October 31, 2012
What a vile system, this vaunted democracy. A system that, for the most part, allows the marginal voter, the voter who really does not care about the outcome, and so flips and flops continually through election day, to decide who thieves my liberty and property.
Consider the local levy on my ballot next Tuesday. On one side stand the supporters of the levy: the fire department, township trustees, and associated cheerleaders – those who desire to gain at my expense. On the other side stand folks like me – those who simply want our wallets to remain unmolested this go-around.
So we stand off, both sides staring each other down. Who decides the matter? Ironically, that decision is made by the neighbor who cannot formulate an opinion on the issue until the ballot is in front of him. And even then, his opinion is fleeting, with the issue that swirled around in his head undecided even after he casts his ballot – since he really does not care about the outcome, he is never certain he voted correctly, from his view, that is.
As a class, these marginal voters will, through a momentary mental coin flip, judge for all the merits of that which they are unable to judge for themselves. But if they do not really care about the outcome, why do they vote? They vote on the levy (for or against) in obedience to their god, Democracy.
Regardless of the harm they may cause me should they cast a yes vote, from their perspective, it is far better to vote for a levy – theft – than to not vote at all.
If the local levy and its win/lose proposition are not evil enough, consider the presidential election and its lose/lose proposition.
For whatever reason, the electorate divides itself between those who, under tribal passions, reflexively vote Democrat or Republican, those who pretend they can divine the future and claim to be able to make the rational decision between parties and candidate, and those who never make up their minds, though vote nonetheless.
These marginal voters switch between candidates on matters as meaningless as debate performances or minor gaffs. And they tend to regret their vote once cast. But it is their collective choice that decides the election and crowns the next emperor.
And this is a just system? A rational system?
In a free market, those at the margin perform an essential task. It is their individual decisions to enter or abstain from buying and selling in the market that decide future prices. Their choices direct scarce resources toward the desired wants of consumers. But the choice is not A or B, the choice is A or B or C, or any of a number of choices, limited only by man’s imagination and the then-current capital structure.
The decision is not Pepsi or Coke for the next four years. The decision is the factor pricing that leads to the enjoyment of Pepsi, Coke, RC, apple pies, and automobiles by all. And that decision is subject to recall votes on a daily basis.
But the ballot is different. Both presidential candidates have designs for my money and my freedom. One side may tilt toward taking more freedom than money, but neither candidate desires to return either. And in all of this, the guy who has no real interest in the matter decides the issue – a man who is more concerned about returning to regular programming than understanding the concepts of liberty and property.
In my house, I favor Pepsi, while my wife favors Coke. In fact, I will not drink Coke. So an electoral win for Coke is a loss for me. But instead of letting my juice toting neighbor decide which pop we drink, we buy both and are happy. We both can choose and neither loses.
Of course, the market is voluntary while politics are force. So the marginal voter, on a whim, hands the gun to one of two thieves. While the margin serves a purpose in politics, that purpose is pernicious.
It is true that the dime’s worth of difference between the candidates was taken from my pocket, so I will not vote for president. I care deeply about the issues, but I recognize that even the lesser of the evils will not return from DC that which is mine. And I am not under the spell of some tribal meme or so beholden to the god of democracy to believe that I must force Pepsi on my neighbors. They can drink what they want.
I did not write this article for those like me who do not intend to vote for candidate A or B. I wrote this to encourage those who unquestionably support democracy to take another look. No matter how much they care about an issue, no matter how hard they campaign, no matter how much they give, their future holds a conviction by the juror who slept through the trial.