The non-voter as traitor
November 1, 2012 § 10 Comments
I don’t know how many times someone has suggested that refusing to personally endorse the liberal consensus in a concrete ritual act – voting – implies that one has utterly rejected one’s country. Recently a commenter at another blog suggested with outrage that refusing to vote for Mitt Romney is tantamount to refusing to defend our country from invasion. Folks have suggested that in order to take my view – that at this particular cul-de-sac in history there is no proportionate reason to vote in national elections – they would have to also conclude that the government is completely illegitimate and need not be obeyed: that we are in a de-facto “state of nature”. Others have suggested that the view that for principled reasons one should not vote at all is so radical that if it were true, armed insurrection against the government would be warranted.
Despite its material triviality, declining to engage in this one particular, personal, ritual act is for many people tantamount to treason.
Even leaving allowances for the tendency toward hyperbolic raving on the Internet, I have been subjected to these sorts of comments by enough serious commenters over a period of enough years to take them seriously. People really do think this sort of thing, and it isn’t just the freaks and nutcases.
One reason they might think this sort of thing is a very poorly developed imagination, I suppose. For me, it is obvious beyond words that declining, with good reason, to make a particular personal ritual act of civic piety, is not the same thing as hating one’s country, refusing to defend it against a bona fide invasion, etc. But again I’ve encountered this too many times and in too many places to be able to chalk it up to the psychological deficiencies of particular people.
So in the end, I am left with the inescapable impression that for a great many people, votes are just what I say they are. Those of you who do vote on November 6th might want to keep your noses alert; because you just might smell incense.