The relatively inconspicuous task of voting doesn’t seem to arouse much suspicion of a moral dilemma in most people — myself included. Virtually the only thing all of our party élites seem to agree on is that everyone should vote no matter who it is that they vote for. It seems to most people therefore, as not only a relatively innocent act, but even as a moral obligation.
Wendy McElroy sees it differently.
In this entirely engaging and interesting recent talk, Ms. McElroy gives a compelling argument exploring both moral and other reasons why we shouldn’t cast a ballot (or why we should spoil our ballots) in certain elections.
I am a regular voter, and I do plan on voting this Tuesday in the Canadian federal election, but the argument presented by Ms. McElroy is not silly. In fact, Ms. McElroy’s argument is serious enough that I believe every responsible voter must address the argument one way or another even if one plans to continue voting in the future. Ms. McElroy approaches her argument from a peculiar version of the anarchist school of thought rather than the Marxist and socialist schools of thought which I tend to emphasize here at Paulitics. Unfortunately, however, this brand of anarchism is anarcho-capitalism which I strongly disagree with. That said, I assure my regular traditional leftist readers that there is no element of pro-capitalist rhetoric in this particular conversation and I believe that regular anarchists, Marxists and left liberals can and should all give Ms. McElroy’s argument a serious airing.
Ms. McElroy’s arguments about voting as legitimizing élite-controlled democracy — or what we leftists used to more commonly refer to as bourgeois democracy — I find very compelling. On the other hand I was relatively unconvinced by the implication in her argument that voters who elect a government remain morally responsible for the authoritarian acts of said government even if they later withdrawn any moral or political support from the candidate or party in question. For me, activism, agitation, disruption, organization and other subversive acts in between elections can absolve a voter from the moral culpability of electing an odious government into power.
But, nevertheless, I strongly encourage any regular Paulitics reader and any potential voter to listen to Wendy McElroy’s talk below before they consider voting.