Why I will not vote for myself

Special note: If you cannot print the entire essay, please do not print it at all. Each paragraph contributes significantly to my argument.

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Why I will not vote for myselfby Brian Drake

After securing the Libertarian Party’s nomination for the office of State Representative, my thoughts turned to garnering the greatest number of votes on November 5. I identified catchy issues and devised methods for presenting the libertarian case. I built a web site. I purchased a large “briandrake.com” sticker for my car, turning it into a mobile billboard. I ordered business cards — the ones with a waving American flag because it looked patriotic. And voters like patriotic candidates.

I was excited about the idea of running my very own campaign for public office. I was tired of talk; I was ready for action. I wanted to reveal to the world — well, to the constituents of state house district fifteen, anyway — that liberty is the ultimate political goal. My way of reaching for the goal was to attract the greatest number of voters. I wanted to persuade people to vote for me, Brian Drake, the Libertarian candidate. I thought that if I wrote enough letters to the editor, if I talked to enough people, if I presented my case well enough, I might just get ten percent of the vote.

I took it for granted that I would be one of the ten percenters. However, I recently made a bold decision: I will not vote for myself on November 5, nor will I vote in any other political election. Ever.

Let me explain. My campaign is rooted in two fundamental concepts: (1) you own your life; and (2) the initiation of force is wrong. To deny the first premise is to imply that another person has a higher claim on your life than you do. The second premise follows from the first. Because you own your life, others may not forcefully interfere with it; because another person owns his or her life, you may not forcefully interfere with it, either. From these concepts emerged my limited government political lenses, which convinced me that the problem is not with the political system itself, but with the people exploiting it. I saw government power as a double-edged sword, capable of both good and evil. Thus, I reasoned, it is imperative to participate vigorously in the political system in order to correct it.

I remember my first election. The Republican primaries were held a few months after my eighteenth birthday, so by the time they rolled around I was charged with anticipation. I remember the signs along Grogan’s Mill Road encouraging me to stop and perform my civic responsibility. I parked my car, marched into the Community Center, presented my card, and received my first ballot.

I looked over the list of candidates. The first thought that ran through my head: “Who are these people?” I saw one name that I recognized from church, so I picked him. The other races — I was clueless — but that was okay. I faced no moral responsibility for what an officeholder did or failed to do. I have no idea who won in the primaries, who won in November, nor can I name a single thing one of those people have done while in office. I fulfilled my part of the deal by choosing the candidate with the phonically superior name. I did not realize it until much later, but voting is a terrific way to initiate force and then shirk all responsibility for it.

Despite popular rhetoric, democracy is not synonymous with freedom. Taking something without permission is theft, but not when the majority goes along with it and calls it taxation. Matters that should be of no interest to any other person (i.e., what a person chooses to do with his or her body) become matters of public policy when the majority says so. The recipe is fairly straightforward. All you have to do is appoint someone else to initiate force on your behalf, get enough people to pick the same candidate, and then hide behind the waving banner of free and open elections. The syllogism goes something like: The initiation of force is wrong, so I cannot initiate force without punishment. Democratic elections are good. If I help to elect someone to public office, then he or she initiates force on my behalf.

I can no longer go along with it. I cannot participate in a system that promotes force under the guise of majority-rules and a perverted sense of freedom. This is why on November 5 I will not vote in any election, including my own. But if you must vote, vote for me, Brian Drake, the Libertarian candidate.

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