Once or twice already in the young life of this blog, the subject of voting has come up, and particularly of whether or not one should or should not vote. Usually the supposed virtue or vice in voting revolves around the candidates involved in the election. For awhile, even I was basing my decision not to vote in the presidential election on the absence of any candidate which I considered to be adequately suitable.
Upon further reflection, however, it would seem that such an approach is, at best, peripheral. A far more well-grounded tactic would come from evaluating the system in which elected politicians work, i.e., the State. More to the point, how does the State accomplish its objectives? The short answer is by theft and coercion. The truth must not be lost that these criminal activities are intrinsic to the State, for without them, the State would have no resources with which to work.
When a private citizen takes something that does not belong to him, or when he commits an act of aggression against another person, he is rightly considered to be a criminal. What, then, validates the modus operandi of the State? The government takes your money and appropriates it as it chooses; it sometimes takes your sons and forces them into battle; it confiscates private land and allots it to its own purposes (so much for the Constitution protecting freedom!); and it even kills people when the plutocracy deems it “necessary.”
Again, what justifies any of this? What is more troubling: Why aren’t more people questioning the morality of the existence of the State? It would seem that many just assume that the State is necessary. Others—the short-term optimists, long-term pessimists known as conservatives—might well regard the State as an inevitability.
Many, however, refer to the essential services that the State provides and offer this as proof of the necessity of the State. This is rubbish. Every essential service which the State provides has, in the past, been supplied by private contractors. Read that sentence again. It’s true. (See Murray Rothbard, _Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature_, p. 143) The State has not always provided roads; it has not always provided water; it has not always provided education; it has not even been the sole arbiter of justice, and as for the military, it is designed to protect the interests of the State, not the interests of the citizens. (It is too easily forgotten, thanks to the fallacious idea that elected governments are merely an extension of the citizenry, that the State indeed is an entity unto itself, and that it has its own interests to guard, most particularly the perpetuation of its existence and health.) So much for the necessity of the State by virtue of the “services” it (poorly) provides.
What, then, is left to argue for the existence of the State? Do we need a rousing national anthem and a pretty flag to make us feel all fuzzy inside before every baseball game? I could do without it, for sure. The only avenue left to enthusiasts of the State is to argue from the point of view of Divine Right, that somehow God has ordained that we should be subject to overlords who need not heed the Ten Commandments. That doesn’t seem likely. (Even that question St. Peter asked about taxes was framed in context, part of which was that the coin was taken out of a fish’s mouth. Those who know more about such things —I believe it was, again, Rothbard—have written that this is a tool of irony. In any case, this leaves aside the theocratic implications of establishing a State upon Holy Writ.)
Now that we have established that the State has no moral right to exist, let us turn to the subject of voting. When a politician is elected, he is given the resources to wield the power of the State, making use of the aforementioned immoralities of theft and coercion. This is enough to argue against voting, but perhaps even in light of this we might be tempted to say, “Well, we may as well vote for someone who will do less of this than others might.” This ignores one crucial point: Our government builds its legitimacy on the democratic process. A higher voter turnout forfeits to the State more agility in spewing the propaganda that our government has received a mandate to take action.
In short, voting for anyone is a vote for the continuance of the State, and, as the State is a highly immoral institution, it is immoral to vote. Now, I will not say to those who disagree with me that they themselves are immoral. Such judgments should never be made in the absence of a moral certainty. Nevertheless, I stand firm in my convictions, and, as I am already enough of a jackass, I don’t see why I should make myself even more of one by lending support to any of the clowns which appear on this year’s ballot, or to the intrinsic evil called the State.