Portions of this article were printed in the University Daily Kansan. Click here to read the published version: Cast a vote that reflects principles, not `reality'.
Election Day is almost here. And we hear from the media that most Americans, especially young people, do not vote. They are apathetic and cynical. Here we are, a college campus, filled with these very same people. Is this the way we should by: cynical? No. College is supposed to be filled with the young and idealistic. Today, though, idealistic is practically a naughty word. Almost automatically, naive is attached to it. So we fall under the trap of believing that ideals cannot be implemented into life. That we must be "realistic." We must put up with the failure to run things according to an ideal. We must except the shortcomings of our leaders. This idea is given to us constantly as elections come up. Don't throw away your vote. In other words, don't vote for what you believe: be realistic. Probably the best argument I could present to convince of the fallacy of the wasted vote comes from an episode of the Simpsons. Two aliens kidnap Bill Clinton and Bob Dole (the '96 election) and make copies of their bodies, and run for president in place of them:
Homer: America, take a good look at your beloved candidates.
They're nothing but hideous space reptiles. [unmasks them] [audience gasps
Kodos: It's true, we are aliens. But what are you going to do about it? It's a two-party system; you have to vote for one of us.
[murmurs] Man1: He's right, this is a two-party system.
Man2: Well, I believe I'll vote for a third-party candidate.
Kang: Go ahead, throw your vote away. [Kang and Kodos laugh out loud]
The next day, Kodos announces the result: "All hail, President Kang." The field in front of the Capitol has now become a working ground where humans are whipped by aliens and used to carry materials. The Simpsons family is working too, with Homer and the kids carrying wood, and Marge pushing a wheelbarrow of cinderblocks -- with Maggie on top.
Marge: I don't understand why we have to build a ray gun to aim at a planet I never even heard of.
Homer: Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos.
People have forgotten what voting is supposed to be about. Voting is not important because it decides who is elected. Voting is important because it is your official voice, your chance to give your opinion. Change never comes about by voting for those who keep doing the same thing. Besides, Kansas hasn't given electoral votes (for President) to a non-Republican in 60 something years. So your vote, when it comes down to who will be elected, means nothing. But as a statement of your beliefs, it means everything. No one will know that when you vote for Al Gore, it's because you don't like George Bush, or vice-versa. Instead, it is interpreted as support for the candidate's proposals. I can't urge you enough to vote for what you believe. Vote for your ideals. Don't vote for "the lesser of two evils" to be "realistic."
If you are an undecided voter, or registered to vote and thinking that you might not because of the unattractiveness of the main candidates, then maybe you need to hear about another party: the Libertarians.
Libertarians believe that we should run our government according to the Constitution that all politicians have promised to uphold. They are in favor of individual liberty. Our individual liberty is taken away by a large, expensive, powerful government. Libertarians plan to limit the government to only what is stated in the Constitution. This means getting rid of unconstitutional, unnecessary government programs and regulations. They are in favor getting rid of "victimless crimes," such as the War on Drugs. Libertarians believe you should be able to do as you wish, not as the government dictates, as long as you are not harming or infringing upon the rights of others. The Libertarian presidential candidate, Harry Browne, has a plan to make government small enough to get rid of the federal income tax, supporting the few necessary government functions with tariffs and excise taxes alone.
At some level, the only thing that makes government different from a private organization is the ability to force people to comply with its decisions. Libertarians believe that this use of force is unethical. When the government collects taxes from you, it is taking your money by force. And however the politicians decide to spend it, they have stolen your money, and spent it as they think best. Libertarians believe that each individual knows how to live their own life, and spend their own money, better than any politician.
Many people believe that we need the government to do all of these things they do for us. This is not true. There is nothing magical about the money once the government has it, as opposed to you having it. Almost all government functions can be done privately and usually better. Libertarians are convinced that almost nothing the government has interfered with has become better through the government. Rather, industries such as the computer industry, where government intervention is smallest, are the most successful, and politicians who claim to have helped the economy, are merely riding on their coattails.
The most important thing that Libertarians believe, however, is that we should all be free from domination by the government. And only a vote for a Libertarian will help bring this about. Both Al Gore and George Bush have stated their proposals to spend trillions of dollars taken from you and your fellow citizens. Harry Browne plans to end that. Libertarians will help to keep you free to spend your money and live your life as you decide.
The Libertarian party has room for people who believe in any cause, so long as you do not wish to force people to do what you want by using the government. Libertarians believe that once the government is out of your life, and you can keep your money, private organizations and charities will not only fill the void left by the absence of government, but that those private groups will do a better, more efficient job that our bureaucracy is capable of.
If you agree with Libertarians, or would like more information, or disagree, and would like to debate politics in an intelligent manner, please e-mail KU_liberty@hotmail.com. Also, if you are interested in forming a KU Libertarians campus organization, please e-mail KU_liberty@hotmail.com