Go vote (But Only if You Want To)
It’s an even year in November, so we know what that means.
Tuesday’s election is rolling around and aside from the plague of attack ads on your television screen, oodles of political spam mail and yard signs, it’s time for everyone to start telling you how important it is to “get out and go vote.”
I remember these people in college. They’d spend all day on the concourse passing out t-shirts and obnoxiously screeching out of a megaphone at innocent pedestrians trying to avoid being late for class.
“Your voice matters,” they’d say. “This is your chance to change the world.”
Yet the same people didn’t necessarily approve of me using my voice when they realized it wasn’t being used to advocate for a socialist utopia.
It’s not just college students either.
The platforms present messages on certain user's home screens, but not everyone gets them.
Low voter turnout
Why do these people feel the need to encourage others to vote anyway?
The typical excuse is that voter turnout is so low.
According to Statistica, voter turnout is higher than its all-time low in 2014, skyrocketing in 2018 potentially due to the contentious presidential election just two years prior. Despite being higher than any midterm election after the Watergate scandal, only 49% of eligible Americans voted.
A broken system
But if so many people don’t care enough to vote, why should they? I mean, can you blame them?
It doesn’t take a genius to see how our system is broken beyond repair. Politicians make promises every other year, and hardly any get answered. Nevertheless, they consistently manage to increase taxes, pass more invasive regulations and drive inflation through the roof.
And they might spend billions on unnecessary wars and drone strike a few innocent children overseas while they’re at it.
Both candidates always stink.
Politics has its way of weeding the good guys out and welcoming the truly sinister with open arms. And the good guys that manage to stay are either rendered powerless or become no longer good.
Maybe some people just want some peace and quiet. They want to turn off the news and disassociate with all the angry talking heads online. Maybe the system is utterly collapsing, but they want to maintain some semblance of sanity and live a good life in spite of it.
Is more people voting necessarily good?
Perhaps you’re different. Perhaps you want to take advantage of your opportunity to vote. Well, why would you ever want more people voting?
Unless you knew those people were likely to vote for who you want them to (and perhaps that’s who this “your voice, your vote” marketing is intended to target) how would that help you or the “greater good” of society in any way?
The more people that vote in the same election, the less your vote counts. If 100 people are registered to vote in an election and you add 900 more, the weight of your vote just went from 1% to .1%.
In real elections, we’re dealing with much larger numbers of course. The weight of your individual vote is small enough as it is. What’s your incentive for making it even smaller?
Are most people knowledgeable enough about politics?
I find the idea that the more people that exercise their vote the better the outcomes will be to be ridiculous.
This assumes that the masses are 1) knowledgeable about the way politics works and 2) have a good idea about the way politics ought to work.
Us humans have a tendency to specialize. We have a division of labor and that’s a good thing.
In “Human Society,” Ludwig von Mises wrote that “work performed under the division of labor is more productive than isolated work and that man’s reason is capable of recognizing this truth.”
We have a limited focus, so therefore we develop expertise in specific skillsets and subjects and we exchange the fruits of our expertise for the fruits of the expertise of others.
Is politics the exception? Absolutely not! Understanding the intricate details of political theory, law, political mechanics, public relations and political marketing is simply not something 99% of people have time to do.
A middle school civics class doesn’t make you an expert.
Do most people even care?
And even if we did all know how exactly how the political system works, would we all have a good idea about how it should work? Would we all be voting for the “right” intentions? Would be voting for the sake of the “common good”? I doubt it.
Most people, if they do vote, will probably vote for the option they believe will present the most immediate reward to them. They’re worried about raising their kids, making a living and taking care of their loved ones.
They’re not sitting around thinking about ideology or political theory, trying to determine which policies will be best for everybody or which political system is the most morally correct.
They’ll vote for whatever they think will sustain their lifestyle or improve it, even if that means taking away from others, future generations included.
To the ideologues
Perhaps this is to the disdain of the believer in Democracy. But perhaps it also speaks to how ineffective Democracy is.
You’ll be pleased to know that I’m not suggesting any alternative political system. I just don’t believe in politics, and if I’m going to use it, it will be only in self-defense. I'll use politics from the bottom-up to protect myself from politics and to keep it from encroaching on my family as much as possible.
I’ll never use it to intentionally take from someone else or who hasn’t intentionally taken from me and I’ll never use it to impose some ideological system on millions of people.
If I do go vote, that’s what I’ll vote for.
If someone else believes they can effectively defend themselves to a certain degree by casting a vote, they’re welcome to do so too. I might even encourage them to do so, but I’m not going to go out of my way to present that message.
But to the people who want to take something from me, impose restrictions on my family or shove your ideas down my throat, I absolutely do not encourage you to vote. In fact, I wish you wouldn’t.