One of the members of a list I’m on is an example of the more vocal anti-voting Anarcho-Capitalist friends that I spoke of in The Vote. He’s rather fond of finding an article that addresses something he objects to, and throwing the file at his opponents as if the file will speak for itself.
Consequently, after posting The Vote to the list, I get the article Is Voting an Act of Violence? in HTML format, clipped right off the web page as a reply. Not one to waste such an opportunity, I decided to address the problems with the article both on the list, and to the author himself. So, with no further exposition, here are the salient points I wish to dissect.
Carl Watner wrote:
Each person, by voting, sanctions the violence used by agents of the State. The link in the chain of responsibility for that violence surrounds each voter when he pulls down the lever in the voting booth.
This point (which is the summary point of the entire article) can be easily shown to be in error. Casting a ballot for write in candidates that you make up on the spot results in a vote for a candidate that cannot hold the office; it is essentially a vote for none of the above. There is no chain of violence attached to such a vote. Casting a ballot for Libertarian candidates is casting a vote for those who have renounced violence as a method of political gain. There is no chain of violence attached to this vote either. Casting no votes for all propositions that expend tax dollars, or that criminalize behaviors not formally criminal (such as smoking and gay marriage) also carry no “chain of violence”.
Walking in to the voting booth and casting a blank ballot removes the requirement to pull the lever for anyone, at all. It also removes any associated endorsement of violence.
As for the resulting argument concerning funding the election itself; the election will occur anyway. It’s no different than putting a bullet in the head of a burglar who enters your house in the night. The election occurs, your opinion is warranted. Give them your opinion, even if that opinion isn’t one they want to hear. Unless you are a pacifist, there shouldn’t be a problem with responding in kind in a situation such as this.
Carl Watner goes on to say:
Voting is an act of presumptive violence because each voter assumes the right to appoint a political guardian over other human beings. No individual voter or even a majority of voters have such a right. If they claim to possess such a right, let them clearly explain where that right comes from and how it squares with the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence “that all men are created equal, [and] that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable “Rights” of “Life, Liberty,” and Property.
This is actually the easy part to address. A person can choose not to vote, not to participate, and that is their prerogative. It would be an act of violence to force someone to choose his own master, or who he is going to associate with. So voting is and should be voluntary.
In the same vein, a person can choose not to self-govern, and for that reason some form of external governance will always be needed as a fall back position. For those people who will not govern themselves, there will be a government that can be applied to them, for the protection of those who can and do self-govern.
If there is going to be a government, someone must be selected (in some form or fashion) to enforce laws on those individuals not willing to respect other’s Life, Liberty and Property. The selection process is currently democratic in nature; ergo, you have to vote. And until there is some other way to select government for our own defense (a government in line with the founders intentions) voting is an act of self-defense; which can involve violence when it is required.
To object to violence done by one’s own hand in self-defense is to render oneself the slave anyone who is willing to do violence to get his way. If this is what you are objecting to, then I gladly distance myself from your opinion.