Voting! Is it moral?
This is a question that some dissenters of government get into thinking about from time to time. Many personalities, such as the late George Carlin, have discussed voting and how it means very little. I’m not taking that approach. I’m going to address the purely moral standpoint of voting. I’m not going to get into the theories or conjectures as to why people with power in government will never truly give up their positions because power is said to corrupt, etc., etc. If you would like to understand that sentiment a little more, please revisit my previous work titled Knowledge is Power to get an idea of how that might play out. I’ll add a link in the description below.
What I am going to get into is the case that voting is moral on the grounds that it is self defense. A lot of people tend to invoke the method of voting as a just way to convince the people in government to back down, give up power, or otherwise free the citizenry a little more. Then there is the case that government can be disbanded through the methods of voting, at least in democratic-republican forms of government. So among the more well read individuals, the invocation of Lysander Spooner’s work often is presented. The specific passage is as follows:
“In truth, in the case of individuals, their actual voting is not to be taken as proof of consent, even for the time being. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, without his consent having even been asked a man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot resist; a government that forces him to pay money, render service, and forego the exercise of many of his natural rights, under peril of weighty punishments. He sees, too, that other men practice this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. He sees further, that, if he will but use the ballot himself, he has some chance of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting them to his own. In short, he finds himself, without his consent, so situated that, if he use the ballot, he may become a master; if he does not use it, he must become a slave. And he has no other alternative than these two. In self-defence, he attempts the former. His case is analogous to that of a man who has been forced into battle, where he must either kill others, or be killed himself. Because, to save his own life in battle, a man takes the lives of his opponents, it is not to be inferred that the battle is one of his own choosing. Neither in contests with the ballot – which is a mere substitute for a bullet – because, as his only chance of self-preservation, a man uses a ballot, is it to be inferred that the contest is one into which he voluntarily entered; that he voluntarily set up all his own natural rights, as a stake against those of others, to be lost or won by the mere power of numbers. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, in an exigency into which he had been forced by others, and in which no other means of self-defence offered, he, as a matter of necessity, used the only one that was left to him.”*1
The argument Spooner is making is a moral argument. It discusses morality from the point of view of consent, coercion, and voluntary interactions. But this is not enough of an argument to justify voting.
Because it is a moral argument that requires full transparency in thought progression starting with what the purpose of morality is. Once that is achieved the means to make the goal possible present themselves in the fashion of avoiding hypocrisy, by avoiding contradictions in our proclaimed philosophy and our actions. And it is here that people often invoke analogies to make the points they do not fully understand beyond sentiment well enough to explain in pure logically connected points.
As it just so happens to be, an analogy used to convey this point of voting being moral is often that of a robber pointing a gun demanding money. The victim lies about giving up all of his money in order to save some of it because the robber introduced an act of unwarranted aggression. This doesn’t work because voting is about using the methods the robber or government tells the victim or citizen to use in order to direct the actions of the robber. In the scenario the robber is directly threatening force, not asking for participation. So what are those actions a robber will tell others to engage in that are akin to voting?
The first is that the robber is going to continue going around and stealing from others. The actions of robber being anything less than voluntary become the problem. Out of fear of negative consequences for not complying with the robber’s demands people beg and plead with the robber to not hurt them and take up a vote amongst them to comply with the robber but with specific terms and alterations of the initial demands. The power here is that if the victims, now considered voters, can make this happen, it must be asked, what power do the voters have?
Unless the robber brings in a fully automated machine gun with hundreds of rounds of ammunition readily fed into the firearm, then he is going to have a rough time convincing all the people. The only power he truly has will be keeping his victims at bay through fear. If he is trying to rob twenty people and is an expert marksman even under the direst circumstances, he’s going to need at least twenty bullets.
So how does the robber convince the people to not attack him? Well, he has to give them a means to negotiate with and must make good on some of those negotiations. So before the victims ever realize they can negotiate with the robber, the robber presents the solution to negotiate if they want to not get hurt. Of course no one wants to get hurt so they agree.
