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09/11/2004 Archived Entry: "The Case for Conscientious Non-Voting Part II"

This item from BreakTheChain: "Jessie Jackson has added former Chicago democratic congressman Mel Reynolds to Rainbow / PUSH Coalition's payroll. Reynolds was among the 176 criminals excused in President Clinton's last-minute forgiveness spree. Reynolds received a commutation of his six-and-a- half-year federal sentence for 15 convictions of wire fraud, bank fraud and lies to the Federal Election Commission. He is more notorious; however, for concurrently serving five years for sleeping with an underage campaign volunteer. This is a first in American politics: An ex-congressman who had sex with a subordinate, won clemency from a president who had sex with a subordinate then was hired by a clergyman who had sex with a subordinate. His new job? .....Youth counselor." URLs to related news items on site.

I am please to host the second segment of Joey King's article: The Case for Conscientious Non-Voting. The author has given permission for the article to be reprinted and reposted with proper credit given.

When I wrote the first piece I was not planning a sequel, but after careful consideration of the voting issue, other arguments have come to mind that should be noted. The first essay was published in the Spring of 2004 and can be found in the archives at www.libertyforall.net.

To sum up the essence of the previous article, I have concluded that conscientious non-voting (CNV) is underrated, and there is an important difference between CNV and apathy. That difference is activism. A CNV is active not apathetic. In addition, I have come to view the Libertarian Party's (LP) objective of using the political process to lessen the amount of politics in our lives as counter-intuitive. For that reason, I have decided not to vote for the first time in 24 years.

Now, on to some "other" arguments I mentioned in the first paragraph:

On 24 June 2004, I had the privilege of listening to LP presidential candidate Michael Badnarik's 2-hour radio interview on the Joyce Ripley VanKleist "Power Hour." He gave a succinct presentation of Libertarian ideas. One of his central themes was the need for Americans to take personal responsibility. The personal responsibility argument in Mr. Bardnarik's interview went something like this: if we turn over responsibility of our retirement savings to the state and they screw it up: whom should we blame (ourselves of course)? He made a similar point against turning more of the medical system over to the government and so on. This is the same classic Libertarian point of view we've heard for years. As a side note, I have noted previously that taking personal responsibility is something humans avoid like the plague, so any Libertarian who speaks to that issue is selling something people don't want to buy.

If we use Mr. Badnarik's logic, shouldn't the same be said for voting? I think so, and we can find a real-world example in my adopted hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. No less than 3 front-page articles were written about the ongoing problems with the Davidson County (Nashville) Election Commission during the month of June 2004. The saga ended with the termination of the Director of Elections on July 1. Allegations of sloppy (possibly illegal) record keeping, late mailing of absentee/military ballots, and vote counting problems have plagued the Commission for some time. Who is responsible when we turn over something as important as selecting our rulers to the bureaucrats, and they screw it up? Hint: the same answer Mr. Badnarik, it's us.

The voting problems in Florida during the 2000 presidential election brought the electoral process iunder the scrutiny of the public for the first time in years. Voters began to question the conduct of elections themselves. The news reports of the Florida election pretty much led me to believe military votes for overseas service members were not always counted properly. Part of the complaint against the Election Commission in Davidson County Tennessee, was that the bearucrats failed to send military ballots in a prompt manner as required by law. Back in the 1980's, I voted absentee in at least one election as a member of the armed services. Who knows if that ballot was ever counted? What would opinion polls show if we ran a nationwide survey on what Americans thought of the conduct or elections? Do you think the county election commission would get favorable poll numbers? Would the public opinion divide along racial lines? What happens when the public looses faith in the conduct of elections, as have I?

My dear friend, the late Dr. Richard Pearl Sr., compiled a book entitled "Liberty Quotes." On page 163, Josef Stalin says; " Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything." Stalin was right. Vote rigging in the US was commonplace in the past. The Crump machine in Memphis, the Dailey machine in Chicago, the Long machine in Louisiana, and the Lyndon B. Johnson machine in Texas are examples of powerful politicians who probably rigged elections over the last 100 years. Dailey was suspected of manipulating the Chicago vote totals in the presidential election of 1960 giving the race to fellow Irishman John F. Kennedy. The Illinois electoral win gave Kennedy a narrow victory over Richard M. Nixon.

