On Facebook, TFI posted the attached meme with the following comment,
If you must vote, vote in self-defense to retain your property and freedom. In the meantime, educate the ignorant masses about decentralization, nullification, secession, and freedom of association; matters upon which the attainment of liberty depends.
TFI supports this statement, but some clarifications need to be made.
In the Anarcho-Capitalist/libertarian world, many people believe that voting necessarily infringes upon the property rights of others. Generally speaking, this is true. However, this does not mean that voting always entails infringing upon the natural property rights of others.
Ethically speaking, consent to the voting process is requisite for its own legitimacy; it becomes contractual. If consent to the voting process is not unanimous, then it is illegitimate; it is invalid. Referendums and political campaigns presuppose unanimous consent to the voting process. If there is no unanimity from those upon which policy is implemented, then not only is the process illegitimate and unethical, so too is the policy and the politician.
This is going to appear superfluous, but it cannot be overstated. Consent to the voting process is contractual. This has social implications with regards to community; a community must unanimously agree on a voting process to begin with — or no process at all — for governing policies to even be ethically legitimate and just. To remain consistent with principles of liberty, those items or persons voted for are not to violate the foundation upon which this process is premised. Otherwise, it is invalidated.
Think of it this way. Positive rights do not naturally exist, but they do exist by way of contract. A person can agree to specific restrictions on their own negative rights (e.g. following rules and regulations in order to participate in a function). This limited and specified abnegation of particular natural rights, being necessary for the existence of positive rights, does not come without a cost. The person who consents to this contract does receive something of value in exchange — be it governing representation or other some such service.
This is why the “social contract” — better stated as a “community covenant” — though not natural, is useful to a community that consents to it unanimously. This is what the Constitution implies and what Lysander Spooner argued against (with which we agree). The former assumes a person’s mere existence in a community as being consent to its governing institutions; the latter proved this not to be the case.
The Constitution’s ratification and implementation was not unanimous; and in this, it perpetually usurps the above principle of consent by assuming the validity of the “social contract” in perpetuity — which, legally speaking, is no contract at all.
Voters in a community have a natural right to consent or dissent. However, if consent to a process is not unanimous, then the process is invalid. In other words, our own democratic republic is invalid. All this to say that, one can vote in self-defense without validating the State. Moreover, the illegitimacy of the State does not mean one should abstain from it’s governing processes; especially if those processes can effect freedom to some degree.
Note the logical acuity of Lysander Spooner who says,
In truth, in the case of individuals, their actual voting is not to be taken as proof of consent, even for the time being. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, without his consent having even been asked a man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot resist; a government that forces him to pay money, render service, and forego the exercise of many of his natural rights, under peril of weighty punishments. He sees, too, that other men practice this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. He sees further, that, if he will but use the ballot himself, he has some chance of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting them to his own. In short, he finds himself, without his consent, so situated that, if he use the ballot, he may become a master; if he does not use it, he must become a slave. And he has no other alternative than these two. In self-defence, he attempts the former. His case is analogous to that of a man who has been forced into battle, where he must either kill others, or be killed himself. Because, to save his own life in battle, a man attempts to take the lives of his opponents, it is not to be inferred that the battle is one of his own choosing. Neither in contests with the ballot—which is a mere substitute for a bullet—because, as his only chance of self-preservation, a man uses a ballot, is it to be inferred that the contest is one into which he voluntarily entered; that he voluntarily set up all his own natural rights, as a stake against those of others, to be lost or won by the mere power of numbers. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, in an exigency into which he had been forced by others, and in which no other means of self-defence offered, he, as a matter of necessity, used the only one that was left to him.
In conclusion, obviously the United States of America is not a completely free country, by ethical standards. It is, however, freer than most others — save Lichtenstein. Though voting is thought to have little impact by a large margin [of voluntary non-voters], the reader should consider the aspect of self-defense, and the defense of others. If voting means the end of abortion, taxation, and economic intervention, then one wonders why the voter turnout of Christians and libertarians alike is so low. This is definitely something to [re]consider.