Expressive Non-Voting And The Freedom Of Conscience

President Obama endorses mandatory voting:

“Other countries have mandatory voting,” Obama said Wednesday in Cleveland, where he spoke about the importance of middle class economics, and was asked about the issue during a town hall.

“It would be transformative if everybody voted — that would counteract money more than anything,” he said, adding it was the first time he had shared the idea publicly.

The idea that government invasion into every nook and cranny of American society lights the fuse for more lobbying and outside spending, sadly, doesn’t appear on the president’s radar.

President Obama seems to automatically assume anyone who abstains from voting is doing so because “some folks try to keep [non-voters] away from the polls.” I’m not conceited enough to speak on behalf of all non-voters, nor do I assume “some folks” have nothing but the best of intentions with their various voter ID proposals. But for this non-voter, I can assure you nobody tries to keep me away from the polls. As I’ve posted, I get inundated with mailers trying to SHAME ME to the polls.

On top of all the reasons I’ve posted in the past, another reason for my non-voting is self-expression. That idea turns the conventional narrative on its head because one of the justifications vote-shamers provide for your “duty” to vote is its expressive component: there’s no better way to stand up for what you believe in than to vote.

For a libertarian like me, that makes no sense.

Every day of the year, I have to follow the laws, no matter how ineffective, counter-productive, and/or immoral they are. By force of law, I have to supply the funds to enforce the laws I find ineffective, counter-productive, and/or immoral. By force of law, I have to pay for programs I find wasteful, the enforcement of regulations and a tax code that harms Americans financially, wars that kill innocents, a justice system purposefully stacked against civilians, and the salaries and benefits of politicians and bureaucrats who leech off the hard work of others.

Election Day is the one day of the year where I can register a ‘no’ to the ineffective, counter-productive and immoral laws. This is the one day of the year I can register a ‘no’ to the wasteful programs, the harmful regulations, the pernicious tax code, the disgraceful wars, the punitive nature of the justice system, and the privileges of the political class. Am I really saying ‘no’ if I do what the political class and vote-shamers endlessly harp on? If I vote, these folks get what they’re looking for: sanction for what they’ve created and enabled. A vote, no matter what party I vote for, says ‘yes’ to everything stated above. That’s not “transformative.”

Non-voting is my way to say ‘no.’ It’s not a particularly effective ‘no.’ The laws I oppose will still be enforced. The programs will still waste money. The regulations and taxes will continue to harm the economy. Wars will continue to produce collateral damage. The justice system will still railroad countless innocent victims. The political class will still receive the perks and privileges of their “respected” positions.

But the alternative is even less effective. Voting establishes legitimacy. Voting pays homage to the political class and provides it a seal of approval to continue their dreadful policies.

I choose to express my discontent with what the political class has created by saying ‘no.’ On Election Day, I follow my conscience, and don’t vote.


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