This presidential election has found me pensive on the matter of voting. There is something of a debate within voluntaryism as to whether voting is an immoral activity, or one strategy to be used in the fight for liberty. The anti-voters claim that voting is “supporting the system” and provides legitimacy to The State. The pro-voters assert that voting for whatever policy or candidate that results in the least amount of aggression is a positive (although not very effective) way of bringing about a more free world.
The most serious objection to voting is that it qualifies as an act of aggression. The reason the objectors believe this is that voting for the lesser of two evils is still evil, and that voting is authorizing immoral and horrible government power. This is patently false because the government exists, whether people vote or not! The State is just giving it’s slaves the option to choose between evils — it will force evil on the populace even if no one votes! If you have an option to vote on a ballot that will legalize marijuana even if with high taxes and regulations, that clearly isn’t authorizing aggression (which is impossible by definition), but only a selection for the reduction of government power. The same would go for voting for a Libertarian candidate, voting for a reduction in taxation, voting to reduce regulations, etc., etc.
The far more convincing argument against voting is the one which states that voting is a complete waste of time, is irrational behavior, and is focused more on exercising your “civic duty” and partaking in the sacraments of the State than it is on achieving libertarian goals. Notice that this is not so much about the morality of voting as it is about the effectiveness or strategic value of doing so. While it is absolutely true that a person has a greater chance of getting into a fatal car accident on the way to the booth than influencing the outcome, voting is still a way of reducing government power. Even if the odds are small that you will affect just a little amount of good, why wouldn’t you take advantage of every opportunity to oppose the State and minimize the amount of aggression in the world? After all, filling out an absentee ballot is positively easy and takes virtually no time or hassle — you’re not even herded into a little enclosure or made to stand in line!
Then there is the argument from those concerned with libertarian strategy that voting results in greater perceived legitimacy. However, voter turnout doesn’t have anything to do with “legitimacy”, and no one really cares how many people voted or pays any attention to those numbers, they show up to the polls because they’re passionate about what’s being voted on, not because of perceived legitimacy! I think the results of a vote matter more to people than which people didn’t vote (or why). If a Libertarian candidate gets elected, doesn’t that expose the libertarian philosophy to a large number of people, as opposed to only having the Republicans and Democrats in office? Doesn’t a Libertarian or a libertarian (non-Libertarian Party libertarian) getting lots of votes gather interest in what it is that they stand for? Besides, these people/ballot measure getting elected/passed really do make a difference – all those states that passed marijuana legalization measures are perfect examples of libertarian voting making a freer society.
In conclusion, voting is perfectly moral, doesn’t (necessarily) support the State, and can even be a somewhat effective tool to combat it. As a voluntaryist you should be doing everything you can to make a voluntary society — so go ahead, register as a Libertarian and vote without feeling like you’re doing something wrong! And, in case you were wondering, I supported Gary Johnson in the election, with Donald Trump ranking second on my preference scale, Jill Stein third, and Killary Clinton ranking last.
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