This is an article I wrote for the school newspaper- Hampshire College’s The Climax. They told me only 650 words, which made it very difficult to make my argument in this op-ed. Comments would be welcome, as I would like to develop a much stronger piece for future use in a zine.
Anarchists Against Voting
With all of the blame for lack of voter turn out in elections being placed on apathy, some important reasons that can be behind the decision to not vote or participate in elections are overlooked. Not voting is not necessarily a decision made out of apathy. Voting, and thinking that voting is empowering and counts as genuine participation in the political arena is much more apathetic than not voting.
As an anarchist I am against voting. Many anarchists beliefs are in opposition to the ideas of voting, particularly in large national elections. Anarchists are against government, but not against organization. The organization of the government in the U.S.A. right now is that of a ‘democracy’ (but actually, a republic). Democracy is the rule of the majority over the minority. Which is, inherently, oppression of the minority. This is a completely unjust situation, and against what anarchists stand for.
Another reason anarchists have to be against voting is opposition the principle of representation. The concept of a representative government goes against what anarchy stands for. It is completely ridiculous to think that a couple hundred politicians could possibly be able to represent the multitude of voices and opinions in this country. No one should have to have someone else represent them, no one should have more representation than anyone else, we should all be able to represent ourselves, equally.
A popular quote, often attributed to the famed anarchist Emma Goldman is, “if voting changed anything they’d make it illegal”. The validity of this simple idea is obvious. If there was any chance of vast improvements in the government and economy through voting, (which would cause financial harm to the people in government and corporations controlling the government), voting would be prohibited. Voting is a token gesture intended to make the people feel in control while maintaining dominance over them.
Voting implies agreement with the status quo of ‘democracy’, capitalism, and the power of the state. Participation in the voting process adds to the perceived legitimacy of the state and government.
Voting disempowers grassroots and direct action by averting energy from such activities and suggesting that there exists an easier solution to problems (i.e.. The electoral process and lobbying politicians).
From an anarchist point of view it is obvious that the government does not serve the people, but rather serves its own and corporate interests. Largely the government preserves its own power as well as other dominant power structures- private property. Regardless of the politician or party you vote for you are voting for an oppressive political system.
Some people have argued that voting is necessary, in order to prevent some total jerk from being elected into office. Voting out of fear is an unsavory idea. Others have argued that one candidate is slightly better than another. The lesser of two evils vote is also unpleasant, and points to the worthlessness of our government. An important factor to consider when voting for the lesser of two evils is that what a politician says they will do while campaigning, and what they end up doing once elected are generally totally different things.
While I understand the points about how voting is perceived as a privilege and many people are happy to have the privilege of voting, and how people fought and even died for the right to vote, none of those reasons makes me think voting is important. I believe that people have been tricked into thinking that voting was something important. I think it is sad that many people see voting every couple years as the most participation and influence they will have in their entire lives over the system that governs them. There should be a localized process that allows people to represent themselves, come to consensus, and establish real control over their lives.
Voting is a hoax. Time spent voting is time wasted. Wake up and see that the government does not work for you. Start finding ways to create actual change in society.