Was I Wrong About Voting?
By Wilton Alston
“The fact that the party of organized money thinks the right to vote is worth taking away says that it must be worth quite a lot.” ~ Ryan Cooper from, The case for voting…
One of the things one must try to do in his spare time is keep somewhat current. And while I am absolutely certain my choice of reading material can leave a lot of stones unturned, I still enjoy reading periodic offerings from The Week, from which the above citation by Ryan Cooper is taken.
As someone who is on record repeatedly, vociferously, and often unapologetically, as a proponent of non-voting, the article piqued my interest. Would Cooper provide some logic, some morsel of truth that would convince me that my long-held view was erroneous? Would my voting-is-a-waste-of-time position—a position I relish sharing with such radical libertarian luminaries as Butler Shaffer—be shown, once and for all, to be erroneous? Would I have to print a stern retraction to my personal favorite [in name] piece, “I Don’t Mind If You Keep Voting, But Do You Mind If Keep Laughing While You Do?” Would the flak I took for publicly wondering, “Has Voting Ever Been a Right Worth Dying For?” now be in vain?
It is not that Cooper does not make a compelling case. To the contrary, he does. It is for reasons that Cooper misses, or does not “get,” that my position remains unchanged and for me, valid. In fact, it is in the cited quote that the basis for my position is found. Certainly, one can ascertain that someone feels like voting is important, based upon the evil machinations undertaken to keep people from doing it. As Cooper so aptly put it, “the fact that [whoever] thinks that the right to vote is worth taking away says that it must be worth quite a lot.” (Let us, for the time being, not quibble with Cooper’s mischaracterizing the privilege of voting as a right. Rights, legitimate ones, do not infringe upon other people. Electoral voting in the United States is directly based upon determining how much one will infringe upon another, and in which ways. Ergo, it can only be a privilege, but anyway…)
With apologies for stating the obvious, voting is valuable to those who benefit from it—primarily political operatives and their worshipful plebeians. Because something is valuable to someone is no reason to assume that everyone should value it. That’s Subjective Value 101. However, there is more to it than that. Statist Criminals—or as Cooper refers to them, “the party of organized money”—value control and power above all else. What “they” obtain via the ballot box is authorization to use that power. (Cooper seems to believe that there is only one Party of Organized Money, but maybe that’s better left for another essay.)
They also obtain, via the ability to off-load both financial and moral responsibility, a get-out-of-jail-free card for any subsequent heinous activities. (Anybody heard about Bush or Cheney being charged with war crimes? Me neither. If you are a believer in “Hope” have no fear. Obama is safe too.) Not only is it true that no one deserves such power, more importantly, no one really benefits by taking part in a charade which has but a single purpose: To convince those who are being taken advantage of that they had a choice.
It is through voting that one generally obtains control of the Guns of the State. Some of us simply do not want to point those guns at anyone. And if you do, we’ll be damned if we will confirm that we are all culpable in the all-too-predictable outcome.
Some have said that voting is, “the suggestion box for slaves.” I tend to agree. Given that one cannot vote to not be a slave, taking part in such efforts remains a waste of my time. Others have opined that, “if voting changed anything, they wouldn’t let you do it.” This is also somewhat true, but also somewhat false.
What voting does is provide direct indication that he who took part supports the eventual outcome. That he believes in the contest at its root. So, while voting may not really change crucial parts of the outcome—for example, the United States would still have troops deployed in Iraq no matter who was currently in the White House—it makes the participant a willing one. Some of us have long since stopped being such. And we feel better for it, regardless of the outcome of some supposedly democratic popularity contest.