The Libertarian Case For Voting

proportional representation

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

You are a political hostage.

BallotBox_2211844bRegardless of whether you cast a vote for a politician making empty promises, a liberal promoting equality, or a conservative promoting national strength, the results of the vote will apply to you. You will pay taxes, and you will be held accountable for breaking laws. Abstaining from the vote does not remove you from the political system.

The government is a naturally inefficient entity. The reason for this inefficiency is very simple: without the price discovery mechanism (the process by which competitors in a market find an equilibrium price), producers of goods and services, which have been promised funding regardless of quality or quantity of output, cannot find an optimal price. They will have to demand more funds for every venture and have no incentive to avoid misusing those funds. Government is an ongoing concern wherein a room full of people hold sessions to decide which inefficient systems will receive your dollars after they are taken from you through taxes.

But I digress.

The “lesser of two evils” argument is an example of rationalization. When an outcome is expected to be worse than another, the least consequential option is chosen, even when both options are expected to make the current situation worse. In the interest of self-preservation, people generally vote for whoever they expect will not be as bad as the alternative. And realizing how terrible this system is, a demand for alternatives has arisen.

This election, there are electable options that are not only better than the two mainstream options, but also better than the current situation. There are libertarian candidates who realize how inefficient the government is and are dedicated to decreasing or stopping the theft that is taxation, and ending the enforcement of laws that don’t defend the rights of the individual. Though many candidates may indicate untruthfully that they represent an option to diminish the influence of the state, and that they fully support individual rights, pretenders are easy to spot. Disclosing which statesman are liars is easy in the information age.

Casting any level of support for a system that will guarantee the oppression of yourself and others is not acceptable. There is no excuse for voting when the only available options are “Evil” and “Less Evil.” Such an action is a personal endorsement of evil. The result of such an election is not your fault. But when there is an option to decrease the power of the state and increase individual freedom with only the effort of voting, how could you even consider staying at home?

Some have taken to abandoning reason, and consciously deciding that they would rather be oppressed by the winner of an election they played no role in rather than self-destruct the system by voting for candidates who will decrease the influence of the political system altogether. They feel that because the actions of the democratically elected ruler is not on their own hands, they should do nothing to end the system. And it is for that exact reason that the political system shows no signs of decreasing in influence. Nearly half of the American population abstains from voting; if not for voter apathy, it would be simple to elect a single candidate dedicated to ending taxation, repealing laws, and decreasing the influence of the state.

With repetition, voting against the system would lead to the personal and economic freedom of all individuals. The state would become nothing, one step at a time. Poverty would be replaced by prosperity, and the government would become the least of any person’s problems. But, there are misconceptions to refute before any population could be expected to take this option seriously.

First, the presence of 2 mainstream parties does not necessitate that other options are invalid. There are options that will decrease the influence of government, namely the vast majority of Libertarian candidates, and occasionally an independent candidate.

Second, abstaining from voting will not help you, or anyone around you. Even if only 5% of Americans voted, it’s a sure bet that the government would still exist with just as much power as it had before, if not more.

You are a hostage in a bad political situation, but there is a way out by voting against the system. It should be noted that what the state chooses to enforce is not the fault of non-voters who chose not to remove the powers-that-be from their thrones. The government is accountable for its own actions. But choosing to allow such a government to continue existing is not only the choice of the voters who voted it into power, but also of the non-voters who chose to allow it. Regardless of the outcome, there is a Libertarian Party, and it’s the largest and most viable step in the direction of decreasing the rampant influence of the state that currently exists.

It’s worth a shot.

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Nathaniel Owen is the Chairman and co-founder of Being Libertarian. He is a writer, musician, homeschooling advocate, and libertarian, and typically addresses issues from an economic point of view. Nathaniel is a member of the Goldwater Institute, a Friend of the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, and has been a member of the Libertarian Party since 2012.


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