All Commentary
Friday, June 3, 2016

You Still Have the Freedom Not To Vote

Exercise it on Behalf of Those Who Do Not

Recently we ruminated online about the ongoing electoral circus in the United States. Barring any unforeseen turn of events, it will be a showdown between Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton (D) and Donald John Trump (R).

Hill Rod vs. Don John.

The event, we concluded, is a giant farce…albeit a highly entertaining one. The situation is hopeless, as a dear friend likes to say, but not at all serious.

Democracy was born in Ancient Greece… not long before their greatest philosopher, Socrates, was sentenced to death… by majority vote.

As expected, some readers took umbrage with our modest suggestion that the system was probably rigged…and that voting might not change anything anyway.

Of course, that last statement shouldn’t be at all controversial. Math whizzes have crunched the numbers. Statistically speaking, one man’s vote is meaningless.

That the act of voting itself might bring him comfort or inspire feelings of solidarity with his fellow man is another thing entirely. One can draw comfort from an honest day’s work…solidarity from a community group…a book club…a knitting circle.

No need to muddy one’s hands with the grubby world of politics.

Democracy’s Dismal Record

Democracy was born in Ancient Greece… not long before their greatest philosopher, Socrates, was sentenced to death… by majority vote.

As for the widely held proposition that the democratic process improves the lot of the average man, just look at the evidence!

The current president ran on a platform of “hope and change.” He was supposed to stand up against “the system,” to look out for the “man on the street,” to fight for the common worker, the down and outer, to champion those left behind.

Well, then? After eight years in office, and the largest ever transfer of wealth from Main Street (mostly from retirees and those dependent on fixed income investments) to Wall Street, what are we to make of the promised “change?”

What kind of popularity contest is this?

Have the drone wars come to an end? Has the Federal Reserve been audited…or shuttered? Has the government stopped snooping through your personal data, tracking your emails, bugging your telephone calls?

No, no, and…no.

Rather, these nefarious practices—and many others besides—have only increased under the administration of the current, elected government.

Popular Mandate?

Besides all that, if democracy was all it’s cracked up to be, surely those who advocate for it would have more to show for their efforts than the two most hated candidates in history.

According to the polls, more than one in three voters say they “strongly disagree” with Mrs. Clinton. That figure would be enough to make her the most disliked candidate in history…were it not for the presumptive, Republican-Party nominee opposing her.

More than half (53%) of voters say they “strongly disagree” with Mr. Trump.

Hey! Wait a minute…

What kind of popularity contest is this? One in which between a third and a half of the population are guaranteed to harbor “strong” negative feelings against the winner?

It’s even possible, given current polling data, that a majority of the population could end up living under an unelected (by them) candidate.

Is that what they call “power to the people?” Or a government “of the people, by the people and for the people?”


In Argentina, back in the 2003 election, Néstor Kirchner won the presidency with a mere 22.2% of the first round vote. His main rival, Carlos Menem, managed to secure only 24.4%. He, at least, had the decency to drop out of the race.

When Néstor assumed office in May of that year, four in five people found themselves living with a president they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for… but whose edicts they now had to obey regardless.

The situation in the U.S. is not quite there yet. But it’s headed in that direction. Give it time…

Not that “majority-unelected” leaders are anything new.

It’s validation of the system by decree.

In Australia, two of the last three prime ministers came to power via quasi coups d’état (that is, they took over their parties from within, by internal ballots, after the elected leader began polling badly with the general electorate).

And now, voters there are being “summoned” to the ballots again…possibly to elect someone else who will be dethroned by a member of their own party.

Malcolm Turnbull, who “won” the top job by knifing his predecessor, Brutus style, is calling for a general election in early July.

Compulsory Consent

Australia, like Argentina, enforces mandatory voting. Citizens who choose not to show up on the day are liable to pay a fine… and possible face a day in court.

Only 12 other states in the world enforce this kind of nonsense. Among these beacons of civil liberties: The Indian state of Gujarat, the tiny island nation of Nauru and, of course, North Korea.

In other words, citizens of these states are not even allowed to choose whether or not they wish to participate in the process. It’s validation of the system by decree.

Think about that for a second…

Imagine you were forced to buy a new car every two years. And there were only two viable manufacturers.

Now, maybe you don’t want a car. Maybe you prefer to walk. Maybe you ride a bicycle. Maybe you prefer to take the bus. Or maybe you just have something better to do that particular day… like minding your own business.

What signal would your purchase send to the auto-manufacturing sector?

Build more cars! Exactly the opposite of what you want!

Talk about manufactured consent!

In a voluntary market, when people don’t show up to buy things, providers of those goods and services either get the hint (i.e. they make better stuff at more competitive prices)… or they go out of business. Then, that capital is unlocked to satisfy natural market demands for things people actually want.

Not so in a “compulsory market.”

Even DonJohn and HillRod could run in Australia and, no matter how much the population despised them, they could still expect close to a 100% voter turnout. (In the last federal election Down Under, 94% of registered voters went to the polls.)

Talk about manufactured consent!

At least in the U.S. voters have the freedom to do something meaningful on election day. Like trim the hedges… clean out the garage… or take their mother-in-laws out for lunch.

Reprinted from Truth & Plenty.

  • Joel Bowman is the Founder of Walden Publishing and Editor-in-Chief of Truth & Plenty, its thrice weekly newsletter dedicated to helping readers live freer, more independent lives.