L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 95, October 23, 2000
Why I'm Doing It
Voting Never Brought Freedom to Anyone
by Ernest Hancock
E/S to TLE
There is concern in the halls of government and the media that the ongoing decline in voter participation reflects apathy. More likely, I think, voters are figuring out how the system really works.
All people act in ways they perceive to be in their best interest. Politics is about trying to convince voters it is in their best interest to vote for candidates who claim to represent their interests.
Is it working? For the voters best interests?
Libertarian philosophy operates on the belief that most of the American people know that freedom is good for them — including freedom from social and economic engineering imposed on them by swarms of government agents sent to harass them and to eat out their substance.
Since merely voting for more freedom and less government has never produced anything of the sort, it is small wonder that this method is losing credibility and being abandoned by a liberty-starved populace.
I remember that it was the promise of less government that sent Ronald Reagan to the White House with the overwhelming support of the people. The promise of fundamental reforms sent people into the streets in 1992. In 1994 the promise of a contract with the American people, that a new congress would reduce government, finally gave both houses to the Republicans.
In every case the American people were lied to, and the voters know it.
What could astute potential voters be told now that would convince them they can make any real difference at the ballot box?
Even putting aside some major concerns: that vote-counting computers are not isolated from outside communication and possible control; that even court-ordered recounts of a computer-tabulated election are not verified with a manual count; that tens of thousands of unvoted ballots are mailed out and never accounted for; that the justification for automation is speed — yet we still wait days and weeks for final results; that legislation prevents simple verification of the computer program with a manual comparison after the election; that many potential voter's views are not represented on a ballot tailored to provide special advantages to parties that have been institutionalized as part of the government (crippling competition before gets established); ... even with all that aside, we have a populace that instinctively knows they are irrelevant to the process.
As an advocate of freedom, I have found that the political process allows an effective method of spreading the freedom message. For the few short months that people may be paying attention, libertarians have a chance to help them understand new questions that should be asked.
Rather than, "Would local control of public education be preferable?" Ask, "Do you support separation of Child and State?"
Rather than, "Which form of income tax is better?" Ask, "Do you believe the government has a right to your income?"
Instead of, "Should we increase defense funding?" Ask, "Do you believe we would reduce threats to the United States by no longer trying to socially or economically control people around the world?"
Rather than, "How do we provide healthcare for children of the poor?" Ask, "How much less would healthcare cost if the industry were deregulated?"
Instead of, "How do you propose to get handguns out of the hands of criminals?" Ask, "How do you plan to eliminate victim disarmament laws so people can protect themselves?"
The issues are influenced by the questions asked — and by exactly how the questions are worded — by the media, the pollsters and the politicians.
This influence is now, however, being steadily displaced as individuals use the internet to ask their own questions, and seek answers from people who have first-hand knowledge.
Influence of government and traditional media has been dwindling to the point where Libertarians will soon be begged to participate in National Presidential Debates — so someone will watch them!
But by then, the freedom movement will have already taken to the streets with growing numbers of individuals demanding to be left alone, regardless of any vote totals — whether accurate or not.