"The basic test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do." ~ Eric Hoffer
The following article was published on November 27, 2002 in Connect Savannah: Savannah's News, Arts, and Entertainment Weekly
'The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is' a good citizen driven to despair.' ~ H. L. Mencken
After 35 years of voting in every election, I have recently joined the swelling ranks of non-voters. I am a conscientious objector.
Conscientious because I read daily from a wide spectrum of publications and remain informed about government, its (false) promises, its failures, and its abuses. I study issues and candidates. I am probably better informed than 99 percent of those who do vote.
Objector because I object to the system as practiced.
Non-voters are often categorized as ignorant, indolent, and apathetic. But voters, as a class, often adopt those same characteristics.
Many vote the straight party because they are too lazy to think, too apathetic to inform themselves, and too ignorant of the issues'not to mention the proper role of government'to make enlightened choices, assuming they were allowed any.
They have bought into the vision of a government strong enough to give them what they want without realizing that such a government is strong enough to take everything away.
They have accepted the premise that voting makes them the rulers, which makes it easier for them to be ruled.
They believe elected officials who still refer to the 'Social Security Trust Fund' in typical weasel words, despite the fact that members of both parties have systematically looted the program since its inception.
They believe in promises of reform that invariably cost more than the problems the reforms are meant to correct, problems that usually are the direct result of earlier 'reforms.'
They believe that their candidate or party will make positive changes in government despite the fact that it is the natural tendency of government to grow steadily worse'better for the rulers and worse for the ruled.
They believe that the federal government keeps its books in much better shape than Enron does, although Enron's accounting systems could have been modeled on various federal agencies.
They believe that the government can do something about the economy, other than impede it, bring false hope, and generally obstruct the workings of a free market.
They believe that controlling interest rates through the Federal Reserve is good for the economy, despite the fact that such control aggravates the natural boom-bust cycle.
They believe that the government can keep us safe and comfortable, just as mommy and daddy did when we were six, forgetting the World Trade Center and the Maryland-Virginia-Washington-Alabama-wherever sniper team.
They believe that being secure and comfortable is more important than being free, despite the fact that security is a myth and freedom has been traded away for conveniences.
They believe election officials who replace paper, optical scan, and punch card ballots with electronic voting machines, most of which make a mockery of elections by providing no way to confirm votes.
They believe that every vote counts, despite the fact that miscounts are epidemic, one vote counts for .000001 percent of the votes cast, and any vote can be cancelled by one homeless guy induced to vote in exchange for a pack of cigarettes.
They believe that someone actually 'represents' them in the legislature, despite the fact that they have no control over their 'representative' and cannot dismiss him for misrepresenting them until after the harm is done, if then.
They believe in the secret ballot, a shadow mechanism that guarantees the election of representatives who represent only their self-interests.
They believe in voting for the politician who promises goodies because it is much easier to get the government to pick someone else's pocket than to do it themselves.
They believe in voting because they think democracy gives them the right to impose their wills on everyone else.
This I cannot do.
To call voting a civic duty or an obligation does not make it so, for I feel no obligation to take part in a corrupted system that puts my property and my liberty at risk.
Calling me irresponsible is incorrect. I take responsibility for my own actions and my own life and I refuse to be responsible for the unchecked ambitions of those elected to office.
Calling me unpatriotic does not make me so, for I love my country and despise its government, just as those patriots did in 1776.
I will accept being branded a radical, in the Menckenian sense.