In the process of this agreement some disagree as how to best limit the robber’s power and authority without actually realizing the solution is to take a risk knowing someone could or will get hurt or killed in order to stop the robber. Somehow the robber is going to have to back down through threat of pain or death just the same as he coerced his victims into giving him money and behaving in a manner he desired that was profitable to him. So the voters, once victims, agree to give the robber some portion of what he wants but not the entirety of what he wants in exchange for the ability to come back later and take a little more so no one is hurt in the interim.
This scenario can play out and works but now the people whom see that the robber needs to be met with force are now subdued by those whom want to avoid hostilities. They agree to work with the robber. If by chance voting does work to change the robber, at what expense to those whom participated voluntarily and those whom did not suffer?
The argument is going to be that life was protected, even the robbers. And yes, that is a tremendously noble goal. The problem is that people whom were justified in also pointing a gun at the robber were made to suffer because the dissenters would then have to be faced with defending themselves potentially from those whom didn’t want any violence at all but would have potentially acted violently towards the initial dissenter or defender. Why?
Typically because the robber is a greater threat and hasn’t disclosed his moral philosophy. The defenders are more likely to be threatened by others victims because they didn’t initially point a gun at the other victims. Now they are being made out to be worse than the robber because they are willing to allow others to be physically hurt or killed by antagonizing the robber whom had no right in the first place to point a gun and make demands. That’s the dilemma.
Fear of the robber has clouded the judgment of potential future outcomes of greater prosperity and success at the expense of the moment to avoid greater misfortune. It’s terrible and horrendous that someone has decided to point an instrument of destruction at another to take and consume instead of use a tool of creation to create and be at least neutral in interactions with others. So the now the choice is to risk eternal enslavement to the whims of someone pointing instruments of destruction or take a risk and meat such violence with violence?
The outcome of that position is the robber decides to not rob anymore or he decides to open fire risking his own life now with a far greater certainty. If he drops his weapon he may be peacefully collected and made to pay or he may have the hell beaten out of him. If he opens fire then people will likely get hurt. But make no mistake that the robber initiated those potential outcomes.
The other outcome is to follow his rules, eventually vote and negotiate with him which leaves to greater freedom and the eventual reduction of his activities and reinstatement into otherwise peaceful society. The alternative outcome could be that it never ends because the robber then gives a portion of what he takes to others to purchase their poorly invested loyalty in him. Then the victims fight amongst each other as to how things should be run and eventually get to the point of saying, “if you don’t like it, let us elect you to power and then you can stop extorting us to pay for little Timmy’s medical bills and Little Jimmy’s education. See how he is folks? He doesn’t want the guy we thought was a robber to help us pay for our bills and expenses.”
Of course if the robber is killed or stopped with equal violence or even elected to stop by mob rule, another outcome could arise. The people then take a vote to have someone among them charged with pointing a gun at people while collecting a small fee from the previous victims to be paid to protect from future robbers. And to purchase equipment needed.
Now instead of the robber pointing a gun, one of the victims is now pointing a gun with a mob of supporters behind him. Their proclamations will be that of protection. That is always how these things start.
Voting to convince the robber, who first says that he will only answer to those whom agree to work with him voluntarily while he coerces the conformity of others to do so at gun point or threat of bodily harm or death is morally and philosophically contradictory in what is universally consistent and applicable. Why is it okay for the robber to point a gun without being the victim of an act of unwarranted aggression by those he is pointing a gun at?
So now we must understand why the robber or government is allowed to do this. Why do the people seem to turn a blind eye or fail, for whatever reason, to recognize this seemingly contradictory point of logic?
Simply put, what is the purpose of stopping government? Why do we want it? What do we not want it? Why do we want to work with it? How does it work? The sentiment behind those questions needs to be addressed. And when we address that sentiment, the purpose of government, it comes down to one of morality.
Well, morality is about the protection of life, specifically Human life from Human life. Morality is a means of setting boundaries between people more or less. What these boundaries are and how they are invoked, applied, and maintained is also important. So once more, we need to ask another question. What is the purpose of morality?
It is here that it is pertinent to understand the purpose of morality, at least as I have defined in my previous work, Morality Defined and by extension my work before that, Liberty Defined. Of course it should go without saying that I am basing my position of why voting is one way or the other on my moral philosophy. And before I get into that it is important to ask the question: What is the purpose of government since that is the system or idea in question that invokes the moral argument of what voting is.
