90 Million Americans Canít Be Wrong
by Joel Poindexter: The
Real War Heroes
Those who vote
in presidential elections often describe the action as being part
of their civic duty; itís something every good citizen must do.
Others consider voting to be a right, and elections are something
which every American should participate in. After all, they remind
us, not everyone has this right in other countries. Still, there
are others who see voting as both a duty and a right, as if it could
be both at the same time.
So when voter
turnout was abysmally poor during last weekís primaries in Kansas
and Missouri, many were upset. Talk radio hosts, Internet pundits,
and members of the media all commented on the low participation
rate, and quite a few were disturbed by the numbers. Kansas City,
Missouri for instance, had a voter turnout of only 15%. Now, itís
generally understood that primaries and midterms have lower voter
participation rates than presidential election years, so this ought
not to surprise anyone, but there is some hope this yearís elections
will have the lowest turnout of the last fifty.
by USA Today and Suffolk University
why they're not planning to vote this November, respondents answered
that: "They're too busy. They aren't excited about either candidate.
Their vote doesn't really matter. And nothing ever gets done, anyway."
All are excellent reasons, especially the last two, for they lay
bare the great lie that elections solve anything. The results of
the poll indicate that some 90 million Americans have no intention
to vote in this year's presidential election; letís hope that number
swells over the coming months.
who is director of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate,
had this to say regarding why so few are expected to vote:
lot of lack of trust in our leaders, a lack of positive feelings
about political institutions, a lack of quality education for
large segments of the public, a lack of civic education, the fragmenting
effects of waves of communications technology, the cynicism of
the coverage of politics Ė I could go on with a long litany.
As far as a
lack of civic education, this may be true, but it's not for a lack
of trying on the part of the government school systems. In every
election cycle students in government schools vote on the national
candidates; being homeschooled I never participated in such conditioning,
but I distinctly remember my second-grade friends voting in the
1992 election for Bill Clinton. Students even hold their own elections,
to choose from within their own ranks politicians whoíre supposed
to advocate for them with the administration, in order to get longer
recess, treats in the cafeteria, and who knows what else. It's one
of the more disturbing attempts to indoctrinate children in the
civic religion of democracy. But it's not always successful.
One of those
polled, Jamie Palmer, 35, has never voted, and good for her; if
only I had could have such a clear conscience. When asked why she
hadnít, her reply was "[politicians] say the same things; they make
promises; they don't keep them. It's ridiculous. If I vote, nothing
is going to come of it. It's just going to be like it is right now."
Fortunately, she was never fooled by the teachers shilling for the
state at her school.
the issue of politics most people will argue that if you donít vote
itís because youíre lazy, unpatriotic, or part of the problem with
society. These are people who were taught what to think, not how
As for the
lazy charge, it may be true in many cases, but certainly not all
of them. The USA Today poll indicated that at least some people
didnít want to take the time to follow politics or go to the polls,
so not voting was less a deliberate choice as opposed to simply
being a low priority. But for the vast majority of non-voters that
I know, itís a conscious choice theyíve made based on sound principles.
They have clear and well thought out arguments against voting, but
in no way could they be considered lazy. They are instead wrapped
up in educating others, they are journalists, organizers, activists,
and dedicated to fostering parallel institutions to compete with
and hopefully replace those of the corporatist/statist system now
It is indeed
true that many who vote are patriots, but sadly their priorities
are skewed. They conflate the government with society, believing
the two are synonymous, and that to insult one is an equal affront
to the other. In some ways they are correct, but only because government
has fully usurped the authority of civil society and dictates virtually
every human action. But this is not how things ought to be, for
the state has no legitimate function in a free society. Voting only
entrenches this concept, further legitimizing government as benevolent
caretaker, or arbiter of justice; nothing could be more wrongheaded.
come to realize what an immoral institution government is, the idea
that those who donít support it by voting are part of the problem
seems ever more ridiculous. Americans are taught to believe that
they "are the government." This no doubt comes from Abraham
Lincolnís declaration that we have a "government of the people,
by the people, and for the people." Given this misunderstanding
of the state, coupled with the reality that no sector of our lives
is free from its meddling, the logical conclusion is that voters,
i.e. "government," are the problem. After all, they voted
for all of this. So if theyíre unhappy with how the economy is being
ran, how the environment is being neglected, or justice administered,
itís really their own fault, and non-voters should be found blameless.
Of course "we"
arenít the government. Strictly speaking, the bureaucracy is the
real government, for it is the vast apparatus which carries out
the daily operations of Leviathan, not some rent-seeking no-name
congressman sitting in an office in D.C. But as mentioned above,
electing that no-name congressman lends some credibility to the
state. Without the blessing of the populace, the government would
have no claim of consent, and lose any semblance of legitimate authority.
This alone would not free us from sociopaths in capitols all around
the world, but it would be a reflection of the attitude that the
state is irrelevant.
By and large
people vote because they (wrongly) believe that government is a
necessary feature of society. They are unable to envision a land
that doesnít rely on a government body to provide a court system
or roads, so their only option, as far as they can see, is to vote.
But a population that rejects the state will also reject the idea
that voting is a duty, or a right, or, incredibly, both simultaneously.
everyone surveyed is an anarchist who has chosen to opt out of the
state, but the study revealed some encouraging data. For instance,
one thing gleaned from the story is that barely half of those polled
disagree that "there's not a dime's worth of difference between
Democrats and Republicans." Exactly how many agree that no real
difference exists is not clear, but knowing that so few see a difference
is a positive sign for liberty.
good tidbits: 40% of respondents said they won't vote "because my
vote doesn't make any difference anyway." Sixty percent of those
polled only have high school diplomas, an indicator that less time
in the Academic-Indoctrination-Industrial-Complex may translate
to a diminished interest in voting. Another sixty percent said they
pay no attention because "nothing ever gets done." This is true
to one extent, usually nothing good gets done, with a few
Poindexter [send him
mail] is a student at Johnson County Community College working
toward a degree in economics. He lives near Kansas City with his
wife and daughter. See his
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