If You Vote
by Melanie M. Johnson
my Facebook friends have given a "like" to Mitt Romney,
including a few former Ron Paul supporters whom I got to know during
our historic "takeover" of the Minnesota GOP conventions
earlier this year. To conservatives who donít think much of Romney
(which, according to polls, seems to be a lot of them), Iíd like
to say "please reconsider." And to ex-Ron Paul people
who are supporting him out of "anybody but Obama" desperation,
Iíd like to say, "You should know better!"
wisdom on voting is that you should always vote because it is your
"patriotic duty," and that your vote should be for one
of the two major political parties, otherwise youíre "throwing
your vote away." I disagree. I think people should vote their
values, which might mean voting for an "unelectable" third
party candidate, or perhaps not voting at all.
I had a political
science teacher in college who taught this, and it has stayed with
me. He said that if people donít know the issues, they are better
off not voting than risking a vote for the wrong candidate. I agree
wholeheartedly, and Iíll even take it a step further: when the choice
is between two piles of excrement, one only slightly less foul smelling
than the other, we do not have to pick one of them out of
some misguided sense of patriotic obligation. If the best the major
parties have to offer fall short of the principles you believe in,
then it is your patriotic duty to not vote for either one of them.
I know that
ousting Obama might seem like the most urgent goal, and that conservatives
of all colors, shapes, and sizes ought now unite in this common
purpose. But letís think this through, because there are a number
of reasons why it might be a bad strategy.
First of all,
a vote for Romney does not ensure his victory. Incomprehensible
as it may be, Obama is popular enough, and persuasive enough, and
politically cunning enough to get re-elected. The cardboard cutout
Republican Mr. Mitt is unlikely to inspire the swing voters in the
swing states, which is what he needs to do to win. He has neither
the charisma nor the policies to do so. People just donít relate
to him, and no amount of GOP marketing is going to fix that in any
significant way. In fact, Romney just may be the GOPís John Kerry,
who ran that pointless campaign against Dubya in 2004, despite immense
DFL effort to get the vote out.
But more to
the point are the ideological issues involved. If we care about
these ideological issues, if we have strong beliefs about whatís
best for this country and how best to achieve it, then we must ask
ourselves this: does the "anybody but Obama" stance support
and further our cause--the cause of liberty? How far will it take
us toward the goals of restoring personal freedom and having sane
fiscal policies, respectful foreign policies, and limited, non-corrupt
representation of the people, by the people, and for the people?
All the evidence
points to "not very far." You need only look at the records
of the last several presidents to see this. Under every administration
since (at least) Woodrow Wilson, economic and personal freedoms
have suffered. Government has ballooned to an almost unfathomable
size, with no slowdown in sight. Taxes have increased and tax codes
have grown more complex and convoluted. Unnecessary wars have been
waged, needlessly burdening taxpayers and ending far too many lives
at far too young an age. The Federal Reserve gains ever more control
over the economy, printing money, setting interest rates, and creating
artificial "bubbles" that ultimately end in disaster and
each time inch us that much closer to economic apocalypse. The Fed
and the Treasury operate hand-in-hand with Wall Street and corporate
interests that benefit the powers-that-be at the expense of the
middle-class taxpayer. And liberty continues to be trounced on,
so much so that outrageous assaults on freedom like the Patriot
Act are barely recognized anymore as the fascist, freedom-squelching
policies that they are.
And the tragic
truth is that both mainstream political parties support these big
government policies. Despite all the posturing, mud-slinging, accusations,
and general bipartisan nastiness we see in elections, both mainstream
candidates are just different sides of the same, corporate-backed,
PAC-financed coin. Sure, Romney will institute some different policies;
he may lower a tax or two; and he may even abolish such atrocities
as Obamacare. But this is vastly different than him having an actual
ideology of personal freedom and limited government, which
he absolutely does not. Government will not shrink under his watch.
Liberty will not be restored. He may end Obamaís wars, but he is
likely to start others--and by his own admission, without Congressional
consent. He mayómayórestore some freedoms taken by Obama,
but he will strip others.
Without a foundational
ideology of liberty to guide him, it can be no other way.
In order for
there to be real change in the federal government, we would have
to drastically re-evaluate taxation and, ideally, abolish the IRS
and the Federal Reserve. We would have to stop thinking that it
is the governmentís job to regulate the economy. We would have to
stop thinking that it is the job of the United States to police
the world, and withdraw our bullies--oops, I mean troops--from countries
that donít want them there. We would have to stop accepting that
the leviathan devilís stranglehold on our personal lives and choices
is "business as usual" and "for our own good."
In short, for there to be a real change in the federal government,
there would have to be a sea change of attitude in how people view
the role of government.
changes wouldnít have to come all at once. But for them to come
at all, we have to have leaders who believe in such change, leaders
governed by ideological principles about limited government
and non-intervention and an unfettered economy. Barack Obama is
certainly not one of those leaders, but neither is Mitt Romney.
In fact, they both support different visions of a leviathan government,
and are thus ideologically opposed to basic principles of liberty.
For this reason, I cannot, and will not, in good conscience
vote for either one of them.
that leave me and people like me who care about our countryís future?
What do we do? Well, hereís a great Hans-Hermann Hoppe quote I found
in the article How
Can You Think Voting Matters? by Will Aston:
the Impossibility of Limited GovernmentÖ, Hoppe says:
ÖIt is necessary
to recognize that the ultimate power of every government Ė whether
of kings or caretakers Ė rests solely on opinion and not on physical
force. The agents of government are never more than a small proportion
of the total population under their control. This implies that no
government can possibly enforce its will upon the entire population
unless it finds widespread support and voluntary cooperation within
the nongovernmental public. It implies likewise that every government
can be brought down by a mere change in public opinion, i.e., by
the withdrawal of the public's consent and cooperation. (italics
So you see,
voting is an act of support. It is how we consent to and cooperate
with our government. When we vote for someone, we are agreeing
to give him certain powers over our lives. If that politician does
not share our values, then we become complicit in our own undoing.
We become agents of the very state whose policies are antithetical
to the cause of liberty. In other words, when we vote for someone
who is not an ideological peer, we are supporting and furthering
the cause of our own enslavement.
for the lesser of two evils. Donít fall for partisan rhetoric claiming
that Romney and Obama have different ideals because, where it really
counts, they do not. Instead, vote for someone who stands for what
you believe in. Write in a vote for Ron Paul. Or give your vote
to Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, who, ideologically speaking,
is the only Presidential candidate who deserves our support. Or
express your dissent by not voting at all. Anything is better
than voting for Obama or Romney. And the same can be said for most
of the other mainstream GOP/DFL choices, as well.
And above all,
donít worry about "throwing away" your vote. Contrary
to popular belief, voting is not a pragmatic activity. Rather, it
is a supremely ideological one. It is the best opportunity most
of us ever get to voice our beliefs, our values, and our life philosophy.
Following your conscience is never wrong, ever. If enough
people understand this, real change can and will happen eventually.
But it has to start with you and me, and it has to start now.
[send her mail] a freelance
writer who lives in Minneapolis, MN.
© 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.