I believe that it’s reprehensible to to take money from strangers and use it for your own purposes. The average person would regard this statement with bewilderment because he sees the state as an inevitability. He believes that nothing is certain but “death and taxes.” We, however, know that there were other forms of social organization in the past and can imagine future societies without government. We see that the state is nothing more than those people who hold the monopoly on the acceptable use of violence. We know that they use this violence to take money from some people and give it to others.
Is it not reprehensible to use violence to compel people to perform or refrain from certain activities? This is the essence of the law, and I am too good to use violence except in the most extreme circumstances.
Perhaps, you suggest, I might vote only against certain taxes or laws. Suppose that a group of thieves convenes a conference. One thief rises and says, “I don’t think we should rob the Smith’s home.” The thieves disagree among themselves and call for a vote. Am I a righteous man if I agree with the speaker and cast my vote against robbing the Smiths? I don’t think so. I may help the Smiths but I do so at the expense of the Joneses. With my vote, I have tacitly said, “You thieves have the right to decide who you will and will not rob.” By voting, I have submitted myself to the Parliament of Robbers.
My vote would never decide an election. If, by some improbable stroke of fate, my vote did sway an election, the authorities would immediately call out the National Guard to protect the ballot boxes and call for a recount. They would soon discover that my vote was not really the deciding one. But suppose I knew that my vote would actually choose one candidate or another. I would hide in my basement so that no one could compel me to choose one evil over the another.
Any sports event is more entertaining if you have a favorite team in the contest; the game is even more enjoyable if you have a bet on the outcome. The act of voting would give me a mental stake in the election and increase my pleasure in the political process. But what is this pleasure? It is the pleasure in seeing ambitions dashed, or worse yet, ambitions realized. It is the joy of knowing that money will be taken from some and given to others. It is the happiness of knowing that laws will be passed and jails filled. It is a delight in violence, not the controlled violence in some sports or the false violence in others, but the real violence of the state. Whatever pleasure I might take in the political process is a negative pleasure, a pleasure in other people’s failures.
Why do all the politicians tell you to vote? The Republicans know that a lower voter turnout favors their chances at success. They could make a very good case that if a citizen is not informed on the issues or is indifferent to the questions or is simply lazy, the republic would fare better without his vote. And yet they all sing the same tune. “Get out and vote.” They know that the act of voting pacifies people. People believe that they still retain some control over the state (and hence their own lives) when they vote. This single, symbolic act blinds more people to the realities of modern government than all the lies of politicians put together. Voting makes slaves think they are sovereigns.
Some people say, “If you don’t vote, don’t complain.” Certainly, a more reasonable saying would be, “If you do vote, don’t complain.” You got what you wanted: the chance to be heard. I want more. I want control over my own money and my own actions. I will gladly sacrifice the illusion of ruling other people for that power.