Lysander Spooner argued that voting was a legitimate means of self-defense against the State, and noted that many supporters of the State consider both voting and abstention to be acknowledgments of the State’s legitimacy.
I have swung like a pendulum to varying degrees and extremes regarding government, the State, politics, voting, and ideology. Since you’re reading this then perhaps you have experienced this as well. I have supported candidates, worked grassroots campaigns, and gathered signatures for petitions. My political philosophy evolved to eventually rejecting the legitimacy of the State and refusal to vote. My reason being was I did not want to give the State legitimacy. But, as Spooner states, “…abstention to be acknowledgments of the State’s legitimacy”. It does not render it harmless, useless, or even illegitimate in so far as the violence it imposes on us.
My adamant refusal to vote, to participate in the evil that is the State, has been rescinded (to a point). I will vote for certain measures that will reverse some evils. For example, I will be voting “yes” on SQ788 which will legalize medical cannabis. While I advocate a complete repeal of prohibition because I am a huge proponent of (personal) freedom, the passage of SQ788 will alleviate the pain and suffering of thousands of individuals here in Oklahoma.
I have looked into the eyes of parents who are desperate to save their children’s lives and, for many, cannabis offers them hope. I’ve met children who are suffering from their ailments and the pharmaceuticals that are wreaking havoc on their tiny bodies. I’ve spoken with veterans who are living a nightmare because of their traumas and the medications that are being forced upon them by the system. