Posts Tagged ‘Voting’
Posted on March 10, 2014 at 11.41 pm
Thanks to Rare for publishing my latest:
As the liberty movement matures and continues to have real influence, libertarians need a new way to make voting decisions. Most elections won’t feature the black and white choice of a Ron Paul v. Mitt Romney match; and as new candidates with varying credentials come on the scene, simple purity tests become increasingly unhelpful.
So what should we do instead? I propose we borrow an idea from theology.
If you know anything about church history, you know that Christians have literally spent thousands of years arguing. It’s against that backdrop that we’ve come to so value an old saying which you may recognize: “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity.”
To visualize this advice, some theologians draw concentric circles of theology: In the center is dogma; in the middle ring, doctrines; in the outer ring, matters of opinion. So, for example, that Jesus is God is dogma—in other words, it’s a vital part of the Christian faith. That goes in the center.
A doctrinal issue would be something like free will v. predestination: It’s really important, but it’s not vital to the faith. Both Baptists (free will) and Presbyterians (predestination) are Christians. And in the outer circle of opinion are questions which can happily coexist in one church, like whether there are animals in heaven.
So how does this apply to politics?
Libertarians need a similar model to help decide which candidates they can support and which they can’t. Without these distinctions, it’s all too easy to reject a candidate who is wrong about an opinion-level issue even though he’s awesome on all “dogma” issues. Or libertarians might support a candidate who got a 90% on simple purity tests—but the 10% he got wrong was a “dogma” vital to liberty.
Posted on August 22, 2012 at 3.17 pm
Q. Your voting philosophy appears to be, if there aren’t any toys I like then I’m not going to play. What if most people followed your advice. Is it a democracy if only a minority of people participate? Do the thousands of people (women, minorities, non-landholding whites) who died, suffered, or were for hundreds of years discriminated against as they fought for the opportunity to have an equal political voice in this country give you any motivation to not tell people, ‘it’s okay not to vote’? — codegakiwi, from tumblr.
A. 1. The presidential election is not the only election in the country. I have voted multiple times for state and local elections.
2. It’s already not a democracy; and it never has been. It’s a federal republic with a number of both democratic elements and features intended to prevent the tyranny of simple majority rule.
3. Already only a minority of people participate — usually just over 50% of eligible voters (which does not include all citizens) during presidential elections, and around 1/3 of eligible voters in off years.
4. It is ok not to vote, and it has nothing to do with the difficulty with which the right was won. Many of the rights and liberties we now enjoy have historically been hard-won at some point or another; that doesn’t mean we should use them in terrible ways. If anything, it means we should exercise our right to vote more wisely and thoughtfully — which may sometimes mean choosing not to vote. I 100% support universal suffrage; what I don’t support is universal obligation to cast a vote in a corrupt system which offers no real choice. Because, you see…
5. …not voting is, ultimately, also casting a vote. It’s a vote which says, “These options suck, and I’m not going to give you my support until you can come up with an option which deserves it.” Some countries (and even places in the U.S.) have a “None of the Above” option on the ballot. We don’t get that choice when voting for president. If we did, I’d go to the ballot box and check it off. Absent that opportunity, not voting is as close as I can get. Indeed, “Since we aren’t being offered any really meaningful choice, let’s not lend credence to the pretense that we are.”
Posted on April 9, 2012 at 8.45 pm
Q. I’ve been having some issues lately. In the coming election, it is becoming more and more obvious that Ron Paul will likely not receive the Republican nomination for the presidency, and this has led me to be indecisive. I am not a fan of Mitt Romney, or of Rick Santorum, but I’m not a fan of Barack Obama either. I tend to side more with the Democratic sides of issues, with the exception of the things that I dislike in both parties. I’d like to vote, obviously, but I don’t know what to think. ??? — shakeandjake2010, from tumblr.
A. Well, that’s a question for you to weigh thoughtfully, but ultimately not to lose sleep over.
Sleep is really important.
Here are some questions I suggest asking yourself:
- Do you think your vote matters?
- If so, does it matter to you, or does it matter to the election?
- If not, why?
- Are some issues more important to you than others?
- Do you trust Barack Obama to do what the campaign rhetoric you like says he will do?
- How much evil are you willing to accept because it’s less evil than the alternative?
- Regardless of your answer to that first question, are you committed to voting?
- Does a write-in vote “count”?
- Does a third party vote “count”?
- Which is more important: Voting, or voting on principle?
- Which is more important: Voting, or not voting on principle?
- More bluntly, which is more important: Voting or principle, plain and simple? If they conflict — and from what you’re saying, they will for you — do you want the “I voted” sticker, or do you want to stick to your guns?
Personally, I will do what I did in 2008: Voted for Ron Paul in the primaries; researched the candidates for lower offices in the general; voted for the local, state, and congressional candidates worth supporting based on that research; and in the cases (like the presidential race) where there is no one I could vote for in good conscience, left it blank.
So that’s me. What you do will probably depend on how you answer a bunch of those questions above.