Imagine that you made a bet with someone. It doesn’t matter what the bet is over–it may be the outcome of a football game or the toss of the dice. But whichever game, and for whatever reason aside, you and a rival enter into a wager. The stakes are as follows: The loser’s house will be burned to the ground. Now, assuming that you take the bet, you are aware that you are entering a wager where someone’s house will be burned down. To such a bettor, the desired outcome is a house burning down. Of course, you will surely wish that it shan’t be your house, but you will wish that a house burn down. You’ll just wish it’s the house of your rival. Notice I have said nothing of intentions or motives. Morally speaking, it does not matter why you are taking the bet. Maybe you need the winnings for emergency surgery or to make your car payment. But the reason does not matter. No matter what the outcome, someone’s property will be destroyed for the benefit of a short-term gain by the winning party.
It is despicable to take a bet where you know that no matter what, someone’s house will be destroyed. What would be more despicable still would be to delude yourself into thinking that your rival will be better off, and/or that the destruction of his house is either secretly benefiting him or the charred rubble is just an illusion. Of course, if you were the loser you would not fall for this assurance; you would recognize the lie for what it is and you would want your house back. If this situation seems absurd, it is only because I have substituted the words “house” and “wager” for “liberty” and “vote.”
Did that seem hostile and absurd just for the sake of riling you up? Well, I like to have two purposes in my writing–riling up the reader is just the secondary one. If you carefully examine the above situation in the new context, you ought to find that it is accurate. When two rival voters enter their voting boxes, they want to impose their views and/or the views of their candidates onto each other. The loser suffers a reduction in liberty for the short-term gain of the winner. What is worse, each voter enters the booth knowing this. Each voter has as his goal the trampling of liberty; he just hopes it will be his opponent’s and not his own. But here is where the analogy breaks down. No bet-winner will assure the loser that the smoldering pile of ash that was once his house is to his benefit. But the voter, upon “winning” the election, will assure the loser that trampled liberties are to his own gain. This is the height of arrogance and self-aggrandizement. If I, the winner, voted for something, then it must mean that it is right and therefore the loser is blessed to have that something forced upon him. If I, the winner, want something, then that thing is good and the loser is blessed for being compelled to pay for it. Whether the winner is correct in saying that the “something” is good or not is irrelevant. For if that winner had lost the election, he would not be so well-assured that his loss was to his benefit, would he?
If you were to witness a house being swallowed by flames because of a bet, would you give much credence to the bitter and sorrowful complaints of the loser? I imagine you might say something like, “You entered this bet knowing that someone’s house would burn down and now you’re complaining because it was yours? You have no right to complain because you chose to legitimize this arrangement with your participation.” If a person who never agreed to any bet suffered the loss of his house, however, then his complaint would be valid, yes? What if two persons made a bet and the third person’s house was at stake? Then the third person would have every right to complain. Only a heartless beast would snidely retort, “If you didn’t want to lose your house then you should have taken the bet. If you had won then your house would have been spared. If you don’t bet then you have no right to complain.” What cruel and callous inhumanity would lead a person to say such a terrible thing? Well, you ought to know if you’ve ever told someone, “If you don’t vote then you have no right to complain.” Pardon me, but isn’t it the other way around? If you vote, knowing that someone’s liberty shall be violated, then isn’t it true that you surrender your right to complain the moment you cast your vote? You know that someone’s house shall burn down; you’re just hoping it won’t be yours.
And now I imagine the intentions will come along. You “need” to take the bet so you can pay the bills. You “need” to take the bet because if you don’t then someone else will. You “need” to vote because individuals are less adept at running their own lives than faceless bureaucrats a thousand miles away are. Yes, yes, of course. Intentions and excuses always nullify the immorality of an act, don’t they? Unless, of course, they’re the actions of your rivals. In that case, the actions are vile no matter what intentions the rivals may have. After all, what kind of monster would burn down someone’s house because “the ash will make great fertilizer and the rebuilding process will create jobs?” What a psycho!
