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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Robert Shea on not voting

Want to do something agin the government but too old to refuse to register and unable to resist paying taxes? Refusing to vote is a form of nonviolent resistance to government. That it disturbs governments is underlined by the fact that it's a crime in Australia, punishable by a $5 fine. In totalitarian countries, where over 90 percent of the population is routinely dragooned into voting, not voting is even more of an act of resistance. The use of voting by dictators to legitimize their rule may have been started by Napoleon I, who in 1804 had himself elected hereditary emperor of France by 98 percent of those eligible.
                                                     -- Robert Shea (from No Governor #5)

Robert Anton Wilson also often refused to vote.

I've noticed considerable discussion on the Internet about the ethics of voting and nonvoting.

Supergee obviously thinks it's important to vote to support the Democrats and keep the Republicans out of power. He's still angry at Ralph Nader for helping Dubya beat Gore in 2000. I think most people would agree that Bush turned out to be a pretty lousy president, and that the election suggests that it does make a difference who wins.

Anarchist Charles Davis spends a lot of time arguing that there's little difference between the two major parties. He recently tweeted (as @charlesdavis84) "If I were to vote this year, it'd be entirely out of spite and for Ralph Nader."

Davis recently put up a blog post arguing that it makes little difference who wins this fall. Excerpt: "No matter who registered voters in the U.S. select to be the ruling class' spokesman for a four-year term, the coming presidential election will make very little difference to the lives of most Americans -- and non-Americans. Banks will continue to get bailed out, both overtly and by way of the tax code and other more covert means. Bombs will continue to be dropped on poor foreigners, be it in the name of humanitarianism or the fight against terrorism. The state will still serve the interests of the rich, and so on and so on."

And I think there's something in what Davis writes. Democrats in general and Obama in particular have been a big disappointment on peace and civil liberties. I voted for many Democrats in the last couple of elections and got little for my vote.

I've found it hard to give up voting. Usually there's someone to vote for or (more often) someone to vote against. If Gary Johnson gets the Libertarian nomination, I'll likely feel obligated to cast a protest vote for him.


Manic The Doodler said...

Like you, I've tried to give up voting, but can't seem to stay away from the polls (I guess in that respect I have been programed completely). I do think it's important to vote for certain local issues (tax levys that support certain local services) but on a national scale, I'm pretty cynical about how much good my vote really does, yet I can't help but think that things may be much worse had McCain/Palin won in 2008...

Bobby Campbell said...

I like voting! I vote every chance I get. Why not? I never got the argument against it.

Mr. Shea's argument doesn't ring very true to me. It doesn't seem to disturb the US government at all that people don't vote, in fact isn't there a long history of systematically preventing oppressed demographics from having the privilege at all? Even recently there's been instances of trying to discourage poor people from voting with confusion about registration fees.

I agree w/ Davis that for the most part it doesn't make much of a difference who the President is, but the character of the figure head really does matter enough to stop for 15 minutes and hit a button once every 4 years. Even if it's only to decide which flavor of bullshit you prefer.

For my own part I prefer the flavor of bullshit that at least has to pretend to care about the things I care about, because in that pretending there consequentially results a certain amount of reality.

OBAMA 2012
'At least he doesn't go on TV and talk about hating the gays and whores and arabs!'

I met RAW just before the 2004 election, and he expressed his desire for John Kerry to win on account of his support of stem cell research.

Though we can only intend the light, we can at least do that much!