Thursday, November 6, 2008


Today I conclude my series on why I believe we should be grateful for the right to vote and why I believe we should exercise that right even in national elections where our vote cannot possibly affect the outcome, at least, not directly.

In national elections it was Frank Chodorov who said that we should not vote because voting gives legitimacy to the government. He cited the Soviet Union with its record (at that time) of a 98% participation in elections, even though in most cases, there was not only no opposition party but not even opposing candidates from the Communist Party. I have a different take on that situation than Mr. Chodorov. I believe that they were simply trying to show that they were a better "democracy" than the so-called democracies in the western world. In almost exactly the same way, the Soviets built model stores, housing complexes, hotels, and other buildings with the sole purpose to impress visitors that they were as good or better than the US.

I will never forget my own experience in East Berlin several years before the fall of the Wall. I went, along with several other American tourists on a guided tour of East Berlin. At the end of the tour we were taken down a street with beautiful new apartment buildings. At the end of the block there was a large hotel. As we pulled into the drive-in circle and came out of the bus, we saw the man in the large Mercedes in front of our bus toss his keys to a valet who proceeded to drive the car around the hotel into what we assumed was the parking terrace. When we got into the hotel it was a bee-hive of activity. We entered the stunningly decorated, spacious lobby with a huge, wide staircase leading, we assumed, to the hotel suites. As we entered people were coming down the staircase and approaching the desk. As it was their turn they demanded to be given reservations to various other cities in Europe. Others were announcing that they had just arrived from some place in Europe and wished to be shown to their rooms. I didn't feel too well so I stepped out of the hotel and sat down on the front step. Our guide followed me and in somewhat of an alarmed voice demanded to know what I was doing. I said I didn't feel too well and just needed to get some fresh air. She said that would be OK but instructed me not to leave the hotel premises and asked that I go to the gift shop as soon as I felt better. I had planned to do that but after a few minutes I became fascinated with the fact that no one either came in or left the hotel. No car, no person, no taxis, nothing. In the 45 minutes I sat on the stair, until we left to return to West Berlin no one or no thing entered or left that hotel. It dawned on. The whole thing was a gigantic act. The people running up to the desk were not tourists, they were actors. I suspect that the nice apartments on the rest of the street were exactly like the dreary, run-down apartment houses that we had seen in the rest of East Berlin, only with a nice facade. But the point is that just because they wanted us to think that they had luxurious hotels, appealing and comfortable residential housing and probably other things had we gone on a more extensive tour, does not mean that those things are bad. We wouldn't destroy our hotels because the Soviets wanted them. Likewise, just because the Soviets wanted us to think they had a better or real democracy by requiring a large voter turn-out, is certainly no reason for us not to vote.

In my opinion the single biggest reason to cherish our right to vote is because it is almost the only vestige of our governmental system that adhers to the political creed: "all men are created equal". Indeed, I suspect, that that is the primary reason that so many libertarians, like Mr. Boudreaux are so opposed to voting. Mr. Boudreaux acknowledges that he is a skeptic, i. e. he does not even believe that "all men are created" much less that they are created equal. For the skeptic, no matter what his pretensions, man is an accident and it takes an angel, in which, of course, skeptics do not believe, to believe anything but that he is a fortunate accident and everyone else is a less fortunate accident and most are a catastrophe. In the case of Mr. Boudreaux, we know from his article that not only does he believe himself to be better than others, but better than most others combined. He says in his article, "I implicitly agree--by voting--that the process of selecting people to exercise power over me is legitimate". In other words, he does not feel that he should be subject rules at any level of government. He is to be the sole determiner of what is right and what is wrong for himself, at least.

The right to vote tells us that in the eyes of the law I am as valuable as the next man, and he, in turn, is as valuable as me. We need, therefore, in my opinion, to cling to this last vestige of equality before the law.

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