my right not to vote

wow. well, i didn’t vote today, in a deliberate decision, although it was something i had thought about and planned on not doing for awhile. i’ve had people (directly or indirectly) try to guilt me and shame me and tell me that i’m doing exactly what the politicians want, and that i’m shirking my civic duty. i’m well aware of what my ancestors and people before me went through so i could have the right to vote. people went through lynchings and being blasted by fire hoses and having to take crazy-ass literacy tests and unrelenting beatings and verbal humiliation; you may or may not believe me, but i do understand the magnitude of their sacrifices. lives were lost and other lives forever changed so i could go to my local polling place today and vote.

however, i would like to think that their lives were lost so that i could also have the right not to vote. this is the first election that i have conscientiously sat out on. i called myself a libertarian for a number of years, faithfully voting for libertarian party candidates at every level since 1996 (with a notable exception for president in 2000. sigh.). however, with each passing year, i grew disenfranchised with the lp, but not because i disagreed with what they believed in. i think they are putting all of their eggs in the wrong baskets. libertarians have been called nothing more than ‘republicans who want to smoke pot’; there has always been this huge push to see marijuana legalized. and i agree completely with that. i don’t see any logical reason why marijuana shouldn’t be legalized and regulated similarly to alcohol. but, most americans don’t see it that way, and if that’s going to be your major focus, you will immediately turn the majority of voters away. focus on less government, more civil liberties, and they could put the tea party out of business. another thing that really bugs me about the lp is what i see as an inordinate amount of attention given towards the lp putting a presidential candidate on the ballot. they could take a lesson from the tea party and work at more of a grass roots level with local candidates. i realize there are many libertarians already holding local offices across the country, but you’re not even hearing about libertarians being serious contenders for seats in the u.s. congress like current tea party candidates are, let alone the presidency.

so i still agree with most issues in the lp platform, but at best i could be described as an independent who thinks partisan politics are for the birds. really, democrats and republicans, the two major acceptable political parties in the country, are two sides of the same coin. tea party republicans notwithstanding, the major differences between the two are their differing views on abortion, and republicans are slightly more conservative fiscally than democrats (but moving more to the left every day). that’s pretty much it.

after much thought and mental exploration, i’ve decided to just stop voting. i hate to use this tired cliché, but the lesser of two evils is still evil. i can’t in good conscience vote for someone i don’t agree with, just so someone even less in line with my beliefs doesn’t get into office. i also firmly believe that to vote would mean that i consent to whatever the election results are, even if ‘my side’ loses. what if ‘my side’ is nearly just as wrong? mccain vs. obama, seriously? i’m supposed to pick a side here? i’m supposed to vote for obama because we share the same skin color? i’m supposed to vote for mccain because he was a prisoner of war for a number of years? in the meantime, what changes for me (and most other americans) in either case? nothing, except for my personal freedoms being eroded little by little, perhaps a little bit slower if mccain had won.

i honestly believe that those who went before me, those who died so i could go and vote today, would understand my deliberate decision not to vote. today i had people tell me that my not voting was playing directly into politicians’ hands, but i think the opposite is true. best case scenario, voting is being allowed to choose who you want to run your life. i say *you* are best at running your own life, and if you truly believe that, you have every right not to vote, and every right to complain about the results.

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2 responses to “my right not to vote

  1. I went Independent a few years ago. But then, this is not uncommon in NH.

  2. Hey there. Great post. I too agree that there aren’t many differences between republicans and democrats. One party, two heads. I voted green party in this election. I used to consider myself a libertarian as well until I started thinking more about free markets and my desire to become a librarian (librarian not libertarian). Libraries are market failures; they do not work on the free market, because they disseminate ALL information, not just profitable information. I consider myself an anti-capitalist, anti-federalist, maybe anarchist, I don’t know. I do believe in less central government and more local government and municipalities. Anyway, although I do not support your decision not to vote, I do understand it, and it makes me question why I vote as well — when the change I want is impossible from any candidate I vote for, Green or not.

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