Why would a rational person living in a 320 million person mega-democracy cast a vote when the odds of his/her ballot actually counting are between 1 in 10 million and 1 in 100 million depending on what state the voter lives in? Those odds are about as bad as winning the lottery. A single vote has yet to change one presidential election in US history, and that trend will almost certainly continue for many generations to come. This reality keeps most economists from the voting booths; and the few who shamelessly wilt under the pressure of a wife/husband forcing them to the polling station in the name of civic duty often march in reluctantly with the hopes of not being seen by any of their friends.
Many “patriotic” Americans reply to this anti-voting stance with the condescending phrase, “What if everyone thought like that and didn’t vote?” This is of course a ludicrous argument because if everyone thought like that then no one would vote and so an individual vote would become meaningful, and then people would start to vote again. To clarify, there is no fulfillment of a civic duty by wasting one’s time.
And a waste of time is exactly what the current sham of voting has become. For example, even if one were to beat the tens of millions against one odds that their vote were to count in a general election, there is a 50/50 chance that all they would do is force a tie, which would probably leave the decision in the hands of the courts. To make matters worse, this miracle vote would have to happen in a state which was set to decide the election because the electoral system in the US makes individual votes in the broader general election meaningless. More than one presidential candidate has lost an election while garnering the majority of the popular vote.
The whole premise of voting operates under the assumption that the electoral system in America is free of corruption; which the infamous hanging chads debacle in Florida during the 2000 presidential election proved not to be true. As recently as this year, the GOP establishment was caught on several occasions committing voter fraud against Ron Paul, as this article details. A democratic vote is only truly tested when a candidate who challenges the establishment seeks election. While this rarely happens in America (candidates on both sides of the isle take money from the same people and corporations), Ron Paul’s campaign revealed the latent corruption of the American electoral system. If the election is predetermined by the powers that be, then casting a vote is worse than a waste of time. It helps to legitimize a corrupt system.
The final death knell for voting is the politicians’ strong track records of lying about their intentions before they take office. So even if a vote did swing an election from one candidate to another, there is no telling whether the change caused would be beneficial. Those foolish enough to think that they will change the direction of the country by electing a Democrat rather than a Republican or vice versa don’t understand the nature of American politics today. The same corporations and wealthy donors give money to candidates from both parties, and those candidates have a long history of serving these monied interests.
Take Barrack Obama for example. Obama was the quintessential example of a promise of change in American politics. Voters enthusiastically supported what they thought would be the anti-Bush. Obama claimed to stand for ending wars and corporate subsidies. Instead, after his election, Obama abandoned almost every promise he made to the public and served his corporate masters by signing the National Defense Authorization Act, which granted him the authority to kill or indefinitely detain American citizens on American soil. Obama also signed the re-authorized Patriot Act. He even perpetrated a further war in Libya, which turned out to be yet another disaster, instead of promptly exiting the two wars America was currently fighting. Worst of all, he kept the corporate subsidies flowing.
In this election season the American people have a choice between Barrack Obama and Mitt Romney. Both candidates take massive sums of money from Goldman Sachs, and both candidates have gone before AIPAC to outline their plans for selling the American people out for the interests of another nation in order to secure campaign financing.
The most common arguments in favor of voting are, “It’s a civic duty” and “Many have fought for my right to vote.” Neither of these are true or logical. Scores of Americans fought and died for their constitutionally guaranteed rights, not for their right to vote. The Constitution does not guarantee voting rights, but rather leaves it up to the states. Until the Military Reconstruction Act of 1867, most states had property qualifications to vote. Voting does not guarantee freedom, the US Constitution does. In fact, the right to vote without constitutionally guaranteed rights is meaningless. The majority always votes to suppress and steal from the minority. No pure democracy has ever stood the test of time. The only civic duties of an American citizen are to protect the Constitution and obey the constitutional laws legislated in his/her state. In practicality, voting in today’s America fulfills neither of those duties.
If one’s vote isn’t going to decide an election, then it makes at least some sense to cast a symbolic vote for a third party, which would provide support for breaking up the two-party system. If the American people start to see third party candidates getting more and more votes, then they won’t feel like a third party vote is “wasted.” This feeling of wasting a vote is ironic anyway because a vote for an establishment candidate is statistically meaningless any generally wasted anyway, as it is virtually guaranteed not to effect change. A flood of third party votes would eventually snowball as more and more people would start to see the vote as meaningful.
To summarize, in order for a vote to count, one has to beat the ridiculous lottery type odds, then hope the candidate will do what they say they will do, then pray that there is no voter fraud, which would guarantee their vote wouldn’t matter before it was even cast.