Blogs > Liberty and Power > A Vote Answer

Feb 19, 2004 2:56 pm

A Vote Answer

To answer David Beito's and Pat Lynch's questions:

I don't think voting is terribly important as a strategy for libertarians, at least in comparison with education and the like. However, I do vote.

I don't think voting is immoral, since I accept Lysander Spooner's argument that voting counts as self-defense rather than as a sanction of the system. (See also Herbert Spencer's discussion, as well as my critique of voluntaryist anti-voting arguments.)

Nor do I think voting is irrational; if the rational-choice argument against voting worked, it would also prove that it's irrational to try to walk across the room, because no individual step is of any use unless it is followed by all the other steps, and no step by itself can guarantee that it will in fact be followed by other steps.

I always vote for the Libertarian candidate when there is one, not as a means to the end of electing him or her (since that has not been a realistic goal in any election in which I've voted) but as a means toward enhancing the prominence of the movement. (And the smaller the number of people voting for a particular candidate, the larger the difference each of those individual votes makes.)

Is Russo the ideal person to represent the LP? Does he have the professionalism and credibility of a Harry Browne or a Ron Paul? In my judgment, no. Browne and Paul came across like statesmen; Russo comes across like a Hollywood producer -- unsurprisingly, since that's what he is. Not knowing much about the other candidates for the nomination, I don't know who I would support if I were a delegate to the nominating convention. But I'm not a delegate, so that choice isn't mine to make.

In the upcoming election I currently prefer Kerry to Bush, but since the odds of Kerry's losing by a single vote are effectively zero, I'm not worried about splitting the anti-Bush vote by voting for a third-party candidate; and I'm more interested in making a tiny contribution to the long-term growth of the libertarian movement than in making a much much tinier contribution to the short-term victory of a lesser evil. Thus I expect to vote for the Libertarian candidate, whether it's Russo or someone else. But I certainly have no quarrel with any libertarian who chooses to vote for Kerry, or not to vote at all.

I do have a quarrel with any libertarian who votes for Bush. What could be the libertarian case for Bush? Even if we leave aside his warmongering, and his horrendous record on civil liberties -- he's not even a fiscal conservative! He may favour slightly lower taxes in the short term than do most Democrats, but his massive explosion in Federal spending can only mean higher taxes in the long term.

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