Begrudging Another Battle of Ballot-Boxing

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A lot of highly-motivated
and principled people have put an incredible amount of hard work
and money into getting thousands to voting booths for Libertarian
Party (LP) and Republican Liberty Caucus (RLC) candidates when in
most, certainly in all non-local, elections, there was no realistic
prospect of election. The numbers show it and these friends of liberty
should be justly proud of it. There may even be a state-wide candidate
or two who received a majority of votes somewhere, although I have
yet to hear of any. There will most certainly be a few local offices
filled by some open, out-of-the-closet libertarian who will be touted
as the latest poster-child for the LP or RLC, allowing them to point
and proclaim, “Yes, You See! We’ve won again!” The totals
may be lower, the popularity of the Great Libertarian Elect may
not have been noticed as well as the last campaign, but it sure
felt good to see that candidate gallop to the victory circle with
the flowers, didn’t it? I even had a twinge of pride for a moment.
A fellow libertarian won! Even if it was only for garbage collector
or animal control.

But did
we?

Over the
last thirty-five years, libertarians have been pouring scarce resources,
our labor, finances and heart, into such campaigns, and the result
has not weathered the test of time. The state is stronger than ever,
engaging in futile wars without a thought about the U.S. Constitution,
growing like a cancerous tumor metastasizing in every possible direction.
The individual states have increased in power and influence, with
state taxes, regulations, controls, prohibitions and the like. Local
municipalities have grown with financial budgets the size which
can only be compared to nations abroad; and even the invention and
massive growth of “quasi-municipalities” such as Home Owner
Associations has occurred without individual citizens’ recourse
to civil liberties and rights.

Has either
the LP or RLC stopped this growth? Has either group even slowed
the process? Not that anyone can see.

When John
Hospers arrived at the Los Angeles Airport from the first Libertarian
Party Convention in Colorado, June, 1972, I was there waiting for
a friend of mine arriving on the same flight from the same convention.
When I saw Dr. Hospers (we had met previously at a USC Conference),
I asked him if he had seen my friend, and then asked him what fool
had received the LP Convention nomination as their presidential
candidate. He looked at me somewhat oddly and mumbled to me as he
passed on. I discovered later that he was the Grand Elector. My
opinion has yet to change about the consequences of the LP. It is
an exercise in tomfoolery.

The only
options, outside of third-parties, as I have been told time and
time again, are working within major parties or the dreaded non-participation
alternative: non-voting, to which the old canard is tossed – “if
you don’t vote you have no right to complain!”

Well, I
have tried working within the regular parties and found it wanting.
As I initiated my own process of discovery about politics after
discovering the libertarianism of Paine, Chodorov and Rand, I quickly
became Area Coordinator for a group of Young Republican clubs (campus
and community) for the Southeastern section of Los Angeles County
and worked with YRs and the upper levels of the Republican Party
in L.A. County, both elected and appointed. It didn’t take long
to notice a significant difference in attitude between the two groups:
the individual members wanted freedom. They wanted the government
off of their backs and out of their pockets. That was what the GOP
meant to them. The goals of the leadership was another thing altogether.
They wanted funds, services, and the influence which more and more
active supporters were to provide for them. The ultimate goal was
the accumulation of power in their own hands and in their control,
and they wanted me to be part of it. Party politics is a racket
and it didn’t take long to discover this. I considered moving further
up the political ladder but I was more constituted for freedom than
authority. I quit. I would neither be a controller nor one of the
controlled. For some, it would have been a dream come true – money,
power, and more power. Not for me.

I then
began working with the “Peace and Freedom” party in California,
but saw power-politics almost immediately. I came to the realization
that corruption was inherent in the political process, and left
politicking forever. Third-party politics left a sour taste in me.

That left
me with the last option, the anti-ballot.

I found,
upon reflection, it isn’t strictly nonvoting, but rather voting
in the marketplace as opposed to participating in ballot-boxing.
In the marketplace, your choices and decisions are unanimously made.
You and another party agree on a purchase price and sales price.
You make the trade. That’s it.

In politics,
your vote publicly acknowledges that the question at issue can be
rightfully decided by majority vote, and you tacitly agree to the
consequences, whatever they may be. If you participate in voting
for prohibition of marijuana, or for an immoral war, you have acknowledged
the justice of the decision-process as well as the outcome. It may
have been one vote short of unanimity or one less than a majority,
it’s your acceptance of the process which provides it with legitimacy.

In effect,
this is a recognition, not of the “if you don’t vote you have
no right to complain”, but of its inverse: “if you vote,
you have no right to complain” – a point which politicians, in
their attempt to push their civic religion upon you, fail to mention.

If we play
a game of chance with set rules and you win goodies from me, there
is no reason for me to object, for you have played by the rules.
Likewise, if I win, you have no objection (being a non-cheater myself,
of course!). That’s the way it’s played. If you decide to play and
I don’t want to, that’s another matter. If you take my goodies from
me, proclaiming you are playing the game and I’m not, then of course
I have a right to object! And I will, too!

The political
vote may be for a particular agenda, like a proposition or referendum,
or for a person, which is more unpredictable in its outcome. When
you vote for a particular issue, then it is presumed the agenda
will proceed once the ballots are tallied and the agenda agreed
upon. A person in an election has an immediate vote, yes or no,
whether they attain power or not. If the vote is no, assuming a
yes or no, up or down, choice, then that person has not gained the
office of power and will have no control over you. However, the
voting process in a representative democracy such as in the U.S.,
is not as simple as that. There will be a choice of multiple candidates,
or parties, upon which you are to choose. Once one person or party
is chosen, then they are in power until another vote takes place
and sends them away. This leaves you without control over the matters
which The Chosen One can decide upon.

Unlike
the marketplace, where the purchase of goods and services is definite
and specific, The Chosen One can do pretty much what he wants to
do until re-election comes back around. Whereas the marketplace
operates constantly throughout the year, The Chosen One has no such
restrictions, save for ballot-boxing day. We’re not mind-readers,
and we will never know the intent or plans hiding in any person’s
brain, especially someone in politics.

But what
if The Chosen One is a libertarian, you ask? What if The Chosen
One is part of an elite corps of libertarians who have made a pact
with each other to toe the libertarian line, sing the libertarian
song and salute the libertarian flag? What if he is a member of
the Libertarian Party?

Hey, libertarians
are great people and I love being around them! I love socializing
with fellow libertarians and think the world of them (some of my
best friends are…, well, you know). But the Libertarian Party
can only go so far and no more in promoting libertarianism. Libertarians
are human, and political institutions direct thoughts and energies
toward specific goals; not only because it is political power which
is sought, but because it is the prospect of obtaining power which
directs the energies of the LP. Indeed, even the whiff of a chance
of a possibility of attaining power will completely cloud men’s
minds.

Politics
is the Great Moral Compromise, and political institutions, in order
to attain power, must follow the dictates of moral compromise. Regardless
of the personal morality of any individual in power, once having
obtained the reins of power, power can and must be used. The effort
to seek office leads to giving up one’s principles because we do
not live in a libertarian world. Some people want the state to provide
one service; others prefer another, each person’s moral values will
come into conflict with another’s and some form of compromise must
occur. That’s politics. Each service requires the use of force,
if for no other reason than to receive taxes which maintain the
instrumentalities of the state. The stronger a state becomes, the
more taxes it requires; the more taxes required, the more force
needed to enforce the dictates of the state. The cycle of abuse
is inherent in the state, and proclamations about limiting the power
of government will do little to alleviate this matter.

Agents
of the state use the fact that many vote as evidence they are legitimate
representatives. They need this legitimacy if their actions are
to be viewed as acceptable by the general populace. It being discovered
long ago that so long as the proportion of the populace which holds
the state in favor increases, the fewer resources a state needs
to use in order to keep the rest under control. That is, the greater
legitimacy a state has, the less it needs to use violence against
any single person or faction. A state which continually uses violence
to achieve its ends would soon be seen for exactly what it was:
a criminal ring.

Where does
this lead the LP? In order to become successful, it must limit its
own conscience and principles to fewer and fewer ideals. If it doesn’t,
it will fail to collect an ever-growing number of votes. If a member
of the LP were ever elected, you would still never know what he
was going to vote for in office. He has been elected, not to represent
the LP, but to represent the needs of his electorate – and they will
be very demanding of him – both the citizens and the special interests
who have provided the financial support for his election. The opportunities
offered, the reputation among his all-important peers, and his admiring
interest groupies will turn him in a direction which he may never
have considered before.

