Rant – why I did NOT vote

Pet peeve of the day: self righteous voters. No I did not vote today, and I keep seeing these Facebook and Twitter status updates that seem to imply this feeling of superiority to which voters subscribe in the way in which they look down on me and all of the other non voters as if we’re bad people for not voting. There are a number of trite statements that many of these people like to make:

“If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.” The reason why this is a bit distressing to me is that every time someone tells me this, I feel like they’re talking down to me as though I’ve never heard anyone else make that statement. Like they were the intellectual founder of the if you don’t vote, you can’t complain argument. My response is that I don’t spend time complaining about what the government does. Also, if I complain about what the government is doing, I feel like it would make more sense to then vote in reaction to that.

I’m not particularly up in arms about anything that they’re doing right now, therefore I don’t really care who is in office.

I think regardless of party, Washington is filled with a bunch of sleazy politicians who – though some of their actions are admirable and noble – are predominantly in politics to satisfy their own ends.

I look at what has been accomplished over the last several years, and you had the republicans ousted from congress in 2006 because people did not like the way in which they were running the country (although I would argue, they were voting like democrats). Then in 2008, the democrats maintained control of the house and won back the presidency. Many people thought that everything would get better. It hasn’t. But for me, my life is no worse now than it was in 2004 (last time I voted), or 2006, or 2008.

If the democrats maintain control of congress, I think the next two years will be very similar to the last two, but what if the republicans win? Does that mean everything will magically get better? No. Of course not. So then for whom do I vote?

No one.

I’m going to live my life. I don’t base my happiness on what is happening in Washington. Period. Regardless of which party is in power, a lot of the same things are ultimately going to be done. Aside from a few funding issues, I can think of very few ways in which it affects my daily life.

I feel like if I am in a place where everything the government does in terms of money has a direct impact on me, then that is a symptom of a greater personal problem (total lack of self reliance). As long as my rights are not being abjectly violated, I don’t think that I’m ever going to really care about what happens in Washington.

I’m not committed to a political party. I have my own philosophical ideas on how the state should function and neither party satisfies that view, and that is also a reason why I do not vote. I believe that people are endowed with a divine right to liberty. I define liberty as an individual’s intrinsic, conditional right to pursue his or her own ends so long as that they do not infringe upon the ends of another individual, or upon another individual’s intrinsic, conditional rights to life and or property.

The right is intrinsic because it is something with which we are born. It is conditional because we live in a civil society, and if we choose to violate the rights of another individual, we have made that right insecure for the society as a whole, and in the process must relinquish that right for the preservation of the civil society (It’s a very Kantian notion if you’re wondering from whence this came).

Now someone may be reading this, and say, “You sound like a republican. Why not vote for them?” Because I don’t believe that most of the candidates think this way and value an actual limited, libertarian government. From the things in which I value from the government, I see little difference between either party, and therefore I do not vote. To me, it does not matter.

As someone who wants to live his own life, I feel like it would be a self contradiction to invest significant time into living my life glued to a cable news network to know what the government is doing. Most of the news I read is related to technology. I can’t remember the last time I read something political, and I believe I’m a happier person for it.

I’m not pigeonholing to never revise my opinions. Nor am I saying that their will never be someone I do support and for whom I vote. But in this election, I didn’t think it was necessary.

I realize that to some of you, this is possibly the most important election ever. So many major issues. Some people feel like the democrats must be stopped. But if the republicans win, I ultimately feel that the agenda which is pushed will be much the same. So was 2008. So was 2004. So was every other year.

Some people take the mentality of “Vote, vote, vote, vote, vote. Just vote. Voting is great. I don’t care who you vote for just vote..” I think this is irresponsible and more reckless than not voting. People argue voting as a civic duty. But for all of the political ideologues and people easily swayed by shiny promotional stickers and misquotes in commercials, their uneducated votes are cancelling out people’s educated votes. For me to vote on things of which I have no awareness, and cancel out one person’s uneducated vote is wrong, and I feel it is a greater civic duty to honor the person who actually cares. Therefore, I didn’t vote.

Historically, the party in power struggles in midterm elections. In the last four years, America has gone from voting the republicans out to now potentially throwing the democrats out. In a few more years, we’ll be right back to where we started, which is another reason why I will not waste my life in vicariously living through what is happening on Capital Hill.

Perhaps I’ll vote in the spring and laud myself and chide those who did not vote in the

less significant springtime election. We’ll see…

I’m Josh Benner, and I approve this commentary.

JRB 11/2/10

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