I've been a registered voter ever since I was 18 and a dues paying member of the Libertarian party for most of that time. I've always felt it was important to vote, especially according to ones conscience. I've always taken voting very seriously and have strived to always choose the best candidate -- the one who would do the least amount of harm -- the one who would stand up in defense of liberty.
Frequent visitors to this site will know that I have talked a lot about politics over the years. I've mentioned names of politicians that I've supported: Michael Badnarik, and Ron Paul. I've even dropped names of politicians I don't support: Mitt Romney. Recently I dropped out of the Libertarian party, but I remained sure that I could find a new political home, one that would respect my desires to have a principled approach to living in this democratic-republic of "ours".
Specifically, I wanted that new political home to be the Free State of New Hampshire.
When I got here I wanted to get involved with everything. One problem the Free State has ... is that you can't do that. You HAVE to choose what you're going to do, simply because there is so much activism going on here that you cannot be in two places at the same time. The first thing I got involved with was the NH Liberty Alliance delivering literature on the most freedom friendly candidates running in NH. Being very disgruntled with the state of national politics, I sincerely wanted to get involved with NH local politics, believing that I could do two things:
- Keep my principles of the non-initiation of force
- Actually get people, that actually represent my desires, elected
This was a prospect that gave me immense hope. I wanted to come to NH and change things. Instead, NH changed me.
I began helping one of the NHLA endorsed candidates, Jason Bedrick, in his campaign for the state legislature. I asked him, will you sign the small government pledge? I thought this was a very reasonable thing for him to do, I had heard that NH was one of the freest states in the country and has the largest legislature in the country (meaning a low citizen to representative ratio) and that the NHLA was endorsing the best liberty-friendly candidates they could find, to top that off Jason Bedrick was the NHLA top pick with a rating of A++ on their scorecard. Certainly, I had to have been dealing with the most liberty friendly candidate in the country.
He would not sign the pledge. Instead he would continue to vote for increased taxes, albeit minimally, and that he would pledge to limit "the budget increase to inflation plus population growth." In other words, he could not find one single government program that he could cut in order to decrease the states budget. Later, I would find that Jason endorsed Mike Huckabee for president. Is this seriously the best that the NHLA could find?!? Helping Jason was the last political action I've taken in NH.
Instead, I have been involved with alternative forms of activism. I have been to the federal court in support of the peaceful civil disobedience of Kat Kanning and Lauren Canario who were both jailed for peacefully and silently protesting tax funded torture in an IRS office. I have engaged in civil disobedience of breaking curfew laws in Manchester city park. I have participated in open-carry litter pickups. I have sold hot dogs in violation of police orders to vacate a plot of land. I have supported a friend in peaceful protest and burning of the US Flag. Granted, none of this may seem like much, but I feel that I have been able to demonstrate my spirit of liberty with more people than I ever could by shoving junk mail in someones door or by voting.
But why am I not voting? Certainly it wouldn't take much of my time to go mark a check by someones name that could possibly make our society ever-so-slightly more free? Right?
I have been frustrated recently because I cannot find a candidate that I can support, but I didn't understand until very recently why it so hard for me to find such a candidate -- my principle that it is wrong to initiate force against another is antithetical to the very idea of voting. When I vote, I cannot vote for the lesser of evils; a lesser evil is still evil. Even from a purely defensive argument, I cannot vote for the person that will do less harm to me because that vote is seen as a mandate. It is an endorsement from me to the candidate that he should follow his preestablished platform, one that I vehemently oppose, but one that I ultimately voted for. It is a vicious cycle of buck passing. It's also not good enough that I vote for a candidate that actually will increase liberty. Sure, he may promise to decrease government, and he may actually accomplish it. But what about all that he fails to do? There may be a candidate that will abolish 15 different government agencies, but there is no candidate out there that will ever abolish them all. Even if there was, he surely would be unwilling to do it all at once. By voting, I am supporting, and ultimately condemning, everyone in this country to serve the state in the meantime. And here's the rub, while I want liberty, especially from government, I have no right to take what I consider oppression away from someone that actually wants that oppression.
What I have discovered is that it is actually impossible for someone to represent me. Therefore, it is my responsibility to assert my own liberty in my own life. I cannot rely on anyone else to fight for my liberty, nor even if I could, no democratically elected politician could ever do so without violating another persons rights. I pledge to pursue a life full of voluntary interactions with my fellow human beings, never forcing my view point on them, unless they agress against me first.
Ron Paul, you're an admirable man. I sent you hundreds of dollars in hopes that you would inspire this country towards the ideals of liberty. You did not fail me. However, I cannot vote for you ... and I won't.
Voting is the method for obtaining legal power to coerce others. --Robert LeFevre