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Note to a Voter

Here’s an e-mail to me in full from someone going by the name Democracy’s Herald:

You sir should shut up your mouth! By not voting you sacrifice your right to remark on what government does. If you do not vote that is fine, however you give up any right to protest when the government does something you disapprove of.

Here’s my reply, in full (corrected for typos):

Dear Mr. or Ms. Herald:

Thanks for your note.  You’ll not be surprised to learn that I disagree with your sentiments.  Because my humanity is not a product of government, my rights do not come from government.  Nor is my property created by government.  You might say that those rights and that property are made more secure by government.  I would contest the proposition.  In principle, that is what government is supposed to do.  (If that’s what government did, I’d be more likely to vote.)  A strong case can be made – indeed, has indeed been made by many – that my rights and my property are on the whole made less secure by government.

That I choose not to participate in a process that I find to be wholly repulsive – repulsive chiefly because its main participants assert the right (and have, practically, the power) to do with me and my property whatever they will as long as their doings bear the patina of “democratic process” – in no way weakens my natural rights to liberty and to property.

If two thieves break into my home but then offer me the opportunity to “choose” the manner in which they’ll abuse me and steal my property, I would refuse the offer.  And I would not hold these thieves to be less heinous and less responsible simply because I choose not to play their silly little game.

Don Boudreaux

UPDATE: If I believed that my vote might enhance the influence of libertarian ideas – say, by raising Gary Johnson and his campaign to serious prominence – then I’d vote.

I’ll confess here that I genuinely hope that Obama loses today’s election, even if that means that Romney wins it.  At the very least Romney’s rhetoric will, compared to Obama’s, generally be less juvenile and insulting to adults.  I also believe – yes I do! – that Romney’s economic policies will generally be superior to those of Obama.  But because Romney by and large accepts the size and scope of today’s gargantuan state (he might trim it, but he’ll not whack away serious chunks of it), it’s hardly worth my while to go yank a lever for him.  And let’s not even mention foreign policy.