In supporting
the political anti-vote, I’m not going to proclaim the non-voting
public are of a single mind about this because there are many reasons
for not ballot-boxing. Some may refrain from the voting booth because
they dislike taking the time out for such a wasted effort. Some
just may have forgotten about it. The reasons go on and on. I can
only speak for myself, and encourage others to understand those
reasons. At the same time, however, I am continually voting in the
marketplace for products, services, and even ideas! And encouraging
others to do the same – and educating them about the virtues of the
freedom philosophy and the problems inherent in statism.

Now I often
hear all about voting as self-defense. It usually goes something
like this: “A vote for the LP is not only a vote for the reduction
of the state and its violence, it’s an act of self-defense. If I
vote to reduce the initiation of aggression, I am not engaging in
any act of violence to any degree whatsoever.”

Aren’t
you foolish to turn down the use of the ballot-box? You may even
recognize it destroys morality and is pervasive in our society.
So many people have used it that you are truly tempted to use it
yourself. If others do it, it must be OK. Countless others have,
some more successful than most others. Certainly the incentives
are there, and it becomes easier each time the ballot-box is used.
You’re just being civic-minded, that’s all.

Ballot-boxing
is a process whereby one gives consent to being governed by another.
Voting is the most common form of legitimization. It fulfills the
purpose of political legitimization because one has tacitly and
publicly accepted the principle that those who play the game must
accept the outcome, no matter whether you are on the winning or
losing side. Why do politicians plead that everyone’s civic duty
is to get out and vote? It is because voting is recognized as public
legitimization of the political process. You have committed yourself
to being governed. Through ballot-boxing you have accepted the process
of statism as a way of life and proclaimed for all to hear you are
part of the ruled. Through ballot-boxing you have sanctioned not
only your own victimhood, but of others as well. You have tacitly
accepted and publicly informed your family, friends and communicants
your primary recourse is political, and you must hire this third
party, the state, to inflict violence on others. You have announced
to the world, "I must engage the engines of the state to
bulldoze a path through all who are in my way!!" This is
self-defense? This is not aggression? Who has paid for the ballot
booth? Who has directed the state to go forth and prosper! You,
my friend. Taxpayers have paid for the process, agents of the state
rely upon it and claim it for themselves, and are more than happy
to have you involved with them.

There are
boundaries to self-defense, a proportionality that limits one’s
actions from harming the innocent while protecting yourself, and
sustaining injury to no others than the perpetrator from whom you
need safety. You are responsible for any harm you may do to the
innocent, even while engaging in self-defense. Ballot-boxing is
a path best avoided, for it is fraught with many dangers in the
pursuit of said self-defense. It is a weapon which does not stop
on command and is akin to fighting an opponent carrying a stick
with an atom bombu2014yes, that stops the opponent, but it also maims
or kills any nearby and leaves a deadly residue for many years to
come. This is a point all-too often ignored.

Ballot-boxing
enables statism and gives it the drive and power to continue. People
line up to use the ballot booth for the satisfaction of their own
dream and desire by giving indefinite power to those who are more
than willing to use it for far more. The voting public is not clean
of the consequent use of power, for by such voting, each endorses
the statism under which he lives. By the act of voting, each is
saying: “It’s right and proper for some, acting in the name of
the state, to pass laws and to use violence to compel obedience
to those laws if they are not obeyed.” Each, through the process
of voting, sanctions the violence used by agents of the state. Each
voter assumes the right to appoint a political guardian over other
human beings.

Our social
realm succeeds because we vote constantly in the marketplace for
the goods and services which we need and desire. There is no plunder
in our profit, only the produce of willing hands and hearts which
we purchase and sell with the coin of the realm. The social world
advances with every refinement of choice, every act of profit, recompensing
each for the products and services which are placed in the hands
of others within the marketplace. We perfect our needs and desires
through this repetitive compensation of others for their needs and
desires. This social vote is far more productive, more powerful
than a vote in a ballot-box. This is freedom; the rewards are greater
than the state can put into anyone’s hands. Each step of discovery
of another market alternative to some violent occurrence (whether
by the hands of the state or by a different criminal ring) takes
us closer to freedom and further from harm. This is the cycle of
progress.

Take
the next step to freedom, my friend. Leave politics behind.

November
23, 2006

Kenneth
R. Gregg (send him mail) writes
from Las Vegas where dreams, sometimes, come true. He blogs at CLASSical
Liberalism
, Spencer
Heath
, Charles
T. Sprading
, and at Liberty
& Power
.

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