Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Get Out and Vote?

"It is a kingdom of conscience, or nothing."
--Balian of Ibelin (Kingdom of Heaven)

"Get out and vote." The mantra reaches a crescendo on election day. Since childhood, we are told that because we live in a democracy, voting is our civic duty. Ballots cast reflect 'the will of the people.' And that voting processes grounded in the democratic principle of 'majority rule' are ultimate expressions of freedom.

Perhaps it is the frequency with which these claims are drummed into our heads that causes us to generally accept them as is. However, people willing to don their critical thinking caps in search of truth of likely to conclude that some if not all stock claims underlying the "get out and vote" argument are contestable.

Let's consider one counterargument here.

The proper scope of government is to assist people in protecting their property (broadly construed) from aggression by others. When government oversteps its rightful boundaries by forcibly taking property from some for the benefit of others, then it becomes the aggressor.

When people vote for candidates or laws with demonstrated capacity for committing such aggression, then those voters become partners in crime. When they cast their ballots, those individuals are pulling levers of aggression. They become principals of violence who, by casting their ballots, are contracting with strong armed agents to do their bidding.

Under such circumstances, is there a case for casting a vote? If the situation involves voting for a candidate who sponsors less aggression than another candidate (i.e., the lesser of two evils), then the answer is no. Voting for a candidate who promises aggression against a minority of people is still employing offensive force. Greater good accounting does not suffice.

In some cases, however, it may be possible to vote for pushing government back toward its proper scope in a peaceful manner. Although they are rare, candidates occasionally surface with capacity to shrink government without side helpings of aggression. One can also vote against initiatives such tax levies in order to decrease the degree of forcible appropriation of property in the system.

Beyond those few cases of voting with peaceful profiles, "get out and vote" involves securing the services of political agents to act aggressively against others.

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