Rant – Why I did NOT Vote

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Note: This post was originally published on this blog on November 2, 2010. Here it is published with some modifications.

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. There are a number of trite statements that many of these people like to make:

“If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.” I think part of why that statement bothers me is because when I hear it, it’s always with this arrogant tone, as if I’ve never heard anybody say that before.. 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. 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.

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 canceling 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.

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.


Categories: Philosophy, Politics

8 replies

  1. So, Ron Paul fits exactly what you said you would want to vote for. Just saying…

  2. I really really love this article Josh!! Your point on people who say you can’t complain being completely unoriginal is spot on, as well as the fact that voting for the sake of voting is moronic. I vote only for the people/issues I care and am knowledgable about. And…considering my dad and others I know have run for office, it does effect my life so I get excited. However, I wish the majority of voters had your insight on the political process. I’m voting for Ron Paul in the primaries, because I love what he stands for. But when the 2012 GOP candidate is determined (which will most likely not be him), I might just write myself or Lady Gaga in for president.

    • Thanks for the compliment, and thanks for reading! I might vote next fall, I haven’t decided yet, but Issue 2 was clearly going to get voted down, regardless of how I thought. That’s the other thing. If a person lives in an area, where the population overwhelmingly is going to vote a certain way, and you agree with the majority, what difference does it make?

  3. Hey Josh! Thanks for sharing your views.

    Here’s a thought. You said, “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.”

    But what if the rights of another people group are being abjectly violated? Black slavery would never violate your or my rights. But, if that system were still in place today, would it not behoove Christians to fight against it in all realms–not only personal conversation but also fighting for legislation to abolish it?

    Your and my rights will never be violated by abortion. But, the rights of 3,000 per day are. Does this call us to be a voice for them with our vote?

    • Thanks Seth! A fair point, but to what extent does voting make a difference? Show me a politician who proposes an anti abortion constitutional amendment, and he or she will have my support. If it’s just someone whose personally pro choice running, that doesn’t necessarily carry enough weight for me.

  4. I thought the fact that George Bush and his famly cheated in the Florida voting in 2000 was a good reason to not vote. But mostly I like to stand with the half of the country who can’t vote. Everyone under the age of 18 can’t vote. The millions of legal and illegal immigrants who are not yet citizens can’t vote. Many current and former felons can’t vote. Many of the homeless, ill, aged, and otherwise disadvantaged can’t vote. If voting is so important then why can’t everyone vote?

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