Some examples of what the purpose of government are:
-Protection for those whom cannot ordinarily protect themselves through what is called police and law enforcement
-Protection of the world from tyrannical ruling through military maintenance
-Protection of the local populace from invasion through military maintenance
-Collective pooling of resources to create massive civil projects, such as infrastructure
-Collective pooling of resources to create educational facilities, leadership, and social organizations
-Collective pooling of resources to protect economic interactions from fraud, etc.
The most common denominator of the universal desire for government tends to be for protection. This protection is typically from foreign invaders, domestic aggressors, and in favor of security against those whom falsely accuse others. Of course the latter is mostly for democratic-republican forms of government in terms of avoiding mob rule via vigilante posses and false or incorrect accusations. The pooling of resources for things such as infrastructure, education, and other similar ideas provided would likely fall under the idea of protection against poverty and illiteracy, the same as economic protections.
Now according to reference dot com, government’s purpose is:
“According to the Constitution of the United States, the federal government was established for six specific purposes. These purposes include unity, justice, domestic tranquility, defense, promotion of the general welfare of the citizens and securing liberty for all.”*2
This purpose according to reference dot com fits well within the general narrative that protection is the common theme. Unity is often related to the idea of ‘safety in numbers’, justice is about vindication, compensation, and rebuilding instead of revenge which protects the innocent and guilty alike from overly harsh punishment and unjust accusations, and even the promotion of general welfare is about aiding the common individual with basic maintenance of his or her life. Domestic tranquility is just a fancy phrase for peace as best I can figure which would invoke the necessity of local police and law enforcement against common nuisances, thieves, and the like.
At this point I think it is fair to say that the common theme or the noblest intent of government is about protection. I conclude that government is about physical protection from foreign invaders, local aggressors, and commercial regulation. So what does protection mean concerning these three notable items?
It is probably obvious that the first two items are about protection via military capacity and police / law enforcement capacity. The third, commercial regulation is a little trickery to say the least as it requires so much more time to understand. Commercial regulation will stem from the intent to protect but from what and how?! To start with, this protection is concerning the money supply. Counterfeiting is a serious deceptive practice which limits the ability of a currency user to acquire what I call real wealth, or goods, services, and ideas, through the exchanging of the refinement of their time, intellect, and labor in exchange for currency that is in turn useful for further exchanges of the real wealth others desire. The deception comes in the form of devaluing the currency in question by producing more of it than is thought to be in circulation.
Of course this is a little more complex of a topic and I can visit it again later in another piece if the demand arises for such. However, the abilities of any society to protect and defend against such deflation and inflation of currencies comes in the form of not coercing everyone to use a single currency through the manipulation of accepting a system the robber or government enforces upon those beneath its claimed jurisdiction (see also the barrel of the gun). To cooperate with the robber or government and give in to the demand for whatever form of wealth is desired to stay the trigger finger of the robber or law enforcer is to show others that whatever wealth this coercive entity desires is valuable in negotiating with the unwarranted aggressor. Let me state that again differently. When the victim or target of immoral aggression compromises with the unwarranted aggressor then legitimacy is granted to the aggressor’s actions because the alternative choice is to fight back in the moment. But because the choice in this case is to submit, the robber knows that he may potentially get away with such an act in order to make further attempts which may turn into a career. Thus the victim now must support the robber’s choice of career in part with everyone else that does not fight back and the robber targets. And that is an enormous philosophical miscalculation in handling the issue of unwarranted aggression, or lack of respect for the value others place upon themselves in general.
Then there is another destructive act requiring protection of commerce. This is the inevitable risk people take when negotiating for exchanges with others. Organizations such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture in the United States are said to be protectors of the consumer. Regardless of whether or not these protections are in place, people end up hurt or worse because accidents and intentional acts happen. In the case of funding such organizations people are coerced into becoming dependent upon them with the arrival of each new generation not taught how to think critically and perform at least basic investigatory skills to understand the risks involved in such interactions.
