The Anti-Electorate Manifesto

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Here
on California's central coast, the most glorious weather comes not
in summer, when tourists gather, but in fall, after the crowds have
gone home. So last weekend, I hunkered down outside a streetside
coffee house to enjoy the sunshine and general quiet, armed with
a cup of dark roast, an Ed Gorman western, and a ten-buck Macanudo.

But
my splendid afternoon was crudely interrupted. Two grinning teens
danced up and pushed a red-white-and-blue "Re-elect Gray Davis
for Governor" sign in my face. They looked too young to even
vote for the shady little conman. Caught off guard, I barked something
nonsensical and batted cigar smoke at them. The kids scooted off
to badger other innocent bystanders.

In
1970, at a libertarian conference at USC, I first heard the great
Bob LeFevre suggest we "abstain from beans." He was referring
to the act of voting in ancient Athens – different colored
beans were dropped into a box. To refuse to vote was to "abstain
from beans." This was a startling notion to a 16-year-old Young
Republican. But when I came of voting age two years later, I avoided
the polls deliberately. Since then, I've only strayed once from
my principles and cast a ballot.

A
few years back, the Los Angeles Times reported that in California
alone, the "Anti-Electorate" – those like myself
who could vote but refrain by choice – was about 14
million. Imagine what those numbers would be today. Imagine the
national figures.

Of
course, Big Media, political wonks, and Hollywood's get-out-the-vote
"Left" insist that we members of the Anti-Electorate are
too lazy and/or apathetic to exercise the right to choose our own
masters.

Baloney.
More and more, non-voting has become a conscious choice for
Americans. And as Frank Chodorov wrote almost 60 years ago: "Remember
that the proposal to quit voting is basically revolutionary; it
amounts to a shifting of power from one group to another, which
is the essence of revolution…. Unlike other revolutions, it calls
for no organization, no violence, no war fund, no leader to sell
it out. In the quiet of his conscience each citizen pledges himself,
to himself, not to give moral support to an unmoral institution,
and on election day he remains at home. That's all."

A
decade ago, inspired by Chodorov, I first published "The Anti-Electorate
Manifesto."

We,
the Anti-Electorate, do not believe there is a need for "strong
leadership" in government.

We
are not drawn to "intellectual" authorities and political
"heroes."

We
are not impressed with titles, ranks, and pecking orders
– politicians, celebrities, and gurus.

We
do not struggle for control of organizations, social circles,
and government.

We
do not lobby the State for favors or permission to control those
with whom we disagree.

Rather,
we advocate freedom.

By
its very nature, the State does not.

Exercise
your right to say "No" to the warfare-welfare system.

Refuse
to vote. Then tell your friends why.

I
wish now I'd been better prepared last Saturday for my young political
assailants. I could have handed them a copy of my manifesto. Maybe,
just as Bob LeFevre did for me more than 30 years ago, I would have
inspired them to "abstain from beans."

September
26, 2002

Wally
Conger [send him mail] is a
marketing consultant and writer living on California's central coast.
He has been
a non-political, anti-party activist in the libertarian movement
since 1970. He has a website, www.WConger.com.

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