Voting. Do You Feel Empowered? I Feel More Hopeless than Usual.

Ah the ceremonial handing off of the whip. Every two years all us slaves get to choose a new master, or decide to keep the old one. And we all talk about how much change is needed on the plantation, and how my preferred slave master will change it for the better.

Two years and 540 posts, and I only feel I have accelerated the inevitable exasperated disenfranchisement I feel with our political system. And all the “freedom loving” Americans are thrilled the GOP might retake the Senate. And then… repeal Obamacare? Reduce the debt? Give power back to the states? Lower taxes? Reign in the corrupt police state? Get us out of world police duty? Look into the Federal Reserve? Get rid of the IRS? Repeal the NDAA? Cut the DHS?

Yeah, maybe! LOL. I know, Obama can still veto. But the last time we had a Republican House, Republican Senate, and Republican President, we got the Patriot Act, the TSA, the Department of Homeland Security, increased spending and debt, and bought enough military equipment for the US Military, ISIS, Al-qaeda, Syria, Egypt, Libya, and local police departments to all share.

To Vote or Not to Vote, That is the Question

So I am torn. Do I vote for the slave master who promises to shorten the fence, and make it easier to escape? Or do I refrain from voting, to show the slave masters that I do not sanction their force? The former may not even happen if I do vote: “Oh sorry, I tried to get the fence shortened, but half you slaves voted for that higher fence master, oh well, maybe next time if you vote for my friends”. But the latter could land me with an even higher fence, longer work hours, more lashings etcetera etcetera.

This is a debate anarcho-leaners have amongst themselves. Is it better to vote and hopefully change things for the better, or is it better to show you don’t approve of the system by not voting? It is indeed unlikely that anything will change for the better, and even if it does change, it may only prolong our slavery. Part of me thinks I should vote for my least favorite candidates just to hasten the process!

I’ve already decided, I will be voting this year. I don’t have enough time to fully debate this in my head in order to arrive at the best answer. Bill Buppert would say I am sanctioning my masters, and George Carlin would agree:

I firmly believe that if you vote, you have no right to complain. Now, some people like to twist that around. They say, ‘If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain,’ but where’s the logic in that? If you vote, and you elect dishonest, incompetent politicians, and they get into office and screw everything up, you are responsible for what they have done. You voted them in. You caused the problem. You have no right to complain. I, on the other hand, who did not vote — who did not even leave the house on Election Day — am in no way responsible for what these politicians have done and have every right to complain about the mess that you created.

And honestly, it’s hard to argue with that. If you don’t vote, everything that happens is simply being done to you. It is the ultimate injustice. You have sanctioned no masters, you have agreed to no contract, yet people will bust down your door and take your money, maybe kill you, perhaps block you from pursuing happiness, but will certainly tell you what you can and cannot do, regardless of if you have wronged anyone. And by extension, you have done that to people if the politician you voted for puts that into action.

Of course this would all be solved if there was a “none of the above” option, or “middle finger” option on the ballot as I so eloquently worded it on Facebook. Then I would be happy to go down to the polls and tell them all, “I choose no master”. That is what I pathetically attempt to do with my vote. Vote for the guys who will reduce government. But that also begs the question, is there anyone who will really reduce government in my life?

I have this fantasy that someday anarchists will be running for office, and they will repeal, repeal, repeal until there is nothing left of our government, then sell the government property off, and rebate the money to the people from whom it was stolen.

Part of me wants to run for some office as an anarchist. In addition to being quite the laugh, I might get the message out to some people. And imagine the hilarity that would ensue if I actually got elected!

Sorry for the conversational tone and lack of continuity in this post, but this is what election day does to my head. It is like trying to trick me into thinking I could possible do something to attain more freedom today. And it is indeed possible. It is also possible that I win big next time I go to Foxwoods… but we all know the odds are stacked in favor of the house.

In closing, I’m going to borrow from the Facebook group Nobody For President.

Vote Nobody for President, 2016!

Nobody will keep their campaign promises!

Nobody will reduce the debt, stop the wars, and lower taxes!