Will vote rigging become as propionate as it once was? It's probable. It may be prominent now, just better hidden. I do not think there are adequate controls in place to keep non-citizens from voting. Can illegal aliens be registered to vote? It would be fairly easy to pay undocumented aliens to register, then pay them to vote in enough numbers to swing an election. Here in Nashville for example, 50 people were still registered to the old homeless shelter, which had been torn down years ago Also, I don't know much about computers, but I know any of them can be hacked. That includes the new computerized voting machines. It is possible for some campaign operative to bribe the programmer who designed the software and find the "back door" into the computerized voting machines. Manipulating the vote would then be a breeze. I think the "perfect storm" is brewing for election rigging to rear its ugly head, and I foresee it happening in the November 2004 election.

The election process is rigged in other ways. Again, with Mr. Badnarik's reasoning in mind; if we turn over the job of redistricting the congressional boundaries to someone else (Congress) and they screw it up, who should we blame: ourselves of course? Unlike Mr. Badnarik, I am not a constitutional Libertarian, so I put little faith in Congress's ability to fairly redistrict after each census. I don't have near the faith in that weathered document, as does Mr. Badnarik. To prove my point on re-districting, one needs only to look at the rate of incumbency at the state house or in the US Congress. In case you haven't noticed, there isn't much turnover at either level. That is due, in large part, to the fact that the controlling oligarchy draws "safe" districts to maintain the balance of power. A Democrat in a Democratic district rarely looses and vice-versa. It is that way by design. Sure a few seats turn over here and there, and the majority gradually changes over time. It took the Republicans hundreds of millions of dollars a good 20 years of serious effort to gain their razor-thin majority they have today. So voting for a congresscritter at the state or federal level is as useless as tits on a nun, because the outcome is pre-determined (well over 90% of the time) by the district lines. The only way a Libertarian has a chance of winning a congressional race at the state of Federal level is if there is no major party opposition and the incumbent dies the day before the election.

County, city, and local races are places where the LP has a chance to win but that is ineffectual because the problem in this country lies at the Federal level. The only "benefit" I see in running at the local level is that it is a stepping stone to higher office. My only question is, can that person remain true to the Libertarian cause as he or she works their way up the political food chain? I doubt it. Because of the way Mr. Badnarik's precious Constitution is written, a Libertarian who spends the necessary 10-15 years required to work their way up the hierarchy, would be part of the problem instead of the solution.

If local races are moot, state and Federal congressional races are impossible; the only game in town is the presidential election. Given the design of the Electoral College, A 50-vote majority of votes could result in a landslide! How fair is that? A state, which is nothing more than a line in the sand (in the sentiment of the Founders), has about as many rights in the presidential election as the people in it. With millions votes cast each presidential cycle, the effect of 1 vote rarely matters: the exception being the last presidential election in Florida and New Mexico. Voters in the other 48 states could have pretty much stayed home in 2000. The LP's 2000 candidate, Harry Browne, got ½ million votes, which was a drop in the bucket. Libertarian presidential campaign can best be though of as a "loss-leader" to gain support at the grass roots.

There is a final point I wish to make. Voting presents a moral dilemma for Libertarians because the act of voting is essentially giving authority of one man to rule another. You can only give permission for someone to rule you; that's it. The argument could certainly be made that voter participation, in and of itself, gives approval to authoritarianism.

As I have argued in this series and in other articles, an election boycott could be far superior to voting if it is managed properly. What happens if terrorists intimidate enough Americans so that only 10% of the eligible voters participate in the 2004 election? If enough people don't vote, the election would the election be de-legitimized in the minds of the masses and real change begin? As long as 25%-66% of the voters participates, freedom wil; not exist. The pundits will continue to point at the "apathetic" voters until there is a massive no-show at the polls; then, the press will focus on the CNV.

Maybe anti-authoritarians should follow the model of the Amish. They have successfully formed a viable, alternative (somewhat Libertarian) society?and they do not vote in government sanctioned elections. There are non-binding votes that the community holds occasionally on important issues, but no one is "in charge" of the Amish. They do not participate in the military, Social Security or the public schools. They grow most of their own food so they keep the fruits of their labor and have little sales tax to pay. I am certain that their lifestyle and presence in Lancaster County PA has severely limited the growth of local government. That sounds like a better plan than the current LP strategy of using the political process to get rid of politics. Last time I checked, no one has ever faulted the Amish for conscientious non-voting. Neither should I be faulted for advocating the same thing.

This year, take the advice of an unknown author who said, "Don't vote, it only encourages them."

Best to all,

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