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Old 06-27-2008, 08:28 AM   #1
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Can Not Voting Be Principled?

In a free country can it a principled position to not vote?

For instance if given a choice between an economic and social conservative and an economic social conservative who is nominally a little more for the working class?

Do you feel that it is irresponsible and lame, principled and righteous or something else altogether to throw away your stake in democracy because you cannot agree with what is offered?

I should state that any contempt I have towards autocracy via democracy is not from a "they should do things the way I want to" mentality, rather it's born from the more selfish "I should be allowed to do things the way I want to" mentality. I'm simply fed up with the government of the day leaping upon whatever crisis of the week to steal from the public (be it excess booze and junk food tax) or resorting to base bigotry, there is never any debate about the role of the state and the populace, that may be a systematic problem, given that most people (by which I mean a democratic majority) seem to support the infringements on liberty that they assume can never effect them.
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Old 06-27-2008, 03:37 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by A_Wanderer View Post
In a free country can it a principled position to not vote?
I'll just answer this question, the rest was too much for me to digest and think about at one time.


In America, not voting on principle is pointless.

Someone will win, and that person will have the capacity to do things, that affect everyone, even principled non-voters.


I think of it like this, if we are driving cross country and we must stop and eat, and there will not be an opportunity to eat for another day or so.

We stop at the one diner, there are three things on the menu. If I do not see something I like. I choose the item I dislike the least.

My traveling companion says I don't see anything I like.
I wont order anything.
So I order something for her to go, and a few hours later, she has to live with my choice.

But, she now has the pleasure of bitching, she can say I did not choose this, its terrible.

I have seen people take office with only a 10% turn out.

They wield the same power as if the turn out was 80%.
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Old 06-27-2008, 03:40 PM   #3
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^

I'll echo deep's main point...policy affects non-voters just as much as voters, so why would you toss aside that privilege?
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Old 06-27-2008, 03:45 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by deep View Post
I'll just answer this question, the rest was too much for me to digest and think about at one time.


In America, not voting on principle is pointless.

Someone will win, and that person have the capacity to do things, that affect everyone, even principled non-voters.


I think of it like this, if we are driving cross country and we must stop and eat, and there will not be an opportunity to eat for another day or so.

We stop at the one diner, there are three things on the menu. If I do not see something I like. I choose the item I dislike the least.

My traveling companion says I don't see anything I like.
I wont order anything.
So I order something for her to go, and a few hours later, she has to live with my choice.

But, she now has the pleasure of bitching, she can say I did not choose this, its terrible.

I have seen people take office with only a 10% turn out.

They wield the same power as if the turn out was 80%.
I like the analogy. I'm gonna store this one.
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Old 06-27-2008, 04:26 PM   #5
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I haven't yet heard a really good excuse NOT to vote. Several good reasons are already posted. Also, since you can always write-in, no one can argue that they are not voting b/c they don't like the choices. I believe that often local gov't has more affect on my daily life anyway, so I need to go vote for those positions, not stay home b/c I don't like person A or person B.
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Old 06-27-2008, 05:00 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by A_Wanderer View Post
In a free country can it a principled position to not vote?

For instance if given a choice between an economic and social conservative and an economic social conservative who is nominally a little more for the working class?

Do you feel that it is irresponsible and lame, principled and righteous or something else altogether to throw away your stake in democracy because you cannot agree with what is offered?
No, I don't think it's a principled position to not vote. However, it is a principled position to cast an invalid/blank vote. That way, you've made the effort to support the democratic system by turning out to vote (i.e. you count for the turnout statistics). And you've made known what your choice is, i.e. not one of the choices offered, by far.
If enough people feel and do the same, it will be a strong signal.
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Old 06-27-2008, 05:16 PM   #7
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Probably not so much the case in the US, Australia or UK with a very limited number of parties, but in countries with more parties it is definitely important to cast a vote. Otherwise, the fringe, i.e. the left and right extremist parties get too many votes relative to overall turnout. Though in Germany we have a minimum of 5% to get voted into the parliament better not give them the chance to reach that number only because you thought your vote wouldn't be necessary.

If you don't see yourself represented by any party but also don't have to fear the fringe getting too much power it is definitely harder to always see the need for entertaining one's political power, especially if you don't really see how would be the smaller evil. Nevertheless, I wouldn't ever want to waste the opportunity to cast my vote and get my say, and think no matter how tiny that one vote might seem it's always much more principled to give the election that 0.00001% of your power than throwing it into the bin.
I couldn't go and complain about my government if I didn't at least give it a try to make a change.
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Old 06-27-2008, 06:01 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by A_Wanderer View Post
In a free country can it a principled position to not vote?