Nobody puts the voter first!

Nobody really cares about you!

So vote for Nobody this election cycle, because with Nobody in office, we may finally get the change we need!

500th Post: Let Me Define “Vigilant” and “Vote”

This is the 500th post I have made to Vigilant Vote in the 2 years and one month since I created it. As all things should, this blog has transformed in some ways from its original version and purpose. Through researching, thinking, and writing, my opinions have altered, new information has changed perceptions, and my goals for how I would like to influence people have shifted. That is why I want to spend the five hundredth post defining what Vigilant Vote means.

The original name came from a famous quote, attributed to a couple people, but probably existing in its original form in President Andrew Jackson’s farewell address (emphasis added): “But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing. It behooves you, therefore, to be watchful in your States, as well as in the Federal Government”. I added that since Andrew Jackson had faults, it was a further reminder that actions mean more than rhetoric.

Boiled down the tag line for my blog became Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty. For a while the theme of this blog followed that within a relatively narrow scope, in terms of how it related to government. I discussed issues with government policies, and how those policies could be improved. I discussed what the scope of government should be, the incentives and disincentives they create, and why an economy is best left alone by government. The more I learned, the more I realized that not only should the government stay out of economics, but they should stay out of everything.

This feeling was expanded on when I was introduced to Anarcho-Capitalism; a scary sounding idea which really just means people can organize themselves just fine without government using force to do the organizing. The reason this would be more beneficial for societal organization is because there would be no contradictions to a core philosophy that most people agree with: the golden rule, do unto others as you would have them do to you, the non-initiation of force principle, non-agression principle. And this foundation cannot support a house built from a different blue print: one that says initiating force in a particular geographical area is okay for an entity called government. If using force to organize is never okay, then government is never okay.

So this brought me to the point where on essentially every government issue my answer was, it should not be a government function, and the market would better take care of it. There were plenty of different arguments to make to this effect, various examples and facts to present, and numerous plans to put forward for alternative organization to achieve the same end, but it all came down to allowing these things to be solved through mutually beneficial transactions. I think these discussions still have a place, and I will continue to explain how current problems involving government could be better solved by a free market.

However this shifting paradigm of how much scope I believe government should have (from limited to none) has also necessarily changed my advice on how best to solve these issues. The Vote in Vigilant Vote once quite literally meant vote in elections to make things better. I still think voting can make things better, but it cannot be the thing we rely on to make positive change in the world. Let me use this landmark of 500 posts on Vigilant Vote to define what it means to be Vigilant, and what it means to Vote, in a broadened definition of the title Vigilant Vote.

“Vigilant”. Pay attention, research, learn, reason, be aware, seek understanding, seek truth, gain knowledge, gain skills. Being vigilant now means more to me than simply paying attention to what the government is doing. It means recognizing the repercussions of this, how vastly effected we are by the ills created, and what influences government has on the broader society. And then it doesn’t stop with government: we need to also make sure the businesses we patronize agree with our philosophy and values. For that matter, being vigilant means having values, setting goals, and working towards something.

It also means being vigilant over oneself. Are the actions I am taking consistent with my philosophy? For me, as I would hope is similar for most people, victimizing someone is wrong, initiating force against another is wrong. Am I aware of how each of my actions are affecting other people? And before this gets too preachy, let me say this is a constant work in progress for all of us. We are not perfect, and maybe we never will be, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for better and better. And that’s where Vote comes in.

“Vote”. You vote with your dollar, you vote with your actions and interactions. Voting is the action side of being vigilant. I once received some profound knowledge from a fortune cookie: “The proper fruit of knowledge, is action”. Gain knowledge, take action. Be vigilant, then vote. So if you see something wrong with the world, do something about it. If something seems fishy, look into it, research it, and then figure how best to move forward to effect the change you want to see.

The idea of being Vigilant and Voting fit well, because one without the other is relatively useless. If you are Vigilant, well that’s great, you could have all the knowledge in the world, and have the perfect plan to change things for the better; but if you don’t act on that, what’s the point?

