…because the same old damn argument is raging again. (Or still. Whatever. It never stops, but it only rages once every two years.)
“If you don’t vote, you don’t have any right to complain.”
Which to me always seems exactly backward. If you vote, you’re acknowledging the legitimacy of the system as it has devolved so what are you complaining about? You’re getting just what you said you wanted: More government*.
So am I, of course, but let that go for a moment.
I’m just stating that because I don’t pretend to stand above the argument. If the argument must happen at all, that’s the side I’d take in it. To quote the cliché, No matter who you vote for government wins. All this is brought to mind on this beautiful if chilly Tuesday by reading all about it here, in a rather unusual example of the argument in that both sides are expressed quite well as is the third conclusion which somebody will inevitably draw, which is that it’s time to start letting Mssrs. Stoner and Kalashnikov do the voting.
And that’s wrong, too. In fact that’s the worst conclusion you’ll find in the box: the course of despair, in which you blow off steam until some overgeared drone blows off your head. And/or burns your house down around you.
In fact, historically, getting your fifteen minutes of fame as a Lone Nut isn’t even the worst possible outcome. The worst possible outcome, historically, happens when there really is an uprising and it really does succeed in sending the current bastards to the lamp posts. That’s when you meet the new bastards. You don’t want to meet the new bastards. You think you’ve got it bad now? Wait’ll the American version of Daniel Ortega is running things, comrade.
The problem isn’t the argument. The problem is the box in which the argument always takes place.
I think I have just seen a new low in the thinking of my fellow conservatives. The people who refuse to vote are going to give this election to the liberals for no other reason than their refusal to vote in a “corrupt system” (most likely), thereby corrupting the system they are against.
In the box, there are always two and only two alternatives (discounting that counsel of despair, of course.) You vote for the closest thing to a conservative because otherwise the despised liberal will win again. Any argument in rebuttal…
Voting, per se, won’t fix the federal government. It wasn’t created that way, it wasn’t corrupted that way, the degenerate status quo isn’t maintained that way and it can’t be fixed that way.
That’s because the game is rigged. No matter who they are, or how they start out – with very few, very rare exceptions – every politician elected to office in D.C. becomes part of The Beltway Party. chasmatic is absolutely right in this respect: “No matter who you vote for, the government gets elected.”
…is immediately shot down with the (logical, inside the box) counter-rebuttal that doing nothing hands the whole thing to the hated liberals, and so ‘the perfect becomes the enemy of the good.’ We’ve been over this and over this, around and around and around, and we always end up in the same place. Voting day comes, voters vote, non-voters don’t vote, and government wins. It’s called ‘thinking inside the box.’
The problem is the box. Here are the four alternatives with which we’re presented:
*Conservatives win, and government grows.
*Liberals win, and government grows.
*We vote from the rooftops and are slaughtered, and government grows.
*We vote from the rooftops and win, and are betrayed.
And government grows.
I detect a pattern.
The problem is the box. In 1789 a bunch of people I never met ratified a document that a lot of people thought seemed like a good idea. I don’t recall being consulted, but reading through that document now with the benefit of 225 years of hindsight shows me, at least, that we ended up where we are now quite inevitably. Frankly, I’m surprised the central government isn’t more totalitarian than it currently is: There seems nothing of substance to prevent it. Of course those three ‘opposing’ branches of government would collude to maximize their overall power. There are plenty of incentives, and absolutely no measures to prevent or punish it. The party system has served as a mask for many years but the ratcheting effect has become quite naked now. They still serve, for a majority of people, to hide the box.
We are told, by those who benefit from it, that we are all parties to a ‘social contract.’ Let’s look at the concept of that contract. A contract is:
a binding agreement between two or more persons or parties; especially: one legally enforceable
An agreement between two or more persons or parties implies that all parties have agreed, yes? Did somebody invite you to sign this ‘social contract?’ I’m just wondering, because they missed asking me.
But it is rational to conclude that if you voluntarily vote for one of the candidates on the list that’s presented to you, you have at least tacitly agreed to the contract. Enjoy your chains, citizen, but don’t come and tell me I have ‘no right to complain.’ YOU have no right to complain.
This supposed ‘social contract’ doesn’t apply to me unless I agree to become a party to it.
Yeah, you noticed how silly that statement sounded, didn’t you? That’s because this is the part where the guns come out, and what does that say about the ‘contract?’
And by now somebody will quite reasonably ask, “Okay then, Joel, what’s your solution?” Hey, I’m just an old hermit. Only a fool would come looking to me for advice. I can tell you what works for me. In fact I’ve been telling you for six years now. I am under absolutely no illusion that it can be scaled up to a nation with hundreds of millions of people, nor do I suggest that anyone try. In the dark of night, when I do all my best thinking, I believe there is no way out within the paradigm of the nation-state. Look at all the alternatives that have been tried over the centuries, and look how they always end up. The one constant is the nation-state. But history also gives us lots of examples of what happens when you break society into smaller units, and that’s not pretty either.
I know of no solution to the ills of ‘society.’ Neither do you. Neither does Barack Obama, or Nancy Pelosi, or Rand Paul. Anyone who says he does is ignorant and/or lying through his teeth.
But I know what works for me. Nobody can solve the problems of ‘society,’ but anybody can work on his or her own problems.
Step one is to step outside the box. Let’em have their fun: We’re never going to change them, but we can be looking for ways to live in spite of them. And maybe someday, down the road, we can starve the beast down to size. I don’t predict that, exactly, but it’s a more realistic dream than that you’ll reform politicians and bureaucrats.
*BTW, this discussion refers strictly to federal elections. There are plenty of much more compelling arguments in favor of participating in local elections.
ETA: And these are the people you’re voting for…