Welcome back to Ask An Anarchist. The ongoing series where I respond to questions about anarchist philosophy.
Q) As an anarchist/voluntaryist/[other term for anti-government person] should I vote?
A) Short answer: you should do whatever feels right to you. As an anarchist myself, I’m not in the business of telling other people what they should or should not do.
The long answer is, as usual, a bit more complex…
Many anarchists have come to the conclusion that voting itself is either immoral or just plain evil. Many of these believe that voting is condoning the action of the state. Some claim that every vote is, in and of itself, an act of violence because you’re either voting for someone else to use the violence of the state to force their will on others, or directly enacting laws that will be enforced with the violence of the state. I have some questions for those who hold this belief….
2) Would you vote for your town/county/state to secede from the governmental bodies that currently reign over it?
3) Would you vote to dismantle the government in its entirety?
4) What about a vote to bring all US military personnel back to the United States?
If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then how can you justify that vote as not being evil or immoral? Aren’t you forcing your anti-prohibition and anti-government will on those who would prefer these laws and institutions remain in place?
If your answer to these questions is no, then how, exactly are you helping those in the liberty movement to bring freedom and liberty to everyone? Do you really think politicians are simply going to stop going to work one day? Do you think a time will come when the politicians are completely unable to find someone to enact violence on people that break their made up rules. Ultimately, it’s going to take a “vote of the people” to restore our liberties. The only other path to the end of government is violence, and that’s never succeeded in doing anything other than changing out one oppressor for another.
A flat out refusal to participate in any form of government election assures you’ll never see liberty in your lifetime. How can you even be a liberty activist? Isn’t protesting the police and/or politicians really just another way of voting? Except that you’re trying to convince other people to do the “dirty work” of changing the laws or system for you.
As for me, I believe in voting as self-defense, so only vote when I see an option for liberty. Sometimes that’s a candidate such as Ron Paul. Other times it’s an issue, such as California’s Proposition 19 which would have legalized the growing, using and possession of marijuana for people over the age of 21. Sure, this proposition had a lot of problems (including creating new bureaucracy), but I believe it was a step towards freedom. And those are the steps I’m interested in taking.