A Vote Note

My friends react with horror to my remark that I do not intend to vote in any future national elections. Both offer the same objection: "If you don’t vote, how can you complain about the actions of the government?"

I presume they make that complaint because it is the first thing which pops into their heads. It certainly seems, at first blush, to have validity. In fact, it is utterly vacuous. Since we are lunching together, I ask, "Did you vote for the cook?" Their puzzled look inspires my next question.

"Did you ever fly on an airliner?" I ask. "Sure," is the reply. "So what?"

"Did you vote for the pilot?" Furrowed brows, quizzical stares. "No, of course not. Why should we?"

"Exactly. You expected that the pilot, whoever he was, would be qualified to do the job, right?" "Of course."

"And if, for some reason, there had been no pilot, would voting on which passenger was to fly the plane have made any sense?" Impatient shakes of the head. "No!"

"Well, there you have it. The President’s job is not complex. His duties are listed in the Constitution, and they are not difficult. If the man elected to the job were to fulfill those duties, and uphold his oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, what difference would it make who he was? Did it matter who flew the plane, drove the bus, or delivered the milk? Similarly, if the man elected had no intention of fulfilling the duties of President, would that be OK if he had been elected by a landslide?"

Comprehension slowly dawns. There remain half-hearted objections to the effect that, of two men who could faithfully perform the duties of President, one of them might be better at the job than the other. But how could we possibly know that? Election campaigns are more designed to attack the opponent than reveal the candidate’s actual motives in seeking office. It is universally recognized that campaign promises are nonsense: in any event, they have no legal binding force, and the candidate cannot be compelled to adhere to them, should he even remember them. One only has to look at the campaign promises of FDR, and contrast them to his actual performance in office, to realize that campaign rhetoric is hogwash designed to deceive or distract.

Besides, if voting is the right way to select people for important (more or less) jobs, why should it be limited to politics? Why NOT vote for the pilot of your next airline flight? "If you survived an airliner crash, would you sue your fellow survivors, if any, and the families of the passengers who died?" Blank stares. "Huh?"

"Well, they failed to do their duty to vote for the best man for pilot. Had they voted, they might have elected someone who would have avoided this disaster. Their indifference might have cost people their lives! Or would you say that, even had the pilot staggered aboard drunk, you still have no cause for complaint, because you didn’t vote for him?"

I warm to my subject, pointing out that Presidents have dozens, if not hundreds, of advisers, and nobody votes for them; indeed, their very identity is known to few of us. Moreover, Supreme Court Justices, whose fantasies, written down, are considered the "law of the land," are not elected, although they are at least as important as the President.

I point out that there is no other corporation which puts people in high positions based upon the votes of thousands of people — not even shareholders! — who have never met them, know almost nothing about them, and even less about the operation of the business. Moreover, the direction of government, regardless of elections, has moved steadily in the same direction for the past century, at least. That direction, to put it simply, is toward fascism: government control of virtually all "private" business, and thus, indirectly, over all individuals. This is regardless of the voters ejecting from office liberals, in favor of conservatives, or vice-versa. Nothing changes. Voting only encourages them. Blatantly unconstitutional government activities continue unabated, and new ones are added.

Finally, I ask how it can be that the losing candidates invariably pledge their support to the victor, whom they had previously denounced? Well, maybe because, in the primaries, at least, they were all Democrats, or Republicans. But even after the general election, the loser for the Presidency calls upon his followers to support the new President, and pledges that he, too, will work with the man whose election, he had charged only a day before, would bring about the end of civilization. Wouldn’t logic dictate that the loser express his horror at the appalling choice made by the voters, and pledge his undying opposition to the winner? If the loser ran his campaign on principle (and don’t they all!), then evidently those principles were at odds with those of his opponent. Yet, after losing, he apparently throws his principles out with the other trash, and urges his disciples to set aside "divisiveness" and work with the victor! It’s a con!

"So," I start to ask my friends, "how has voting changed government in your lifetime?" But they’ve left, shaking their heads. Well, if I’ve lost a couple of friends, it’s my own fault. I didn’t vote for them!

Dr. Hein [send him mail] is a retired ophthalmologist in St. Louis, and the author of All Work & No Pay.