So what does this have to do with whether or not voting is immoral? Well, the question is about understanding the premise of why government is invoked. If we do not understand the goal of why government is invoked, then we cannot formulate a clear set of parameters from which we can create the means to achieve the goals desires and not have these methods contradict the goals.
Now that I’ve established the purpose of government, it is time to ask another question.
What’s the problem with how government helps people with programs such as the aforementioned?
Government is supposed to protect people. The problem is in how government does this. And this is where the analogy of the robber comes into play. Not everyone is always going to be in agreement about how to best provide protections. And when we tell someone that they are not to fight back, even though they are allowed to vocally disagree, we are saying that we do not respect them well enough to let them be alone and choose their own path.
It is important to give others the ability to choose. We must also make the effort to understand the context of every situation. And if it were not for the employment of force outside of the realm of self defense against otherwise peaceful individuals by also otherwise peaceful individuals to coerce the formers’ ability to be left in peace, participation in government would be as voluntary as is going to a Macy’s Department store instead of a Wal-mart. Yet, it is typically about this point where someone will interject the idea of a social contract. But what is a social contract?
A social contract is nothing more than the invocation of a moral code that is built upon an ‘either or’ situation. Every social contract invoked which has led to the creation of government as the means to provide all of the aforementioned protections and pooling of resources to provide such, is built on this ‘either or’ concept. How?
Well, for starters, how many of you have stated or been told that if someone doesn’t agree with the majority consensus that they must leave? That’s the ‘either or.’ Either we accept the violence the majority or the illusion of the majority imposes upon us and cower to it instead of standing up to it or we leave its claimed jurisdiction. That’s not morally acceptable to anyone with a clearly laid out path of thought progression which starts with a clear goal in mind from which a set of parameters can be established and then used to work within so as to not contradict the purpose of the goal.
Now if the goal of government is protection and the protection is from people who want to do harm to those whom agree and voluntarily support government, then that directly creates animosity between those whom want protection but do not agree with means that are government. Failure in compliance with government demands makes the disagreeing individual a target for government aggression. Now, most moral codes recognize that aggression without first being the victim of an unwarranted act of aggression is in itself immoral. Therefore, government, like that robber, is immoral.
But wait just a moment! I’m not discussing most moral codes. I’m discussing my moral philosophy and why voting is either moral or immoral. So it would be important to understand what my moral philosophy is. If you have read my book, Morality Defined, then you already understand what I am about to share with you.
My moral code is based on recognizing the value I have in myself. I want that value respected. It doesn’t matter how much I want it respected because that is subjective in nature based on the kind of interactions and relationships I have with people. This means that the default total of value to be respected must be 100%.
Knowing this, I recognize it in others. I find ways of conveying this to others and I adjust my relationships with these others I interact with accordingly. But at no time does my respect for the value of others drop to less than such without the interaction being involuntary. Others must first violate the trust I have placed in them or must disrespect the value I have placed on my life in order for me to consider any amount of respect for the value of their lives to be forfeit.
That is the foundation of the Nonaggression Principle in a nutshell. It is the beginning of all morality. And morality is based on the idea of preserving Human life that is sentient, reason capable, and able to communicate. Yes, this includes unborn, suicidal, and comatose individuals alike based on the circumstances they are privy to. To understand more about those circumstances I advise taking an afternoon to read Morality Defined. For now, what applies to those of us not associated with such circumstances is the setting of boundaries to avoid unwarranted acts of destruction and transgressions while leaving a reasonable means to defend against innocent and intentional acts alike.
Again, the goal is to preserve, but not necessarily promote Human life. The advocacy of promotion equates to forcing people to refine their time, intellect, and labor into real wealth that can be used to maintain the lives of others. And it is here that enslavement to the popular rhetoric that is the social contract comes to light. If we have an obligation to help others then we are in essence enslaved to the whims of society where no amount of perfection can be achieved short of jailing all of us with a relative handful in charge centrally planning everything where they can benefit at the expense of the rest of us in cages.
So now it comes down to the issue of whether or not voting is immoral, moral, or amoral. Based on my moral philosophy, voting is immoral. The means employed by government are not voluntary. Taxes must be collected in order to fund the ability to vote. Funding the ability to vote through stolen funds that are recognized by those whom understand that taxation is theft means that voting is immoral.
