The Value of Voting - by Mark E. Smith

[Note to Kindle users: The original version of the Kindle edition of Consent to Tyranny had an incorrect URL for the link to the Fubar discussion of "The Counterrevolutionary Constitution." The correct URL is A revised and corrected edition will be published soon.]


During a long discussion on one of his forums, long-term Democratic Party organizer and former Democrat Congressional candidate Ray Lutz accused me of being opposed to voting. This was my response:


A democratic system of government is one in which power is vested in the hands of the people. That's the dictionary definition and even Ray agreed to it.

An undemocratic system of government is one in which power is vested in the hands of the government. That government could be a dictatorship, a monarchy, a plutocracy, an oligarchy, or even a pseudo-democracy, but if power is vested in the hands of the government rather than in the hands of the people, the system does not meet the definition of a democratic form of government.
In a democratic form of government, where power is vested in the hands of the people, voting is the most precious right of all, as it is the way that the people exercise the power vested in them, either directly by voting on issues, budgets, and policies, or indirectly by voting for representatives who are obligated to represent their constituents and can be directly recalled by the people at any time that they fail to represent the people who elected them.
In an undemocratic form of government, where power is vested in the hands of the government rather than in the hands of the people, voting is totally worthless and a waste of time, as the people do not have power and the government doesn't have to count their votes, can miscount and/or ignore their votes, can overrule the popular vote, and elected representatives are not obligated to represent their constituents but can represent their personal beliefs or philosophies, their big donors, or whatever they wish, and cannot be held accountable as long as they continue in office, which is the only time that people need them to represent the interests of the people. 
In an undemocratic form of government, voters can hope that their votes might be counted, can hope that their elected officials might represent them, but have no power to ensure that their votes are counted or that their elected officials actually represent them.
The system makes all the difference. As an analogy, breathing is a good thing and we humans couldn't survive without being able to breathe. But underwater or in a toxic environment filled with lethal gas, breathing can bring about death more quickly than holding one's breath and trying to escape. Breathing isn't always a good thing, it is only a good thing in an environment with oxygen suitable for human life. 
The same is true of voting. In a democratic system, voting is precious and essential. In an undemocratic system, it can be fatal, as it can allow the destruction of the economy, military adventurism, obstacles to basic human rights such as jobs, education, food, clothing, shelter, and health care, and other tragic consequences of allowing government to exercise uncontrolled power rather than vesting power in the hands of the people.
Most people in the US today are opposed to our government's ongoing wars of aggression. Even those who are uninformed and uneducated, who aren't aware that historically, the way that most empires fell was because they became militarily overextended, sense that there is something wrong with spending trillions of dollars on foreign wars while basic domestic needs go unmet. But because we do not have a democratic system of government, we have no power to end the wars. The best we can do is vote for candidates we hope might end the wars, but if, like Obama, they expand the wars instead of ending them, there is nothing we can do about it because our government has the power to start or end wars and we do not. If wars were on the ballot, it could only be as a nonbinding referendum, as there is no Constitutional way to force the government to obey the will of the people. The Constitution vested power in the government rather than in the hands of the people.
I do not oppose voting any more than I oppose breathing. I oppose voting only when it occurs within an undemocratic form of government, thus legitimizing an undemocratic form of government and consenting to be governed undemocratically, just as I oppose breathing only when in a toxic or anaerobic environment where breathing can be fatal. Just as I would want to try to help anyone trapped in a toxic or anaerobic environment hold their breath until they could escape, I want to try to help people trapped in an undemocratic form of government withhold their votes until they can escape. If I tell a drowning person to hold their breath until they can get their head above water, I am not condemning breathing. If I tell people not to vote until they have a democratic form of government, I am not condemning voting. In both cases, I am trying to preserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and to promote the general welfare.

I might be allowed to speak tonight.

Activist San Diego is having a free speech night with every speaker allowed between 3 and 4 minutes. I wrote to them a few days ago asking permission to speak but got no response. Today I see in their email announcing the event, that I appear to be listed as a speaker.

That gave me very little time to prepare, but I'm always ready to talk about not voting. I prepared and timed my little talk last night and I'll post it below. I'm also making copies of the main points in our lead article and bringing it along as a handout. Wish me luck!



