It’s that time again, the time of year where news pundits, politicians, your peers, your neighbors, and your mentors tell you that YOU MUST vote! Not only are we told that this is the most important election since the last election, but our heads – especially the younger generations – are filled with the idea that this is our big change, the moment we have been waiting for our entire lives – the moment we can affect the world around us! We have the chance, they say, to elect that bright and shiny new young politician, Or, we are told this is our one opportunity to vote against that ugly, disgusting, old criminal politician.
My point is that this whole game is about convincing more people to participate in this rigged system. I have released several videos and essays on my thought on voting, and why I do not vote. Before you comment below how angry you are that I don’t vote, I advise you to watch those videos and read those essays, because I have answered every criticism made against non voters. Hint: I am not apathetic or nihilistic!
But today the goal is to offer a few tips to my voting friends, from your favorite non voter. So let’s do it…
1) Be an Educated Voter – I have heard many people say that “voting only takes 5 minutes”. Obviously, voting takes longer than 5 minutes, but I get the general sentiment: stop being lazy it doesn’t take that long to go to the polling place and press a couple buttons. However genuine this sentiment may be, it is incorrect. Look, if you are simply going to the polls and voting for one color over the other, or voting for one party over the other, then sure, maybe it only takes a couple minutes to go vote and press that button.
But if you actually want to be an educated voter, and know the positions of the individuals running, or the issues that are being voted on, then that is going to take some research. That might take a few hours online learning about the candidates and the issues. It might take a few days of reflection on your morals and values. It could even take a few weeks as you contemplate whether any of these candidates represent your values or if the issues on the ballot are important enough to cause you to go vote in the first place. So if your vote is such a serious topic, why not take it serious? This means you might need to start researching weeks or months ahead of the election. If you don’t have that kind of time, maybe consider only voting on the candidates and issues you are educated on? There is no shame in not voting when you aren’t educated on a topic. And when I say educated I don’t mean you spent a couple hours watching cable news and made up your mind. I mean educating yourself from multiple sources.
2) Don’t Vote Straight Ticket – Straight-ticket voting or straight-party voting is the practice of voting for every candidate that a political party has on a general election ballot. So this point really expands on my first one about being an educated voter. The fact of the matter is that unless you are an educated straight ticket voter and have educated yourself on every issue and person on the ballot, then you are doing yourself a disservice. If you have not taken the time to educate yourself about these issues and people, it is highly unlikely that you can be certain that voting straight ticket will get you the results you are looking for. Now some of you may be saying, “but I am a lifelong democrat” or “I’m a lifelong republican” (if you are outside of the u.s. Insert your nations dominating political parties, its all the same), well sure you may typically identify with one of the parties, but in reality each of us as free, powerful, beautiful human beings are much more complex than the two-party paradigm (or the party system in general!) system represents. Try to think of taking the time to learn about the issues and candidates as a form of self-respect where you recognize the value of your time and energy. Don’t throw away your time and energy and vote by giving it away blindly to a political party which likely doesn’t fully represent you.
3) Don’t Compromise – This piece of advice might rub some people the wrong way. I am not stating that in life we should never make compromises. However, I disagree wholeheartedly that we should have to violate our principles, morals, and values in order to have a “civilized” society. I strongly believe that the future of humanity depends on every free human becoming self aware, reflecting on their principles, taking steps to live by those principles, and educating others about the values of those principles. For me, this means following the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule has been stated in a number of forms throughout history, but typically it is the idea that it’s wrong to treat others in ways you yourself do not want to be treated. Stated differently, one could say it is wrong to initiate force, violence, or coercion against another free human beings.
This is because each of us own ourselves – that is, our physical bodies and the products of our labor and voluntary arrangements with other people. Thus it is wrong to violate this principle of self ownership by initiating force or coercing another free human. I refuse to compromise on this. Participating in the electoral political system goes against these core beliefs. I believe it is wrong to hold a vote and then use government to force other people to live by the results. I understand many of you disagree. What I ask of you then, is to take time to understand the principles and values that guide your desire to vote. Once you understand what guides you, ask yourself if these politicians can truly live up to your standards? You do not have to accept the lesser of two evils. You don’t have to accept evil.
4) Stop Shaming People – It has become a common tactic by those on the left and the right to shame those who do not participate in the State’s ritual known as voting. This does not help your cause. And it’s not just with voting. I have met many people who tell me they will keep their true opinions to themselves or even lie to friends out of fear of being attacked or berated for straying from popular opinion. If we have reached the time where an individual feels safer by self censoring their opinions we need to take a moment to reflect. Regardless of whether or not you agree with someone’s lifestyle choices and opinions, you do not help your cause by making them feel small. If voting is not just a popularity contest, if it is meant to be a true representation of the will of the people, isn’t non-participation its own form of voting or expressing an opinion? Don’t be mad because people come to different conclusions and make different decisions.
5) Vote With Your Actions – This is the most important tip I can offer anyone. Please, don’t wait for the federal elections every two to four years to start getting involved. If you want to be politically involved, focus your efforts on your local community – the school board, the municipality, the city council. But even more than that, vote with your actions by making every one of your life choices part of your effort to live in line with your values. This might mean getting involved in local community gardening and urban farming, getting to know your neighbors and maybe creating a neighborhood watch, promoting or starting a local alternative currency, hosting or attending skillshares, free schools, community tool and book sharing, and so many other ways to get involved with the people close to you and liberate your own communities and neighborhoods.
Yes, you can do both. You can get involved in your community and you can vote in elections. My challenge to those of you who choose this particular path is the following: On the same day you place your vote go get involved in some type of community project. Perhaps, start volunteering at a community farm and plant seeds in the earth. Track the progress of the result of your vote and the result of planting seeds and see which experience provides more value to your life. I am quite confident that if you choose to get involved in community activism (I am not talking about political activism) in a variety of forms you will find your life enriched. You can build relationships that could potentially become the framework for the decentralized communities of the future. To learn more about investing your time and energy into creating alternatives to the current system, research agorism and counter-economics.
I hope these tips were helpful or informative. At the end of the day, I think most people who are participating in the elections do so with the best intentions. However, some people truly desire to control the lives of others via the political system and I cannot endorse that. My hope is that in the coming generations we will find more peaceful, compassionate ways to organize our lives. It starts by recognizing the power and beauty within each individual free human being.