For instance if given a choice between an economic and social conservative and an economic social conservative who is nominally a little more for the working class?
What would the "principle" at stake there be? If you sincerely find one or more of an otherwise acceptable candidate's stances to be utterly morally abhorrent, and feel that you can't in good conscience accept even the small degree of complicity involved in casting your vote for them, then that I would consider "principled nonvoting". But if all it actually boils down to is disillusionment and cynicism, I don't think you could really call that "principled."
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Old 06-27-2008, 06:24 PM   #9
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Also, since you can always write-in, no one can argue that they are not voting b/c they don't like the choices.
Though, e.g. in Germany that choice doesn't exist. But we have dozens of small parties you could cast your "protest vote" for.
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Old 06-28-2008, 07:27 AM   #10
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Voting is not a hardship for me. I live three minutes from my polling place and am in and out in less than 10 minutes, being that I'm usually 1st or 2nd in line in the morning. Although I had a many year period when I did not vote at all, I usually vote, but not for all the races.

Voting is one tool in a society, but not the only one. I've always kept the no-vote as an option for varying reasons. Stated policies are one thing, how they are executed is another. I don't see any reason to reward what I consider poor performance just because the campaign lip service is more palatable to me. To me to cast a vote in that situation is a waste of my vote, a misuse of my voice. People don't change unless it is in their best interests to do so and rewarding them (even as the lesser of two evils) sends a message that I am pleased with their performance. There is no accountability.
I do not believe in voting as a civic duty. I believe in it as a tool to make your voice heard.

I'm a believer in an active citizenry. But to me an active citizenry says we deserve better than this. We don't have to accept this. And if the party of which I am a nominal member loses because they didn't believe they were accountable, so be it.
That doesn't mean that I don't weigh things for elections. I might vote for somebody I think is probably corrupt, but is skilled at getting things done. I might vote against somebody I find dangerous or so antithema to me that I'm willing to vote for the other person even when I have reservations (ie Kerry over Bush).

One of the disadvantages of a party in disfavor is the other party takes it for granted that they don't have to do, they merely have to be (or not be the other). Nor do I like the notion that if you have a certain value system, the party takes it for granted you have nowhere else to go. I don't see much leadership or dissent in the Democrats nowadays. They make speeches of protest (not talking Obama here) and then go along with the vote. They are jockeying for position, not action.

Certainly the FISA compromise was a disappointment to me. And I was surprised that no one other than yolland mentioned it. I didn't because with my stated position on this year's election, I figured I'd lost some credibility here and any response of mine would be considered piling on Obama and would be a waste of keystroke or would lead to a response to me that would praise Obama for his nuanced position on the compromise and I would have to hurt my computer.

Most change occurs here from a lower level on up. For the most part, I don't find our leaders brave or visionary (although there are some). At best, they are responsive. Change come when people demand change. It's not given to us. When gay marriage becomes legal, as it will, it will be because of the groundwork laid out beneath the leadership level, on the social and political grassroots level. Sure it will take politicians to enact it (or judges to make it so) but that is not where it began. When we get better government, it will be because we weren't willing to settle for mediocre government. And sometimes that means not choosing between two mediocre candidates. I believe in showing up at the polling place so your dissent is not written off as indifference. Then I believe in casting or not casting a vote for a specific race as you see fit. Your vote doesn't belong to anybody else but you.
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Old 06-28-2008, 12:43 PM   #11
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Certainly the FISA compromise was a disappointment to me. And I was surprised that no one other than yolland mentioned it. I didn't because with my stated position on this year's election, I figured I'd lost some credibility here and any response of mine would be considered piling on Obama and would be a waste of keystroke or would lead to a response to me that would praise Obama for his nuanced position on the compromise and I would have to hurt my computer.
Actually, I mentioned FISA before the vote itself, in the context of telling deep that it's one of those issues that I care about but I don't think the general public gives a shit. And frankly the lack of commentary on FISA here does reinforce that view. It simply is not something that the general public who are not political junkies will get up in arms about which is why ultimately, while I disagree with Obama's position, I don't believe it will hurt him with 99.9% of voters.

Campaign finance reform is another such issue, which is really why neither McCain's nor Obama's actions in that regard have gotten much traction among the public.
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Old 06-28-2008, 01:05 PM   #12
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Fisa reinforced my suspicion, and fear, that in that regard there won't come too much change with a Democrat president.

On a sidenote, I've got to take a closer look at the new US embassy here in Berlin (see my signature ) and wow!, that's sad we couldn't stop that from being built.
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Old 06-28-2008, 01:12 PM   #13
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That ugly ass building looks EXACTLY the same as the student residence I used to live in. No joke.
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Old 06-28-2008, 02:50 PM   #14
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With rocket-proof windows?
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