So what if person A votes to curtail the liberties of B and C, person B votes to curtail the liberties of A and C, and person C chooses to not vote because he would rather that no one’s liberties be curtailed? I can tell you who’s the least-likely to win in that election. And that’s the real problem. If you choose to not take a bet, then the bettors cannot include you–they must bet only amongst themselves. But where voting is concerned, everyone must either be an aggressor or a victim. A sales representative at a car dealership may rest happily at night despite knowing that there are billions of persons who will never test drive one of his cars, but politicians and voters cannot tolerate the idea of someone trying to live outside their betting book. To live outside the circus freak show, to mind one’s own business and have no interest in petty rivalries with one’s fellow man: this is unthinkable! Even though C may be fine with the idea of bettors betting amongst themselves and leaving him alone, he will never have the same courtesy afforded him. He must be a spectator at the freak show whether he likes it or not.
Speaking of freak shows, the 2016 US election will come down to Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton. Most Americans who vote will be doing so for a variety of reasons: fear, spite, anger, and force of habit being among them. I am happy to say that I will not be voting. If someone’s house shall burn down, I will not be one of the bettors. I will not give credence and legitimacy to the freak show. I certainly will not endorse Donald “Burn down their houses” Trump, Hilary “Burn down their houses” Clinton, or even Gary “Burn down a smaller building than a house; maybe just a shed or car port” Johnson. If I were to vote for a politician, I would be endorsing their actions. Which is worse: a lion mauling zoo patrons, or someone unlocking the lion’s cage to let it out? I’m not worried about dictators. A dictator is only one person. It is voters who help dictators get into power and/or keep them there. If you endorse the actions of a politician for any reason, it is just as bad as committing the acts yourself–perhaps worse. I will not vote for any politician simply because I am not evil, and I do not wish to control the lives of my fellow human beings for any reason.
So when Hilary wins the election (and she will–mark my words), don’t blame me. Even if we operate on the faulty assumption that voting makes a difference, choosing between two politicians is akin to choosing between Beelzebub and Satan. But you must understand that when you vote, what you’re actually doing is choosing yourself. You’re not going to pick the politician whose platform drastically differs from yours, right? So you will vote for the politician who will force your beliefs (more or less) onto others. When Clinton becomes president she will force the beliefs of her voters onto hundreds of millions of persons who do not want them. If Trump or Johnson were somehow to become president, it would be the same situation. So when a voter casts a vote, they are really saying, “I want my opinions to be forced onto my fellow human beings against their will.” Or maybe they’re just saying, “Clinton/Trump is bad, but at least they’re not as bad as Trump/Clinton!” Either way, whoever wins, we’ll lose.
But can voting ever be permissible? It can be if the vote is done defensively. The noted anarchist writer Lysander Spooner wrote that voting is OK if done defensively, meaning to vote in opposition to any and all new laws or regulations. In Nevada, for example, there are several new proposals on the ballot for 2016. One proposal would require gun purchasers to first submit to an additional background check. I will vote against this proposal because it would violate the liberty of all Nevadans. Another proposal asks whether we ought to continue placing an additional tax on gasoline to fund new roads. I will be voting against this one as well, because I do not believe it right to force Nevadans (or anyone) to surrender their hard-earned money in order to fund roads they may never even use. Besides, the Nevada government could save a lot of money by auctioning off roads (at least the minor ones) to private individuals, organizations, or companies. No state-funded maintenance would be required on these roads ever again and the current budget would be more than adequate to build new freeways and maintain current ones. Of course, that would mean less control and less power in the hands of the Carson City mafia—this, as I explained before, is unthinkable. But as for me, I will not endorse any such enterprise that shall control other persons’ lives—no matter how good the intentions may be. I will vote only to oppose government, and when asked to vote for a person I will refuse. What course of action you take is up to you. You have your freedom, after all. Use it well.
This article, among others, is available in paperback or Kindle format from Amazon. If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting me by buying a copy for yourself or a friend.