The 2014 Master Auction and Battered Voter Syndrome (Wendy McElroy)
Tuesday December 17th, 2013
Republican or Democrat? It's a trick question and a faux fight in the political war. Like a circus, it offers distraction from the real problem. The problem is not the face behind the office of power; it is the office of power itself which is unjust and destructive of all that is decent within man and society.
On some level, intelligent people understand this and so they chuckle cynically at jokes like “don't vote, it only encourages them.” Yet the same people will line up at voting stations in 2014 in much the same manner as they line up submissively at airports for screening. Some people will remain in the US to cast a vote in the hope that a shift in leadership will fundamentally change society. Or, at least, change it enough so that America once more becomes a safe place to raise children and grow old. The joke is on them. But no one who cares about freedom will be laughing.
The trick part of the question – Republican or Democrat? – was captured well by anarchist Sy Leon, author of the book None of the above: Why non-voters are America's political majority. Decades ago, during election seasons in L.A. County, Sy used to rent an oversized trailer into which he loaded two horses. Parking outside a voting station, he half-opened the back of the trailer to reveal the horses' asses which were perched above signs reading 'Republican' and 'Democrat'.
Sy stood to one side, distributing literature that urged people NOT to vote for electing anyone. He explained that electoral voting presented an utterly false choice because both sides were criminals who wanted power over the lives of innocent people. The specifics of the power that each political thug would exercise might differ in detail but not in its fundamental reality. Politicians claimed control your life by taking it from you. By the act of voting, you participated in handing them power. You gave a stamp of approval and legitimacy to their power because you chose to voluntarily play a rigged game that had no clean outcome.
In his book Attention Deficit Democracy, James Bovard explained, “Government is an elective dictatorship when voters do little more than select who will violate the laws and Constitution....[I]f the purported consent of voters confers upon the winner the right to nullify citizens’ rights – they are voting for a master, not a representative. Elections become little more than reverse slave auctions, in which slaves choose their masters.”
In reality, the situation is less morally justifiable. Being a master (that is, an elected politician) is a position of unjust power not only over the life of the voting slave but also over the lives of every innocent slave, including those who chose not to vote. A slave may decide to transfer power over his own life but he cannot in good conscience transfer power over the lives of others. He cannot in good conscience facilitate the power of a master to whip unconsenting slaves even if the beatings are less harmful than the defeated master might have administered.
Consider an analogy. Two criminals want to shoot into a crowd. The culture has convinced you to facilitate their ambition even though you know it to be an unjust one; you feel a 'need' to provide bullets either to one criminal or to the other. It is your life, and you have every right to provide ammunition to the preferred criminal if he is merely going to shoot you. You have no similar moral right to willingly provide ammunition for him to shoot innocent bystanders.
It is often argued that a libertarian political criminal would be an exception. But it is not the face behind the desk of unjust power that is objectionable; it is the power itself. And anyone who seeks such power cannot be trusted to dismantle it. Any libertarian who takes an oath of office to uphold the massively unjust laws of the U.S. is either lying to the public under oath or he is lying about being libertarian. In either case, he is a liar.
Voting for one criminal over another will never bring freedom. It only diverts attention and energy toward a strategy that benefits the criminals at the expense of decent people. Instead of investing in grassroots strategies, education, non-violent resistance or the host of effective methods to weaken the state and empower the individual, people vote. The saddest aspect of the queues of dutiful citizens who obey the admonition to vote is that they believe they are accomplishing something good.
Why do they do it? Most especially, why are repeat voters seduced over and over again by a process that has failed so miserably? Bovard originated a term: battered voter syndrome. As a woman who was badly battered in a former relationship, I recognize the instant insight of the parallel. Many battered women 'stay' for the same reason many voters return for more political abuse – love. For voters, the love could be expressed as the veneration of a political figure. You see this in liberals who virtually worship Obama and can never admit he has committed so much as a mistake. Instead, anyone who points out an obvious error or corrupt act is accused of racism.
Many intelligent voters are expressing a love of America when they cast a ballot. It is not a love of the political system but of the country in which they grew up and of the freedom they believe that country embodied. They cannot accept that what they love has been destroyed by precisely the process in which they are participating through their ballot. Instead, anyone who points to the destructive folly of voting becomes a target of backlash.
The political abuse of good people will end in the same manner as the physical abuse of battered women (or men). The abused will cling to the relationship and excuse all lies, all misconduct. They are committed to the relationship and almost incapable of admitting that it is all a horrible mistake. The abuse stops only when the victim confronts reality and walks away.
Voters should realize that they are casting a ballot for one Master over another and helping to enslave their neighbors. In 2014, people of goodwill need to walk away. If their love of the American ideal still burns bright and cannot be exported, then they should walk on their native soil toward another strategy because what is really being auctioned in elections is freedom itself.
Don't sell it so cheap. Don't sell it at all.
Wendy McElroy is a regular contributor to the Dollar Vigilante, and a renowned individualist anarchist and individualist feminist. She was a co-founder along with Carl Watner and George H. Smith of The Voluntaryist in 1982, and is the author/editor of twelve books, the latest of which is "The Art of Being Free". Follow her work at www.wendymcelroy.com.