Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Questions on elections: Are they truly democratic and ethical?

Dave Scotese — Today Americans participate in the election process for choosing their president. While America's election process is truly democratic, it is also dominated by two parties. Do not deceive yourself that a democracy is any more beneficial to the citizens than a monarchy or a dictatorship. In Hans Hermann-Hoppe's great work, The Myth of National Defense, one can find many essays that show how democracy tends to lead to much worse outcomes (total war, as well as a welfare class, the essential elements of the welfare/warfare state) than governmental structures that pin the blame on single individuals. All systems of government are coercive, and this leads to problems whether the coercion comes from one, a few, or even from the entire citizenry.

An important question in democratic system of government is whether the process of voting is satisfactory. Does it matter how many people choose not to vote for any of the candidates? Voting is a tool that most people use to justify and rationalize violating each other through legislation and representation to get what they want. This is satisfying for many people, though few of them realize the unintended side-effects of popular support for the use of coercion. Such a realization must break through many layers of cognitive dissonance and propaganda. As to the mechanics, the US uses pluralityvoting in most cases, which means the largest of the factions struggling for the right to coerce everyone will win that privilege outright, regardless of the number of people who don't vote for it.

The system itself will ignore those who don't vote, just as many who don't vote ignore the system. As the realization described above grows, this mutual ignoring of each other will end in non-voters being free of coercion, and voters being frustrated into giving up their efforts to control others through legislation and representation. We are headed toward much better times at the speed of growing awareness about the nature of government and human relationships.

I also consider the question whether media provides unbiased coverage of the election campaign. This actually leads me to ask, “Where is the motive for media to provide unbiased coverage of election campaigns?" Most people do not seek out unbiased information, but rather information that confirms their own biases. This leads to the growing divide, among those who vote, between those on one side and those on the other. Media plays on this divide because struggles for power and domination are very interesting. Pick a side, any side, and you'll have viewers who watch because they hate you and viewers who watch because the love you. Take an unbiased approach, and few will be interested.

Many people have an unexamined attachment to the idea of democracy. Children in school are taught that majority rules, even when every individual suffers. The idea is that if everyone does the same thing, that thing will be more effective. At what it is effective is not questioned. This inordinate affection for “democratic behavior” is very dangerous, as all the great wars of the 20th and 21stcenturies show.

A better use of the money spent on election campaigns would not be any kind of democratic behavior, but rather the exercise of personal, individual preferences of people enlightened to cooperation instead of coercion. The expenditures as they are today amount to pandering to the worst of our subconscious desires. As Frederic Bastiat said, Government is that great fiction through which everyone attempts to live at the expense of everyone else. People put a lot of their own time and effort and money into making that attempt, and that is what election spending is all about.

How people spend their money is not nearly as important as why they spend it. They ought to spend it to please themselves and those they love, being careful at the same time to avoid promoting or helping those who wield the legitimized coercion of government power. We hurt ourselves far more with such a faith in politics than if we hadn't earned the money in the first place.

Having pondered these questions and come to my own answers written above, I have not paid much attention to the elections this year. I spend time searching out ways to get what I want from others by pleasing them instead. I've had discussions with a number of my relatives and friends of my parents, but I haven't found any magic phrase that makes a person who is excited about and interested in the election stop and say "Wow, Dave, you're right! I'm definitely going to put my time to better use than what I have been doing." It's one of my dreams. Maybe you can help me find it with a comment!