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Why I Won’t Vote (Part Two) January 27, 2008

Posted by Josef K Buenter in Political Philosophy.

With these two responses I sense the need to quickly proceed to Part II of my point, but I must confess that the plums offered here in these two responses are almost unendurably tempting to pursue instead of continuing in the manner I intended. I doubt I could have summarized as briefly as it was done for me here just why we are played like the pianos we are, with all the predictable results so neatly, and unwittingly detailed with these two contributions responding to my posting.

Although my original intentions were to spell out my philosophical concerns in detail, and then hope for an intellectual sympathy to fill-in any ‘functional’ gap with the readers’ own wit, I sense now that I might need to also furnish sufficient functional detail of my own to obviate certain potential misunderstandings. As it was mentioned here on this blog once before, this could be called the urge to misunderstand, which should never be underestimated. I think it is clear that many people are always drawn to misrepresent others when their own pet notions become a point of contention. It just doesn’t seem to be much of a human passion to render sympathy to views that are sensed to be inimical to our own.

It was written, ” … if your opinions are ratified, you have cause for celebration; if they are not, only then may you complain.” I couldn’t summarize myself in fewer words what it is that I object to more. The vote isn’t a reward for being conscious, nor is it a chance to vote for a prom queen, or for pet of the year, it may though actually be an embarrassing expression of your own ignorance, which would be a lamentable reality to face. But it ultimately begs the question, “Why should I seek to have it, or anything else, my way?” Why should I glory in having my ways inflicted on others? Couldn’t I be perfectly mistaken (and potentially a danger) if I seriously pursued my own interests to the exclusion of the interests of others? When you add the fact that very few people have either the time, or the intellect, to contemplate the effect of the potentially momentous choices they’ll make (that may very well affect millions–think of the Florida goofs who can’t punch holes), why should we encourage and solicit such incompetent (and dangerous) opinions?

I think the root of this misunderstanding can be found in a pervasive, yet tacit notion, that is accepted by many. It was Hume that pointed out this human urge that the two responses depend on. That’s why he thought of justice and government as a ‘mediation’ between the competing selfish urges. That’s why he made a point about saying that ‘ending the selfish urge would render justice unnecessary.’ Now I don’t doubt for a second that people of this sort are pervasive and, or, many, but is it really an axiom about public action we wish to accept without question? Why shouldn’t older people vote for measures against their ‘personal’ interests, and for something that may be in the interests of their grandchildren, or friends? Think of social security here. Why should we vote for something that may hurt others? Might we not vote for something that hurts us, but would benefit others that we may, or may not, care for?

To just take one type of example that most should be aware of, my experience of life (although blessed in this, I don’t think of myself as alone) has shown me repeated examples of parents who know quite well, and it comes easy to them as well, that for your children (to just name some obvious examples) you forgo personal interests, temper personal demands, mitigate personal goals, all in keeping with being a good parent. That no outside mediation is necessary, nor are reminders required, to pursue the interests of others to the exclusion of one’s own is a commonplace among parents, friends, and neighbors (why couldn’t countrymen be added easily to the mix?)

In short (and I’ll respond with more, but this is getting too long already as I feared), why shouldn’t people who have a more direct interest in any particular voting issue be allowed to make their choices without the meddling interference of masses of uninformed and vulgarly interested people?

You see, what’s really at issue is that the so-called ‘winners’ wish to have their success “legitimized.” This was a very Lockean notion. For this they need numbers, which is precisely my point. By denying them the ‘numbers’ they seek, we incrementally delegitimize their success, and hence the kind of gloating I sensed in the responses. To me I would be given pause, and sobered by the responsibility of ‘winning’ on an issue. But I sense only the desire to crow about such successes in many. In this way I sense the psychology of the crowd taking over, with all the rancid inplications. Politics as a football game is in no one’s interest, especially in the long-term. That’s why reading Madison is sobering, and perhaps also why he isn’t on many American’s reading list— few Americans risk having their conscience winning.



1. Lance Winsaft - January 30, 2008

I do not wish to comment on the first part of this post since it does address previous tangents expressed by former comments. It is not clear cut for me where the original discussion picks back up, but I will do my best to comment on the matter at hand.

“Couldn’t I be perfectly mistaken (and potentially a danger) if I seriously pursued my own interests to the exclusion of the interests of others?”

The answer to this question seems to be a yes, assuming the interest of others is what is most important. Though, if in fact, one’s own interests ARE what are most important, than voting selfishly seems to work (on a case to case basis of course).

So I will ask which is more important, the interest and needs of the collective or the individual-or is there really a difference, and if so what is that difference?

“why shouldn’t people who have a more direct interest in any particular voting issue be allowed to make their choices without the meddling interference of masses of uninformed and vulgarly interested people”

This idea is something that I have been a proponate of for many years, and not when it just comes to voting. In my eyes, no decision in life should be made without some degree of education on the matter. Stockbrokers do not just buy a stock without first some degree of analysis. The horrible problem with voting is that we have masses of people making uninformed decisions that have an effect on the entire country. 50 Cent and P. Diddy tell us to “VOTE OR DIE” Such ridiculousness in media is one example of how voting is forced among us. The masses run to the polls and line up like sheep to vote for individuals or issues of whom the only thing they no about come from Wolf Blitzer or Anderson Cooper.

Even as an educated voter why should one be content choosing between candidates in a quintessential “lesser than two evils” decision. It seems unfair to me. So if one has a choice: pick between two you don’t like, or don’t pick at all-which is the better option? To make the question more dimensional- Which is the better choice for self and which is the better choice for the masses.

I hope I didn’t miss the point of this post, and I look forward to a respose. My goal was to expand on some of the posters original points and ask some pertanant questions. This is an extremely interesting issue, especially this time of year. And with the current system the way it is, I feel discussion on this subject is of the most importance

2. Why I Vote (in plenum) « Philosophy On The Mesa - January 31, 2008

[…] Josef has an interesting (albeit dispersed) argument for why he doesn’t vote. (Here, here, and here) I agree with (most of) his premises but come to a different […]

3. cato on the greens - March 2, 2008

Although the right to vote is something that should be respected, the right not to participate, especially if one does not feel that the playing field of candiates supports ones owns moraes, should also be respected. Perhaps far more than the person that chooses the lessor of two evils and ethically, Josef is dead on. I defend his decision not to vote, just as I defend the decison of some of the dead heads to vote. Again, I say, if in convicition we lack the veracity to support our choice, we should really not be making the choice at all. If we are going to make the choice let us hope that this choice is an educated one.

Ralph Figueroa
aka ´Cato on the Greens´

4. cato on the greens - March 2, 2008

PS did I mention the fact that you should not vote if you are voting for the lessor of two evils? One more point, the actual manner that we will change our system is taking our heads out of the cave and stop electing candidates that are seemingly qualified based on education, age, and criminal record. We may want to consider people that have had struggles morally, but are actually changed by them, then individuals, that seemingly have a clean record, but are morally bankrupt, but are such experts of deception, that one cannot see through ther chamelions skin.

You know Who…

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