Lew Rockwell has posted a nice piece on his website about voting, or perhaps I should say not voting. He says that voting does not change the situation. He says that not voting “makes them [politicians], just on the margin, a bit more fearful that they are ruling us without our consent.”
Ironically, Rockwell departs a little bit from his icon, Murray Rothbard. Rothbard, even as an anarchist, was not afraid to ally himself with others, including politicians. He saw nothing wrong with supporting the lesser of two evils, as long as it was a move towards liberty, or at least less tyranny. Rothbard was willing to use the system, even if he disagreed with it.
Just to be clear, if Rockwell is disagreeing with Rothbard on this point, it is only a disagreement about strategy. It is not a disagreement about where we should be going.
I take the middle ground between their positions, if that is possible. Like Rothbard, I do not see any contradiction in voting, even if you are a radical libertarian. The act of voting is not violating a libertarian principle of advocating the initiation of force. I suppose someone could argue that counting the ballot might be a government expense, but this money was already extracted anyway.
If the act of voting can help move us closer to liberty, then I am all for it. However, like Rockwell, I don’t see that it will change the situation in this presidential election. (In my opinion, if Rothbard were alive today, I highly doubt he would be supporting Romney or Obama.)
If I am going to vote in any election, it can’t just be voting for the lesser of evils. I will only vote for principled libertarians. There are few people in Congress I would vote for. I would vote for Ron Paul. I might vote for Justin Amash. If I lived in Kentucky, it would have been a tough choice on whether to vote for Rand Paul. If I lived in Kentucky and had a choice to vote for Rand Paul now, based on what I know, I probably wouldn’t vote for him.
The main reason I would vote for libertarians is so that they could spread the gospel. Ron Paul has not been a great Congressman because he has affected legislation. He has been great because he has educated millions of people.
I don’t trust people running for political office unless they can prove to me otherwise. I won’t vote for someone who is pandering, unless he is a really good panderer on behalf of liberty. I want to see consistency. I want to see specifics offered in the way of dramatic spending cuts. This goes for the presidential election, congressional elections, and even local elections.
I have not decided what I will do this November. The one thing I am certain of is that I won’t be voting for Romney or Obama. I am debating between 4 choices at this point:
1) Vote for Gary Johnson.
2) Vote for Ron Paul (as a write-in candidate).
3) Stay home.
4) Get a ballot and turn it in blank.
There is a strategy behind number 4. It is different than staying home. I don’t want to not vote and have people interpret that as apathy. I am not apathetic. I care about what the government does in that I want it to do much less. If I drive to my voting place and get a ballot and turn it in blank, there is no mistaking that for apathy. Some might call it stupid, but they can’t say that I didn’t care.
I think “none of the above” (NOTA) should be an option on every ballot. Since that is not listed, then turning in a blank ballot is the next best thing. If anyone else has a better idea, I’d love to hear it.