Go Vote Yourself!

The next election is still a ways off, but already I’m giving due consideration to which lever I will pull.

I’m not talking about the lever in the voting booth, mind you. No, I mean the one on a slot machine. You see, next election day I’ve decided to drive over to Biloxi, Mississippi and have a crack at the one-armed bandits. On the whole, I’ve determined this is a better way to spend my time. The decision I’m facing is: nickel, quarter, or dollar?

If you’re like me and don’t mind your similes loosely applied, then you’ll appreciate it when I say: pulling the lever on a slot machine is much like doing it in the voting booth. First of all, the outcome is rarely going to match your expectations. Second, the slot machine produces no wealth on its own; it merely redistributes what others have put into it. Third, it doles out just enough to keep you coming back and keeps the rest.

Some time ago, I was convinced by an argument of Wendy McElroy’s that voting is largely for the birds, or would be if birds were trained to punch out chads. Others have persuasively argued that if you choose to vote at all, you should vote for candidates of the Libertarian Party. The problem is that simply being on the LP ticket is not a guarantee of a good candidate. In fact, if you’ve ever attended a large LP gathering, you’ll find the “big umbrella” concept has been extended to cover perennial bathers, Belleview outpatients, and those who think the Illuminati Overlords send messages through the TV. I frequently meet people who are members of all three groups. And by the way, they want to be your next senator.

Since not everyone has a decent LP candidate to vote for, where does that leave the rest? I’m talking about people who just can’t suppress the urge to vote. For them, I’ve come up with a solution: The “Go Vote Yourself!” movement.

I conceived this idea after a discussion with a libertarian friend. He thinks it would be a swell idea if the voting laws were amended to allow people to vote for “none of the above.” If this option won the majority of votes, his reasoning goes, then all the candidates would be rejected. We’d then start the election process all over until we got some decent candidates. In a perfect electoral utopia, this might go on indefinitely and we’d never get anyone elected. On the other hand, the mass adverse reaction to an unending stream of political ads might flood the ER’s with thrombosis patients.

I went home and did some careful calculations. I determined that the chance of election laws being changed to include “none of the above,” were slightly worse than the chance of Noam Chomsky performing oral recitations of his work on a USO tour. But days later, the idea hit me. There is nothing currently stopping us from writing in whatever candidate we want, right? And what better candidate could you find that reflects your policy views than yourself? Why not write yourself in?

In the past, election night commentators would mirthfully report that a few write-in votes were cast for Mickey Mouse, Pat Paulsen, or somebody’s pet hamster. How would they react if ten thousand candidates all got one vote? As it stands, all those who conscientiously abstain from voting get lumped in with those who don’t vote out of apathy. This is easy to do because an astonishingly small number of non-voters participate in exit polls. But if you Go Vote Yourself, your vote gets counted, yet serves to advance absolutely no candidate. To stretch my already highly elastic metaphor, it would be like everyone putting metal slugs in the slot machines all at once. It would gum up the whole works.

I’ve discussed this idea with quite a few people and their reaction is much the same: they start looking around for a paper sack to see if I’ve been huffing model airplane glue. But I am undeterred. I envision the Go Vote Yourself! movement as a grassroots effort with fundraisers, newsletters, and a website. But like all great men of ideas, I will leave these nuts and bolts details to others. It is enough for me to know that I put a giant metaphorical slug into the electoral slot machine.

Plus, I’m too busy watching TV. The Illuminati, I’m told by informed sources, will be sending an important message any day now and I want to be sure to catch it.

July 25, 2005