On the other hand, acting without a point can be seriously damaging to society. You hear it every election, “get out the vote”. Well why would we want uninformed or misinformed people to be making governing decisions? That’s democracy, voting without the vigilance. And as with the other aspects, it goes way beyond voting in elections. Taking actions, voting with yourself and your dollars, will achieve no end if you do not define the end you wish to realize, and have the proper knowledge (vigilance) to get there.

I’ve shifted over the last two years from focusing mainly on political issues that are in the news, and analyzing how to act on them, to taking a broader philosophical look at what government really does, the consequences of government actions, and why the defining feature of government, monopolizing force so that it can be initiated without retaliation in a certain area, is inherently wrong.

We can argue any single issue until the cows come home, but without some philosophy behind your ideas and actions, the real change this country and earth needs will not take place. And if you are arguing with someone whose core ideas about life are different than yours, what change do you think you can make in them? We need to start from the point of discussing and agreeing on goals, and realizing that if there is no philosophical grounding for a person’s thoughts and actions, then having them vote for “our party”, or agree with this issue or that issue will be fleeting progress, erased when the next smooth talker convinces the person to think and act oppositely on the issue.

Be Vigilant: seek the truth. Vote: act on that truth.

A Libertarian “No” on Question 2

By Jen Lade

On Tuesday, Massachusetts voters will face a ballot question that would legalize physician-assisted suicide in the Commonwealth. Question 2 would enact the proposed “Death With Dignity” act, which would allow terminally ill people given less than six months to live the option to get a prescription for a lethal dose of a drug.

Proponents of the bill are giving all manner of emotional arguments for how lovely and dignified it would be if Grandma could off herself at her leisure. Many opponents have an equally emotional response: suicide is disturbing, and its legalization points to a pretty messed up society.

But beyond the emotions of the issue, there are some truths that make the so-called Death With Dignity act a horrible idea.

First, there are the flaws with the law’s safeguards. An heir or caregiver can serve as a witness when the patient makes a written request for the medication. Furthermore, no physician needs to be present when the lethal dose is taken. A patient could easily be pressured into requesting and then ingesting the drugs, or worse, the drugs could be administered against the patient’s will by someone else, since no doctor needs to be present.

Patients do not even need to see a psychiatrist before getting the drug. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that many people who have been given six months to live (and such a prognosis is guesswork, by the way) are going to be depressed. Why not treat the depression first and see if that makes them rethink killing themselves? Why not require a consultation for palliative care, which can eliminate pain at the end of life?

And of course, there are the slippery slope arguments: assisted suicide simply opens the door for euthanasia; for insurance companies denying claims for treatment but being more than happy to pay for a lethal dose of a drug; for a decline in the quality of palliative care; and for state-sanctioned suicide to lead to a higher suicide rate overall, as it has in Oregon, where assisted suicide is already legal.

As someone who identifies strongly with libertarian ideals, I at first struggled with how I could justify opposition to this act on a purely political level. After all, shouldn’t adults be able to decide for themselves how to live their lives (or in this case, end their lives), as long as it does not infringe on someone else’s rights? But the fact of the matter is, this is a poorly-written law that leaves the elderly and the infirm vulnerable to abuse. What is being cast by supporters as the epitome of freedom and choice could in fact become a way for the terminally ill to be killed outright, or at least coerced into killing themselves. Just the fact that assisted suicide is an option could guilt a terminally ill person to conclude that the decent thing to do would be to take the drugs and stop burdening their loved ones.

And, on a very morbid level, committing suicide is already possible, even easy, without this act. Leave it to the government to stick its nose into the business of killing yourself. A hose in the tailpipe isn’t enough for the bureaucrats; it’s not dignified until it’s government-sanctioned.

This Web site has additional information and editorials that add to the body of evidence that this act cannot be allowed to pass.

Massachusetts voters, vote No on Question 2. As for the rest of the country, stay vigilant. You never know when assisted suicide could be coming to a state near you.

[Click here to read about the Congressional race for MA-4: Bielat vs. Kennedy]