Why I vote Libertarian
By John Silveira
Issue #138 • November/December, 2012
The general elections are November 6th; before you scoot off to the polls to do your civic duty, I thought I’d give you a few of my thoughts on voting.
First, I’d like to dispense with a voting myth. It recently came up, again, at a barbeque. The conversation momentarily devolved to politics and the hostess said, “The only reason I vote is so I’ll have a right to complain.”
That’s the conventional wisdom, right? We’ve heard it for years. But it’s baloney.
In a nice way, I said to her, “I feel as though those who don’t vote have more right to complain than those who do.”
That got her attention as well as that of a few others.
“After all,” I said, “of people who vote, I’d estimate 98% of them vote for Democrats or Republicans, and it’s the Democrats and Republicans who have been creating the problems that have been stacking up for the last 80 years. I don’t see how you have a right to complain about the problems, if you keep voting for the people who create the problems. Just saying.”
No one said anything, so I added, “Congress currently has a dismal 10% approval rating but an 80% reelection rating. What does that tell you? We elect people to Congress, they create problems, we complain about the problems, then we reelect them. Are we expecting change? People who don’t vote at all have more right to complain about the problems than the people who vote for them again and again.”
The subject changed, but I hoped my little insight might make a difference the next time anyone who listened to me that evening fills out a ballot.
Throwing away my vote
A few years ago a friend told me, “Voting Libertarian,” (which is what I do), “is just throwing your vote away.”
I thought about that for a second, then said, “I don’t want inflation, one war after another that kills young Americans, bailouts of Washington’s Wall Street cronies, an unsustainable Social Security system, huge wasteful bureaucracies, our freedoms taken away, or politicians who ignore the Constitution. Unfortunately, you do.”
He indignantly said, “No, I don’t.”
“Then why do you keep voting for them?” I asked. “It’s the Democrats and Republicans who are creating all these problems. They’ve been doing it for decades, and you keep voting for them. (He actually votes straight Republican.) Now you’re telling me I’m throwing away my vote because I vote for things I really want, but you’re not throwing yours away even though you’re voting for things you don’t want. When did that start making sense to you?”
He didn’t reply. But I’ve noticed over the last few years he’s sounding more libertarian.
I’m afraid of the Democrats…
Last January, a nephew, who’s as libertarian as anyone I know, told me that over the years, he’s persuaded some two dozen guys to vote Libertarian. “But, every time I get in the voting booth, I just can’t bring myself to vote for them because I’m so afraid of the Democrats getting in. At the last minute, I vote for the Republicans.”
I said, “Then you’re part of the problem.”
“What do you mean?”
“As long as the RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) who have a stranglehold on the party — and they’re creating as many problems in this country as the Democrats are — know you’ll vote for them, even though you don’t like them or what they’re doing, you’re giving them zero incentive to change. You and a bunch of others who consider yourselves conservatives repeatedly tell them, with every election, you’ll vote for them, no matter what.”
He admitted he hadn’t thought about that and said this November, he’d vote his conscience. Maybe.
No third parties
The Republican hierarchy claims we shouldn’t try to start a third party (or vote Libertarian); we should work to change the party from inside. But they have already shown they will thwart change at every turn. The truth is, as long as we pursue the elusive chimera called “working from inside,” nothing is going to change. After decades of the party inching relentlessly left, the only thing that will stop them is to send them a clear message: “I’m voting Libertarian.” I’m crazy enough to believe if enough of us do it, and if they want us back badly enough, they’ll have to do the work to undo the changes they’ve made.
Actually, there are a few Republicans to whom I’ll give my support. One is Ron Paul, who was a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, but the special interests have done everything they can to derail him including the apparent rigging of some of the state primaries and caucuses. And there’s a local guy running for Congress, Art Robinson, who sounds like a Libertarian (there are never Democrats, anymore, who sound like Libertarians).
So, this November I’ll vote for the Libertarians and one Republican, and I may even write in Ron Paul because I’d feel foolish voting for the guys who create the problems after all the complaining I’ve done about them.