It is one thing to purchase a stolen stereo that you did not know was stolen. It is something entirely different to purchase something that was not stolen. The ground may seemingly be negligible for voting, but if one accepts the resources provided to vote with knowing that those resources were paid for with stolen wealth, they are encouraging the government or robber to continue providing such a platform. Let me state that again slightly differently.
If someone purchases stolen goods from a known thief knowing absolutely that at least part of the goods purchased from the thief were stolen, he or she is now encouraging the thief to continue in much the same way people who gave orders and paychecks to subordinates are guilty of encouraging immoral and destructive behavior.
So if you vote then you are absolutely guilty of legitimizing the system in which you participated because there was no immediate threat of being killed for not participating in such acts by the entity proclaiming to change based on the results of such voting. That is it. There is nothing more to the reasons why voting is immoral. However, there are a few other points that I would like to address concerning the popular reasons for so many self proclaimed advocates of ‘peaceful’ anarchism, voluntaryism, and the like to suddenly vote in the recent U.S. election for president between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
A lot of people went out to vote and did so to stop the election of Hillary because of the seemingly inevitable onset of war with Russia. That’s something that is terrifying to so many people. I understand that war is a major problem. I also understand that choosing Trump over Hillary was nothing more than begging for the powers that be to not go to war and instead keep me enslaved for a short time longer. At least that is the far lesser of the two easily electable choices for November 2016.
There was no moral principle invoked in those choices. The choice was to avoid war with a greater percentage through one candidate than another. That’s all there was too it.
However, many people will point out that there were more reasons to vote for Trump than just avoiding war! Fine! Trump held almost zero political promises in terms of campaign donations requiring him to return favors when compared to Hillary that are known at the time of this works creation. The argument that is made in favor of voting for a change goes as follows:
At no point in recent U.S. history has a presidential candidate ever run a platform as Trump has. He has relatively no strings attached, he’s been a private businessman for his entire life, and he’s got no record of trying to bomb other countries, start wars, or otherwise profit off taxpayers without at least providing some kind of service in return when compared to all other presidential candidates capable of being elected, given the status quos they faced at the time. That is seemingly a powerful argument for putting someone in a position of power where, as far as I understand, Abraham Lincoln’s declaration of martial law has not yet been rescinded.
That is of note since the introduction of Lincoln’s issuance of martial law seems to correlate with the increased numbers of executive orders issued.*3 And the ability to issue executive orders means that the President of the United States has tremendous power. While I’m not expert on U.S history, since Lincoln’s war, the power of the president has only increased through these executive orders. That’s why presidential elections in the United States are such a big deal, as far as I understand. But who knows about this problem concerning the Union’s republican form of government stemming from the 1860’s, over 150 years ago?
Whatever the issue is with why the president has power means very little in the face of the moral argument anyway. The issue is always the same. Who is initiating force over others and why? That’s the issue at hand. The violence employed. And then there will be people who ask, “What violence, since this is all voluntary?”
Voting is the distraction. Voting is the ‘bread and circus’ distraction! How that event is created is the problem. And violence or threat of violence is used to make voting happen by means of coercing people into paying taxes or to leave. Because of that the issue of violence, it needs to be addressed.
People who want something from others invoke the idea of how majority rules when it pertains to achieving things that are commonly provided by government actions today. But what is happening when a majority ruling is invoked? When did everyone who the ruling applies to consent to being part of that ruling? ‘Never’ is the answer, but by default of simply existing is what so many people will say who support the social contract idea. Of course refusal to accept that contract or the ruling of any proclaimed majority is met with hostility which does include physical violence. That much is clear to those whom understand the mantra of ‘if you don’t like it, then leave!’
Again, it is important to recognize that this violence needs to be addressed. And even if Trump was running on the platform of abolishing the federal government and won, morally speaking it would still be immoral to vote for him or anyone else because morally and philosophically consistent people do not need the rules of a robber or thief to abide by to convince such that they need to back down and be peaceful. In this regard, morally and philosophically consistent people have their clearly defined moral goals available to show the world and would brandish their own firearms and truncheons letting those in power know that their presence is not desired, useful, or wanted in the capacity they are offering it.
