. That would be a hard case to argue, but he has to do that, to prove that voting has no effect on your life or general well-being. As it is, he just said some contrary stuff. Screw him. I'll read Waugh instead.

Steve Bodio said...

As a rabid decentralist and believer that local control is likely to be best I would argue that it is most important to vote in your own back yard, and less as the scale goes up. Not all elections are equal. If you vote in a presidential election in a closely divided state, fine, but I could argue what use is a vote for McCain in Massachusetts or Obama in Alaska?

If you have complicated opinions you may find little to like in the binary process of choosing between two politicians.

More importantly, I agree, read Waugh-- and Kipling, who in "As Easy as A B C" reminded us that a majority is not necessarily RIGHT. More than one demagogue has been elected.

Anonymous said...

One of my pet peeves is the "politically correct" (never more appropriate than when actually discussing politics!) idea that if you don't vote, you are somehow not patriotic, and have no right to complain. If you don't know, like or trust any of the candidates, WHY would you vote--just to try and be "PC"? What might the consequences of that be? NOT voting sometimes, is as important a statement as voting is--I have not voted before(although not this past election!), and buddy, I will STILL complain all I desire! I always like to use the extreme example of--if you had to vote between a Hitler and a Mussolini,(even if it were for the lesser of two evils) would you still vote, or CHOOSE to not be associated with either? That is part of Democracy as well. If someone doesn't have a clue, and falls for all the campaigning propaganda that goes on, they may do MORE harm voting than not! I say, if you are well informed, trust and are inspired by someone, by all means, vote. If not, do your country a service and stay away from the polls!....L.B.

PBurns said...

Steve, you ask: "What use is a vote for McCain in Massachusetts or Obama in Alaska?"

Actually, quite a lot, and you provide the example.

Because Obama voters did not go to the polls in Alaska, the state now has Ted Stevens, a six-times convicted felon, as Senator.

The point here is a simple one: You do not vote for one candidate in an election -- you vote for quite a number of them, including members of the legislature, school board representatives, bond issues, etc.

If someone did not vote in this last election, they do not care about national OR local issues. I do not know of a single election in this country where every vote on the ballot was decided by wide margins.


JT said...

Great? No. But he had a point... and I believe there's a bigger one most are missing:

When we cast our vote, we're picking from the Chinese Menu. One from Column A, one from Column B. But the choices are not of our making. They have been decided by powerbrokers well in advance. I might have voted for someone besides Obama, had there been a sane alternative available. But the Dems and the GOP are choosing for us what we're going to vote for -- er, from. In my case, McCain wasn't convincing as a leader, and Palin was simply too dumb to ever be in the White House as any more than a visitor or maid. So... Column A will be Obama. Column B?

There are many ways to run a Democratic Republic, or a democracy, or any other form of government that isn't a dictatorship. Holland has an interesting concept that does not allow any one party a majority, forcing all to work together. The result is that at least 66 percent are getting what they want, which is a damned sight better than our 51 percent.

The bottom line? Yes, I voted. I helped Obama get elected, and hope he is able to take the Oval Office for at least one term, perhaps two. But did I vote FOR him? How can we vote meaningfully FOR anyone when we got just those two candidates with a realistic snowball's chance in Hades of getting in at all?

Would you like a black eye, or a bloody nose? What? No third choice, a nice cup of gelato, perhaps?

When it's as crucial as this election was, we couldn't afford not to vote, if only to find out if the voting system was even still intact.