Proposed Talk - September 19, 2011, Activist San Diego
There's a big protest on Wall Street in New York right now and another big protest planned for Washington, D.C. In both cases the protesters plan to stay as long as it takes. As long as it takes for what? If you followed events in Egypt you know that it means as long as it takes for many to declare victory at the first sign of a concession and go home, many others to get arrested, and the few left to be driven out by the cops.
Our government doesn't want to be deprived of power. The bigger the protests, the more money it spends on crowd control. A million people may gather, but most can't stay more than a few weeks or months. The rest can be assaulted, a few hundred or thousand at a time, with those new high-tech sound or heat weapons that disable people and make them earier to cart off to jails or holding pens. The fact is that the government has more staying power than protesters do.
But how did our government get the power to do something as unconstitutional as deny us our rights to assembly and free speech? The answer is we gave them that power when we voted. Most voters think that they're voting for political parties, candidates, or issues, but who or what they vote for doesn't matter to the government. US elections offer a choice of personalities or opinions, but they do not allow us to exercise power. All we can do is vote for those who will exercise power. The only reason our government holds elections is so that it can claim to have legitimate power through the consent of the governed. No matter who or what you vote for, your vote is your consent to allow people you can't hold accountable to govern you. And to use violence against you if you protest.
Half of us already don't vote, not out of apathy but because we don't believe that a plutocracy can represent our interests. The first step in noncompliance is to stop voting. Only with our consent can the government legitimately beat, mace, and arrest us for protesting. Once we withdraw our consent and stop voting, it can still do those things, but the world will know that it has no legitimacy. It wasn't violence or public pressure but a successful election boycott in South Africa that forced the US government to withdraw its support for the Apartheid regime. First take away their legitimate power, then protest. If you protest first, you'll always lose because you've already delegated your power to the very government you're trying to protest.
Voting isn't exercising your power, voting is delegating your power, giving it away. If that's not your intention, please stop doing it. Thank you.

I kinda wish I could be there

Good luck and sock it to em! Do not allow interruptions.

Thanks, rossi.

They've got more speakers now, so less times for each and I had to trim it down. I'll edit the above accordingly.

I think I did well.

Don't know that I convinced anyone, but I made a lot of copies of the article above along with Fubar's lead article (the one I've got pinned at the top of our home page), and handed them out, so that should give some people food for thought. Long bus rides, long evening, folkie's tired. 

There were many good speakers and all good causes, but since the world only has one superpower responsible for most of the evil these days, I still think delegitimizing it is the first step towards accomplishing anything else. It's great to be against war, but even if we managed to end one war, our government would probably start six more to keep those defense contracts rolling along. It's great to help the homeless, but as long as our government can decide to spend money on wars instead of jobs and housing, the government will create more homelessness more quickly than it can be remedied. 

I think I asked a key question at the beginning of my talk--as long as it takes for what? In Egypt their goal was to get rid of Mubarak, and they accomplished it, but they had no further goal, so they were left with a "revolutionary government" that was the old Mubarak regime only worse. Most didn't think about taking power or changing the power structure in Egypt, they just wanted a more benevolent dictator.

Power isn't dependent upon voting, but its legitimacy is. Since the US has rejected all laws, treaties, and common decency, I don't know if legitimacy even matters any more. Theoretically though, delegitimizing our government could strengthen the global resistance against it, so it certainly wouldn't hurt. Maybe it would even help. I do know that if we don't do it, things will continue to get worse.

Link to why we shouldn't vote.

This link needs to be posted here for people who read this article first and haven't read the other one:

Another brick wall

"Get out the Vote!" he says.

No! Wrong! It's "get out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Africa & the Middle East!" Just get out! Save $$ BILLIONS $$ !! Of course, I'm under-exaggerating. To vote for either wing of the war party is a crime. By voting for either wing, you say "okay, stay there, kill more and keep looking for more to kill in other far regions, it's quite alright with have my full support!" Now that's not alright, is it?


Yup, thick as a brick.

And just as stubborn.  ;)


"To vote for either wing of the war party is a crime"

That needs to be a bumper sticker...

More than a bumper sticker, Turtle.

It is the truth and it needs to be a universally accepted truth.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Discussion Forum