By voting one only encourages the enslavement of the innocent to the nescient and guilty alike. Why? Because the violence employed to make the system possible has to be addressed. If the violence is not addressed with some equal version of it, there will be no end to the system of oppression. It is the violence introduced to coerce conformity by those who want the noble protection rooted in moral codes; but do not understand the importance of creating clarity, consistency, and universal applicability in their moral codes before invoking them; which then leads them to initiating hostilities to enforce what they understand and believe in sentiment but not well enough to logically break down.
HOWEVER, this doesn't mean that the violence must be enacted. We don't have to stop a robber by shooting the robber every time, even after the robber has shot at us. If enough of us brandish our own firearms the robber will back down.
That's the underlying purpose of not voting. But we cannot just ‘not vote.’ We have refuse to vote and then take a good long look at those in power while brandishing our own firearms, while displaying our own means to show force. This is the idea behind other nations not directly invading the United States because a gun may be behind every blade of grass. That lets those in power and potential invaders know we are not interested in allowing their terror and aggression against us anymore or ever at all. Not a shot needs to be fired.
The only thing that needs to be done is to send a message that says:
'We know you want us to obey. We are peaceful and do not want to obey. If you do not respect the value we have for ourselves to make our own peaceful decisions, then we will not respect the value you have for yourself and will meet whatever force you employ with equal force.'
What this does not mean is that it is somehow okay to go and shoot or employ violence against voters. If people do not understand why they are being attacked they will assume they can use legitimate self defense moral positions to stop whomever they perceive as unwarranted aggressors. These people, these voters, must be treated as nescient. Everyone should be given the benefit of the doubt even if a presidential candidate is elected who takes us to war!
Because moral and philosophical consistency requires sacrifices to be made, is why. No, not in their inconsistent adherence, but in their consistent adherence, is why. If moral and philosophical consistency means anything to the preservation of mankind then leading by example will create a transparent path of thought progression for others to eventually find, point to as an example, and then see how those with the moral and philosophical inconsistencies destroyed themselves and countless innocents alike.
Yet, by stepping in and voting for the supposed lesser evil, one compromises his or her position leaving room for interpretation as to the credibility of the now seemingly inconsistent once upon a time nonvoter. Absolutely there is the goal to preserve Humanity. And I want more fellow minds to work peacefully with.
The sad truth is that so many people are without understanding and knowledge. I can’t give that to everyone anymore than I can give life to someone I may have unjustly taken it from. Therefore, it is in my best interest pertaining to the moral philosophy I have laid out in Morality Defined to be willing to lend aid to people when they seek it but not at the expense of my ability to provide for myself.
This is the logic behind putting on your oxygen mask in a crashing airplane before helping others. You can’t take care of others if you are not taken care of yourself. And if I am still being put under the gun by others who vote, even if they don’t understand it yet, I am not in a position to help them just yet because the choice to employ reason must come from within. That’s the reason why voting is so immoral fundamentally.
A robber or government can point a gun at me, threaten to point it at me later, and tell me that he will not back down unless his rules are followed and they dictate he needs to do so. But the moment those rules state such, will he since his position along with government’s position is based on initiating violence to coerce conformity? Probably not, I present. Only equal force used against force will. And then we learn that violence begets violence through these means.
Do not take that to mean that voting is the answer. No. The use of compassion, context, and clarity of a situation to comprehend more peaceful solutions and teach how to create real wealth is the answer. But don’t ask me to show the way for that just let. I’ll get to it in a future work.
What I aimed to show in this particular work was how voting is actually immoral. The problem with invoking voting as a legitimate way to stop a robber, or government in this case is the failure of most people to fully showcase their moral framework. And if the initiation of any kind of hostility is justified outside of the realm of one’s self defense is allowed in a moral code then, there are inconsistencies which need to be addressed. And if inconsistencies are not addressed, then violence will inevitably be introduced as I expressed previously because the invocation of such violence is due entirely to the failure of the invoker to show a clear goal from which to craft parameters to be used to enable means to achieve the stated goal without contradicting the stated goal.
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