Wednesday, October 26, 2005

To Vote or Not to Vote

I have been mulling over the “vote – don’t vote” debate for a while now. Last November when it was seriously pointed out to me for the first time that voting was a bad idea because it was merely buying into the system, I didn’t accept the argument. Like most people I know, I was brought up to believe that voting was a right I had to exercise, that not voting was giving up my voice, that change could be brought about from within the system.

Of course I was also told never to “throw away my vote” by voting for a 3rd party candidate, which is so totalitarian that I can hardly believe I ever bought into it.

I have been reading on the subject of not voting, especially the non-voting archives at Strike The Root and Lew Rockwell:

The essays made little sense to me at first, and I did not like the way some of the writers dismissed people who vote as stupid – I still think that is unfair. But I kept thinking about the issue and debating it in my head (in a slightly schizophrenic manner), and I have finally come to some conclusions:

My votes, and I have cast many since I turned 18, have never made a difference.

Our system of government does not work and it is never going to work. The system cannot be changed from within because it is too corrupt.

Voting for the lesser of two evils makes no sense. Voting for a 3rd party candidate is not productive because you are still endorsing the system thereby perpetuating its counterfeit legitimacy.

There are many other arguments for not voting as I found through my exploration of the non-voting archives. If you don’t believe me, go have a look for yourself.


Anonymous said...

I am certainly not an apoligist for the old US of A but it's not your country ("Our system of government..." as long as you live abroad. Just the same as when we were in Israel thinking how could American Jews dare criticize Israeli policies when they wont come live here and affect change.


Monkey's Max said...

B -
First of all, I do not feel that place of residence makes a difference to a person's right to find fault with a government or its policies. It is more about knowledge and information.
Your analogy is no good anyway because I am a citizen of the US no matter where I live.

Riggs is Crazy said...

Do or do not, there is no try.

Monkey's Max said...

Riggs, what are you talking about?

Anonymous A-Hole said...

Write in the name of someone you truly believe in.

Anonymous said...

Legally yes, you area a US citizen, but you voted with your feet. You cannot have it both ways, so there's no reason for your angst.


Skeeter said...


I wish I could change your mind, but I think what you're doing (or rather not doing) isn't helping matters. You've given up.
This isn't like non-violent resistance where you can stop doing something in order to affect change. Positive action (i.e., voting) is needed.
If you believe your vote doesn't matter than why not vote for a 3rd party candidate? Libertarian party hopefully, but whatever you believe in is what counts.
Have you researched all the "3rd parties" out there? If you haven't than you should. If you find one you believe in then vote for them. Even if you don't believe it will change things, it can't hurt. I don't understand the idea of "buying" into the system by voting. You're not "buying" into the sytem, you're voting for what you want. Are you going to offend anarchists if you vote? Are you worried, they'll think less of you? Screw'em.
Voting for what you believe helps.
Not voting doesn't hurt, but neither does it help.

Skeeter said...

By the way, nice jpeg. That's the Libertarian Party logo

Anonymous A-Hole said...

You know that I think you should vote, even though we tend to not agree politically.

However, since we tend to not agree politically, then a non-vote by you only strengthens my vote.


On second thought, you shouldn't vote. Your political rivals will thank you.

Writing in the name of DD on a ballot, for example, is a statement. Not voting really isn't a statement so much as it's a forfeiture. You're taking your ball and going home, as they say on the sandlot.

I had a group of employees a few years back who thought they were hilarious because they had dressed up in western garb and gone to the local rodeo. As I pointed out to them, at the end of the day, they were just four more ridiculous looking morons going to the rodeo.

Their reasons for attending the rodeo were far different from the rest of the rodeo crowd (assuming for a moment that not everyone at the rodeo is there to be funny) but, really, they were wholly indistinguishable from that crowd. They didn't look smug to me, they looked stupid.

Typically, non-voters in this country are the illiterate, the indifferent, and the insolent. Sure, a few might be trying to make a politically oriented statement by not voting but, in the end, they just end up looking like my employees at the rodeo; they look like their chosen peer group.

The exact quote for my employees that day?

"If you're the only one that gets it, then you don't get it."

Please remember, suffrage in this country was an arduous battle, and it wasn't so many years ago that women were "given" the right to vote.

Not voting is the equivalent of voting for someone you stand against.

For example, I'd argue that people that didn't vote in the last election may as well have voted for Bush. Given the chance to negate a Bush vote, non-voters chose instead to affirm it.

Please convince me otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Presuming you are mulling this over in anticipation of the November 8 special election in California, I say vote.

Ahnuld and his cronies have set this special election to steal the voices of teachers and workers, gerrymander Democrats into innercity ghetto voting districts to increase the Republican majority in Congress and chip away at abortion rights.

They could never get these measures past a regular electorate and set the special knowing that turnout would be sparse. They are counting on a heavy turnout of the religious right and for people like you to stay home. Don't let them get away with it.

Monkey's Max said...

B, I can have it both ways. I can have whatever I want.

Skeeter, I didn't know that was the Libertarian party logo - I just liked the design. And I understand what you are saying about voting, but I just don't believe it anymore. One of the articles I read was very interesting in that it gave credence to both the libertarian (non-voting) and Libertarian (voting) approaches. Everyone has to do what feels right to them.

Asshole, as far as making a statement - my ballot never gets looked at anyway. They only open the absentee/postal ballots if the vote is close enough that they could make a difference. Anyway, the last election was rigged.

Anon, I was not even considering voting this November. But Arnold did send me a jumbo-sized postcard telling me which way I should vote on the issues.

For more discussion on the topic, please feel free to visit DD's blog (link on right). Or, of course you are welcome to post more comments here.

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to vote because I never who to vote for when it comes to voting for a particular party in canada. I voted liberal because Stephen Harper reminds me too much of Bush and thought what the heck, give Pauly a chance. I also vote because feminists back in the 60`s burned bras and faught for my right as a women to vote. I can`t let them down, even when the candidates are discouraging.
So Max the next time you are called to vote, just do it for all those women who faught to give you this right.

Monkey's Max said...

Chatsy - different time, different world.