Every Election is Rigged… Against You – Opting Out


Was this current US election rigged? Without a doubt. Though whether there is in fact any shady business going on, what with the odd-looking jumps in vote counts for Joe Biden and various discrepancies Republicans have been claiming, is almost irrelevant. Every election is rigged against you.

They are rigged in a very specific sense: The system that claims to be a representation of the will of the people is not anything of the kind. The entire electoral system, from the justification to the method to the outcome, does not represent “us” in any meaningful way. Democracy is merely a ruse to lend moral legitimacy to the ruling class.

Just this simple catchphrase, “we elect our representatives,” has huge problems. It doesn’t make sense to say that “we” elect them. You can make an argument that only those who voted for the candidate that won were responsible. But if Harry Browne votes for the losing candidate, how has he in fact elected the winner?

This is not mere snark that could have been put out by edgy 17-year-old 4chan frequenters. There’s a whole subset of economics dedicated to these kinds of conundrums called public choice theory. Bob Murphy published an article recently explaining the extremely strong case that Arrow’s impossibility theorem makes a mockery of the central moral claim of democracy that it reflects the will of the people.

Harry as an individual can have an ordinal list of preferences for things in his life, like the brand of milk he buys or which movies he wants to stream, and you can formulate that pretty easily in your mind. He prefers Blade Runner over Bride Wars, but Bride Wars over Rise of Skywalker, and so on. A baby can understand that, and economics can’t work without this being true.

It turns out it’s probably impossible to create a rational ordinal preference rank for more than two people. Every possible outcome violates basic rules as to what we would consider “preference” or “rank.” For example, no individual could reasonably say that she prefers vodka to beer, and prefers beer to wine, but prefers wine to vodka. Yet “we’re” doing this all the time with our apparent stated preferences written on our ballots.

When you aggregate the ballots, the results don’t indicate a rank order preference for candidates. It can tell you that Biden won, and Trump came second, even though the majority of voters would probably prefer Jo Jorgenson over Trump. Republicans and/or Democrats can berate the Libertarian voters all they want for “letting the other guy win,” but in reality, even if we were permitted to write second and third choices on the ballots, we’d still be none the wiser as to “our” real preference.

At this point we’ve come around to a view that maybe some of us have elected our representatives. That is, assuming that the person elected perfectly represents at least most of their preferences, which is close to impossible.

Still worse, for Harry, the winner does not represent him. He wanted nothing to do with the winner. The winner was the last person he ever wanted to represent him. Now we’re at: “Some people vote for a person to represent them who also rules over others who he does not represent.” This catchphrase is getting less and less catchy by the minute.

We’re getting right to the core of the issue: the inevitability of the ruling class. That there’s always someone who rules, and everyone else who has to put up with them. 2016 Democratic voters had a point when they were tweeting “Not My President.” Trump sickens those people to their core.

The President is meant to be a representative, but to a large degree he does not represent them.

The riposte without fail goes like this: “Well, if you don’t like it, you can leave.” This is somehow seen to be persuasive, but I think it reveals the whole sham.

Firstly, how this is meant to be a defense of democracy, when compared to other systems of government, is anyone’s guess. If the only stipulation with communist or fascist dictatorships was that people could leave the country whenever they wanted, this would be an equally valid argument. The issue here is whether democracy is truly a representation of the people’s will.

The unquestioned assumption is the moral legitimacy of political authority. Sure, Harry might be able to leave, but why should he? Why is it that one group of people apparently have the right to lord it over everyone else? Even if democracy worked as perfectly as it should, it would still not be representative of all of the people. Someone is being aggressed upon.

If you believe that the only legitimate authority derives from the will of the governed, and it turns out that democratic outcomes are not the will of the people, then the President’s authority is illegitimate, per se.

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James Smith

Writer and film-maker from the United Kingdom. Digital nomad. Author of 'The Shy Guy's Guide to Travelling'.


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