How About Making Elections Less Important?
By Anders Ingemarson [Orignally published on Separate! Feb. 12, 2022]
Conservative claims of 2020 election fraud have been repeatedly refuted. For example, The Wall Street Journal reported back in January that the conservative leaning Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) that supported many of Mr. Trump’s policies, in its Dec 7 report “…wallops state officials for bending election rules amid the pandemic. That mistake put ballots into legal doubt, due to no fault of the voter, while fueling skepticism. Yet the stolen-election theory doesn’t hold up. President Biden won Wisconsin by 20,682, and mass fraud ‘would likely have resulted in some discernible anomaly,’ WILL says. ‘In all likelihood, more eligible voters cast ballots for Joe Biden than Donald Trump.’” (emphasis mine) The article continues “WILL’s hand recount of 20,000 votes from 20 wards, including in Milwaukee, found ‘no evidence of fraudulent ballots.’ It did show ‘a significant number of voters who voted for Biden and a Republican for Congress.’ In wards of suburban Mequon, to pick one, 10.5% of Biden ballots went for GOP Rep. Glenn Grothman.” This is but one of many investigations that have concluded that the election was not stolen from Mr. Trump, refuting conspiracy theories on the right.
At the other end of the political spectrum, President Biden in a speech in Georgia on January 10 fanning the flames of conspiracy theories on the left, accused conservative law-makers of supporting “Jim Crow 2.0” which he defined being “about two insidious things: voter suppression and election subversion.“ This for their efforts to shore up state voting laws, and for not passing the federal Freedom to Vote Act that would supersede such state laws.
Changes to election laws, election fraud, and redistricting (including gerrymandering) evokes strong emotions providing fuel for conspiracy theories: among blacks who were historically disenfranchised until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and among people on the right who feel powerless in the face of the progressive onslaught, just to mention a couple of examples. But how come a recount seemingly becomes a question of life and death? Why does some not shy away from registering voters and obtaining votes by fraudulent means? How come redistricting that used to be at the complete discretion of state lawmakers merits U.S. Supreme Court attention? Why is the country in permanent campaign mode? Unless you’re a political pundit who thrive on this stuff, the never-ending election cycles are exhausting. Maybe we should ask ourselves the broader question: Why have elections taken on such a disproportionate importance?
I think the answer lies in the fact that our government is involved at every level and with every aspect of our lives. This means that come election day we, the people, whether exhausted or not, sense the urgency of having a say in how that involvement is exercised. If we don’t vote, if we don’t ensure the voting process is fair, we’ll be run over by others who do vote, who may game the system, and who think they know what’s best for us. Our right to vote becomes a weapon in the high-stakes game between political parties and their armies of special interest groups fighting over the tax, spending and regulatory bounty that goes to the winner.
But it shouldn’t have to be this way. In a truly free society—a society that respects and protects our individual rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness—the right to vote would be a marginal issue. How so? We simply wouldn’t have that much to vote on.
Let’s say you’re going to the polls to protect your hard-earned current or future Social Security check. In a truly free society, you would be in charge of your retirement without government involvement. You would plan for it from the day you entered the work force (or not, in which case you have nobody but yourself to blame and have to look to the benevolence of your fellow men and women for your support). Neither you nor your employer would pay social security taxes (today you pay 6.2% and your employer 6.2%; you only see the former on your paycheck), most likely leaving you with a higher paycheck and more money to invest towards your golden age. And a truly free society would not tax your capital gains and dividends meaning that your returns would be substantially better than today. With just a minimum of savings discipline, the power of compounding would make it close to impossible not to retire comfortably. Hence, without government involvement there would be no need to factor in retirement planning in your voting considerations.
Maybe you are casting your vote to ensure that your children get a good government (public) education? In a truly free society you would not be at the mercy of your local school board and the state and federal Departments of Education. You would be in control of your children’s education. Do you think it would be too expensive? Only under the control of federal, state, and local governments and boards does education get ever more expensive even as quality falters. If left to the free market, education would become cheaper, better, and more efficient (in this context, probably leading to less time in school) just like other products and services. The Walmart of education would spring up in your neighborhood and the online education equivalent of Amazon would offer stiff complementary competition to brick-and-mortar schools. The Khan Academy offers a glimpse of what that may look like. And with property taxes for education a thing of the past you control more of your own money. With education out of the hands of politicians, your vote is of no consequence for your children’s education.
Does access to affordable healthcare factor into your voting decisions? In a truly free society the government would not be able to force a healthcare scheme on you—Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid and the like, and you would not be shackled to your employer for your healthcare needs. You would be empowered to manage your own health care with the marketplace offering you a plethora of health insurance options for catastrophic events, and doctors and other healthcare providers competing for your business with both quality and price. All of healthcare would go the way of Lasik surgery: cheaper and of better quality year over year. And with lower costs would come lower health insurance premiums. As a result of the government leaving you alone, your health would not depend on your vote.
Retirement planning, education and healthcare are the “big three” but this pattern repeats itself in every area of the economy. The respect for our individual rights is threatened in every election so no wonder people are freaking out. Were government involvement curtailed, on the other hand, our vote would be a lot less important, and we would return to a semblance of normalcy where elections came and went without much hoopla.
So what would be left to vote on? In my book, only issues related to the proper role of government of protecting our individual rights: defending our country from foreign aggressors, policing the country domestically, and maintaining the rule of law through the court system. No doubt critically important areas, but nothing compared to how much of your life depends on your vote today. If we’re concerned with perpetual election cycles, with the amount of money being poured into lobbying and elections, with voting fraud and redistricting, and with the excessive power of our politicians, then we need to work to reduce government—cut taxes and government spending, and repeal regulations at the federal, state and local levels. With no tax, spending and regulatory spoils to fight over, the incentives for those who lust for office and those who supply the money to get them elected would be radically diminished, and our right to vote be a lot less consequential. No, it won’t happen the next election or the one after that, but it’s the only solution that will make the conspiracy theories on both ends of the political spectrum fade into memory. As a “shining city on a hill” vision it will serve us well in the fight to retake control of our lives from our rulers—from the smallest county seat to our nation’s capital.
Anders Ingemarson is the editor of SEPARATE! and a runner-up for the Defenders of Capitalism™ Award for 2011. He is a native of Sweden and an American by choice, immigrating to the US in the 1990s and becoming a citizen in 2002. He is the author of Think Right or Wrong, Not Left or Right: A 21st Century Citizen’s Guide. He writes and speaks frequently on public policy issues, free markets, immigration, and advocates for the moral case for separating state and the economy. Anders’ articles have been published in RealClearMarkets, American Thinker, The Federalist and The Objective Standard. He makes guest appearances on talk radio and speaks about and related topics to freedom and liberty minded audiences. He spends his free time enjoying the great outdoors – skiing, hiking, golfing – with his wife Maria, and spending time with like-minded and not so like-minded friends and acquaintances.