A chad never left hanging

October 29, 2012 § 6 Comments

Suppose that when we participated in mass democratic elections we were required to make our implicit endorsement of the legitimacy of the liberal governing consensus fully explicit: that is, suppose that in order for your ballot to be validated, you had to explicitly check off agreement with the following proposition:

I hereby declare that the choices of candidates and resolutions on this ballot are legitimate.  I affirm my support of the process by which they were selected.  I agree that the end result of this election is legitimate, whether my personal selections win or lose.

Suppose that on the ballot was a resolution to limit killing children in medical experiments to children below a certain age.

A few questions are raised by the scenario:

  1. Just how comfortable would you be checking that box?  Just how comfortable should you be?
  2. Does making your endorsement explicit make a fundamental difference morally, or does it just make the voting ritual more honest?

The answers to these questions must take into account that, because of the nature of mass market democratic elections, it is literally impossible to make a pragmatic rather than idealistic/principled choice.

§ 6 Responses to A chad never left hanging

  • William Luse says:

    “Just how comfortable would you be checking that box?”

    Well obviously I couldn’t check it at all if killing kids is on the ballot. I think there should be another box to check, one that says “I consider this ballot to be illegitimate because of one or more intrinsically immoral choices in the offerings on display, and/or one or more of the candidates are unacceptable.”

    If a majority of ballots are checked in this fashion, they have to scrap the election and start from scratch.

  • The Continental Op says:

    Can you address the situation in the eventuality that voting were made a requirement?

  • Can you address the situation in the eventuality that voting were made a requirement?

    Very briefly: any penalty or consequence of not voting would be an outcome-independent consideration for making a prudential judgement of what to do. I haven’t argued (and do not think) that voting is intrinsically immoral. The two step process is to first insure that you are not formally cooperating with evil; and next to evaluate the act as a prudential judgement, that is, to determine whether, objectively, proportionate reason exists to vote (or to vote in a certain way). If there are immediate pragmatic consequences of not voting – independent of the outcome, since you can’t influence the outcome – then it is perfectly reasonable to take those consequences in to consideration, in addition to any other outcome-independent consequences, in determining whether or not you have proportionate reason to vote.

  • (This is similar in some respects to the case of someone who is being coerced into compliance with the HHS mandate, which I addressed here.)

  • […] Catholic: A chad never left hanging; Conservatism, Elections, and the Kantian Chasm; Matthew 18:3; Licensed to Gripe; Reconciled to the […]

  • […] by applying a concrete understanding of the nature of voting in modern mass-market universal suffrage elections to all of that, I conclude that a […]

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