≡ Menu

Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 1 of GMU law professor Ilya Somin’s newly published (2020) book, Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom:

We often take it for granted that ballot box voting is the essence of political freedom. In liberal democracies, it is generally considered the main way for the people to choose what sort of government policies they will live under.

The ballot box indeed has great value. But it also has significant flaws. As a mechanism for expressing political choice, it leaves much to be desired. The individual voter almost never has more than a minuscule chance of making a difference to the outcome of an election. And for that very reason, he or she has little incentive to become well-informed about the issues at stake in any election.

Voting with your feet – “foot voting” – is in many ways a superior alternative.

DBx: “Progressives” rightly value and praise freedom of expression. But the only acts that they regard as expressive are ‘voice’ acts – acts such as speaking, writing, the creation and display and performance of art, and, above all, voting. (I here overlook many “Progressives’” rising ambiguity toward – and in some cases outright hostility to – freedom of speech.) But we humans express ourselves also in ‘action’ ways. Two of the most important of our ‘action ways’ are contracting (that is, engaging in commerce) and migrating (what Ilya calls “foot voting”). “Progressives” are very skeptical of the first of these action-ways (with more and more conservatives now joining in on this skepticism). Many modern-day conservatives especially, but also large numbers of “Progressives,” are skeptical also – indeed, in many cases opposed – to the second of these action ways.

Of course voice-ways differ from action-ways, and at least some of these differences have relevance for law and policy. But great progress in our thinking will occur if we come to see more clearly that action-ways have significant expressive components. Indeed, the expressive components of our action-ways are often more accurate and meaningful than are the expressive components of our voice-ways.


So far I’ve read only a few pages of Ilya’s new book. And so far it’s splendid. I’ll be shocked if, when I’m finished reading it, my assessment of the entire work differs from my assessment of its opening pages.


Next post:

Previous post: