The core ideas for the following essay were conceived by a loyal reader. Like many of you, he feels that he is at a crossroads, and has an agonizing dilemma. If you read this post, I think you will understand.
Please understand: I do not, by writing this essay, advocate violating any law, or engaging in any violent acts. When I say I am not advocating violence, I mean it. I don’t even want you to swat a fly. If you do swat a fly after reading this essay, you have misread the piece.
Over time, a dollar is worth less with every passing decade. The candy bar that cost your grandfather 1 or 2 cents in 1930 costs you 95 cents now. What you may not realize is that your vote is also worth less with each passing decade.
There are at least three factors that have caused this devaluation in your vote.
Protection — The well-documented tools used by incumbents to protect their seats have made it increasingly difficult to vote them out. Gerrymandering creates safe districts where incumbents need not spend as much money as their opponents to protect their interests — and their seats. They use the money and privileges that come with their office to convince dullards to vote for them. In California in particular, the safety of incumbents’ seats has become a joke, that renders efforts to oust them quixotic at best — because of the protection that incumbents have from being voted out of office. In addition, in a presidential election the makeup of blue states and red states means that most votes simply don’t matter. A small handful of undecideds in a small group of swing states decides everything for the rest of us.
Dilution — Over time, as our population increases, your vote becomes worth less and less. This problem is exacerbated by factors such as voter fraud. Oh, I know: the liberals all assure us that there is no such thing. But let’s just take one likely rich vein of illegal votes: votes cast by illegal immigrants. What’s that, you say? Votes cast by illegal immigrants? Yes. Estimates say that there are anywhere from 10 million to 18 million illegal immigrants in the country. This means millions are of voting age. What’s more, many of them are experts at obtaining false documents, allowing them to work, drive, and participate in all other aspects of civic life. Do we really think that none of them vote? None? Let’s go with a conservative estimate of 10,000,000 illegal immigrants. If only one percent of them vote — just one percent! — that’s 100,000 illegal votes. That is voter fraud on a massive scale — certainly enough to tip a close election. This sort of thing dilutes your vote.
Negation — Let’s say that by some miracle, your vote negotiates the minefield of the first two obstacles discussed above. Like a lone sperm cell at the end of its improbable journey, your vote surmounts the obstacles in its way, and ends up having meaning. Let’s say, for example, that you end up successfully passing a law that says your state is finally going to do something about illegal immigration — or that your state is going to preserve the traditional view of marriage. Guess what happens now? That’s right: you may end up finding the results of your vote challenged in court. For example, on gay marriage, the vote of 7 million Americans was overturned by the overreaching of a single federal judge, who misstated the strength of the arguments advanced by the law’s defenders, and who arguably has a stake in the outcome, after hearing a trial where the nominal defendants (the Governor and Attorney General) refused to fulfill their obligation to defend the law. In Arizona, portions of an immigration law were stayed after the Mexican government filed an amicus brief — as if Mexico has more say in how Arizona should handle immigration issues than Arizona.
The increasing devaluation of your vote, due to the above three factors, is a fundamental problem that threatens the very stability of our democracy.
The importance of the purity and sanctity of the vote in American could be analogized to the importance of the liver in the body. Yes, there are impurities in the system, but when you have a meaningful vote (or a working liver), in theory it cleans everything out. When your vote means something, anything can happen in an election.
The compact that holds us all together is the idea that we all have an equal shot to change the system when it fails us. And make no mistake: the system is failing us — and worse, it is failing our children, whose votes will be devalued not only by the above factors, but by the disastrous financial policies that we seem powerless to stop, which will circumscribe our children’s choices and render their votes an ever-increasing nullity.
When we look back at our forebears — those people so enraged by taxation without representation that they threw tea into Boston harbor — how do you think they would feel now? Would they passively accept the increased impotence of our citizenry? Or would they be angrier today than they were back then?
Is it silly to consider this question? After all, their pictures adorn the wall on every second-grade classroom in the country. Yet we seem to proceed on the assumption that the outrages that motivated them to revolution constituted a unique set of circumstances that is unlikely to recur. But is that really true?
Thanks to the above trends, we have less democracy now than we have ever had in this country.
What is to be done about this? It seems that we have two choices. One is to simply continue to take it. And the other is to do something. And if we are to do something, what would that be??
To say the solution lies at the ballot box, given the above trends, and the argument of this essay, seems foolish. Voting for the lesser of two evils is, of course, better than voting for the greater. But is it actually satisfactory?
At what point, in a country founded on the principle that there can be no taxation without representation, do we say enough is enough? At what point do we conclude that we essentially have no representation — that voting is simply a Soviet-bloc style formality, such as we had in Iraq under Saddam, in Cuba under Fidel, or the USSR under Brezhnev?
At what point do we conclude that this exercise in democracy is merely a ceremony without meaning?
And when we get to that point, what do we do?
The one thing I know is: we can’t do anything illegal or violent. Even swatting a fly.
Which leaves us what other option?