The Seven Reasons I Am Not Voting

Do you find my lack of faith disturbing?

I am ignoring politics. I have been for a while. Here’s why, roughly speaking.

  1. The level of debate is so low that it cannot sustain the sophistication of the arguments necessary to make policy improvements responsibly. It’s like listening to two dogs barking over a bone and trying to determine the caloric content of the bone. One dog is going to get the bone and eat the bone, but nobody’s ever going to figure out if it was actually a healthy bone.

  2. There is effectively nothing up for debate that is a large issue in which significant progress can be made. Energy policy will not change. Immigration policy will not be resolved. The debt of the Federal government or of the Federal Reserve will not be resolved. Deficit spending will not be resolved. The high cost of healthcare will not be resolved. Only symbolic and minor issues will be actually addressed.

  3. There are no differences of substance, even among the minor issues which may be resolved that will affect me personally. My interests are in my own hands. I will out think any policy recommendations that will be sold to the general public and popular vote.

  4. Even among the minor issues for which I might be intellectually curious, I have heard no compelling arguments that might sway me one way or another.

  5. I perceive a lack of good faith in most debates. This is, to my reckoning a feature of populism and identity politics characterized by a shrill tone. To point out logical errors in arguments presented by either side is tantamount to treachery - they cannot even imagine that any criticism is not coming from a partisan position.

  6. I am convinced that most legislation by our parliamentary bodies are a kind of surface thrash that is busy work, like adding more threads to a ball of yarn which never gets untangled. These are accomplished through opaque methods, like omnibus appropriations or numerical propositions whose sponsors are not directly accountable. If ‘Yes on 8’ fails, who is to blame? If ‘Yes on 8’ passes and is bad law, who is to blame?

  7. The duopoly of the two parties has infiltrated daily life and politicized more issues than they could possibly manage. This has led may people to believe their every decision has political implications, even though the government is silent or incapable of policing. This makes citizens distrust each other and take less responsibility for changing politicians and consequently raises the volume.

There are details and examples that I might add to all of these, but that would engage me beyond my interests. I’ve already invoked the Abstention Principle, and for all of the discussion I might sustain on these important points, I know that 212 arguments do not compile to one vote for A vs B. There are far too many moving parts to this infernal machine and it has already run off the rails.

Quite frankly I am mostly impressed with our Judiciary and I expect the kind of stabilizing sclerosis we see in our willingness and ability to engage in torts at the drop of a hat. Anyone who thinks we are in a Constitutional crisis is being paranoid. Anyone who thinks that civilized citizens have irretrievably succumbed to hysteria is cynical. Our society is under threat from itself. Honesty and courage are all that is needed, as well as a sense of humor and a respect for wisdom. We have plenty of that. We just think we can get away without it for a little while longer by putting lipstick on our favorite pigs for the time being. We will heal before we cure, after we settle down and realize we have to live with our rash decisions.

In the meantime, I do have some expectations for the improvement of this environment for the election of rabble. I will take them as cues that our political debates are getting better.

  1. Nuclear energy becomes a viable industry in America with all of the job benefits inherent. Consequently oil, gas and coal prices drop.

  2. Independent and third party candidates who are not Ivy League attorneys succeed in displacing Congressional incumbents, not just death in office.

  3. A reversal of the wave of mergers and acquisitions in the banking industry begins, and more favorable regulations bolster credit unions and re-establish the savings & loan industry.

  4. Facebook is eclipsed. Journalists certify and open-source their data as a matter of regular course. Like this.

  5. More longitudinal information is produced and published on the judicial system of the US.

And obviously a significant change in the basis for the seven reasons I give above. In the meantime, without cynicism of schadenfreude I prepare for that which fails.

When a future change is framed as a problem which we might hope our political system to solve, then the only acceptable reason to talk about the consequences of failing to solve that problem is to scare folks into trying harder to solve it. If you instead assume that politics will fail to solve the problem, and analyze the consequences of that in more detail, not to scare people but to work out how to live in that scenario, you are seen as expressing disloyalty to the system and hostility toward those who will suffer from that failure.

My absenteeism in this election will trouble people, but this is what I do. I write. With the most persuasion and detail I find appropriate, I say exactly what I feel needs to be said. I prefer this to the assumptions of partisan patriotism I might receive from wearing the little “I voted” sticker. I am aware of the slight danger that accrues in a society that is slighly mad, but I stand by my lack of faith in this secular religion.