It’s that day again when the airways are cluttered with advertisements begging you not to vote for that guy/girl because the world might end if you do. Depending on the election cycle, more than half choose to ignore these pleas and sit at home or work and continue on their merry day as usual. Amazingly, the world never ends.
If we are to believe the average flag waver, it is your civic duty to go out and vote even if you don’t like the options which are being shoved down your throat. Not voting is practically sacrilegious for many of them. They’ll say something cute like, “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain!” Please resist the urge to poke them in the eye.
I haven’t voted in almost two decades and I complain all the time. Moreover, I’m willing to bet that I have done more research on the candidates and process of voting itself than the average voter. There is a long and logically defensible list of reasons why a person shouldn’t vote. In order to avoid boring you with details, here is the CliffNotes version before we continue:
First and foremost, your vote doesn’t matter. The mathematical odds of your ballot being the deciding factor in an election on a national scale are essentially zero and only barely discernible in your average local election.
Even assuming that your vote makes some sort of difference in who gets elected, the particular logic for voting for that person is irrelevant. Campaign promises are never kept. Even supposing a politician attempts to keep his promises, neither the president nor a single member of Congress can dictate changes to government policy.
Speaking of policy promises, politics is divisive. In order to differentiate oneself from the opposition, a candidate must focus on issues for which a divergence may be noted. This means campaigns turn from a positive agenda of progress into a negative agenda turning the opposition into the enemy. In other words, it frames politics in an “us” versus “them” mentality.
But it does this rightfully so. Politics isn’t divisive because of bad politicians; it is divisive because political power must ultimately be directed in one direction. In a market economy, one person’s choices do not directly restrict or prevent the choices of others. You might prefer to eat at McDonald’s, another person might prefer to eat at Ruby Tuesday, and I might choose to eat at home. We all may peacefully and concurrently have our own choices. Political choices are win or lose scenarios. If you get your way, I don’t get my way. There is no way to peacefully coexist in a political environment unless the power held by politicians is insignificant.
This lack of power prevents politicians from following through with their campaign promises which, in turn, causes voters to demand future politicians to do a “better job” than their predecessors. In other words, voter backlash encourages politicians to acquire more power. More power grants more control which causes more disagreement which in turn grants more power. It’s a great cycle for politicians. In the end, politics attracts those who desire power. As we all know, those who desire power almost never have altruistic intentions.
Politicians themselves rely on our ignorance. They love to hear people say it is your “civic duty” to vote because they know that the average person knows next to nothing about politics or individual politicians. Nobody would be so dense to suggest that it would be perfectly okay to get your car fixed by someone who knows nothing about automotives, but almost nobody bats an eye when we hear the same nonsense tossed out with regards to voting. Whereas your choice of auto mechanics is almost completely irrelevant with regards to my life and the life of others, your voting habits can directly affect the lives of others. Morally speaking, voting should be banned.
And the most damning part which almost everyone conveniently leaves out is the bureaucracy. Regardless of who gets elected, millions of government employees continue to show up to their jobs and do their best to convince the boss that their job continues to be necessary. The vast bulk of the regulatory burden comes not from elected politicians, but from these nonelected bureaucrats.
Finally, this gets us to the reasons why I almost voted.
America has turned into an oligopoly. Power is held in the hands of a powerful elite which encourages the appearance of choice for the average citizen. The citizenry itself has gradually turned from a nearly universal productive class into a small productive class clashing with a larger and larger parasitical class. Over half of American citizens pay no income tax. Over half of the federal budget goes to entitlement spending.
Almost every politician bases his campaign on one issue: granting benefits to the citizenry. This is why I almost voted. For whatever reason, the major parties chose two of the most vile and morally depraved individuals they could find to run for president. This was the perfect opportunity to introduce a candidate with a positive message of reducing government influence over our lives. To convince others that the only peaceful choice is one with a smaller and less powerful government. And more importantly, to reduce the stranglehold on power by the Big Two duopoly.
Unfortunately, the most likely avenue of this message – the Libertarian Party – also had the misfortune to select a subpar candidate who did little to engage and energize the citizenry. If this was 2008 or 2012, we would be waking up to a President-elect Ron Paul. As it is, we’ll be waking up to a President-elect status quo.
Hooray for more of the same!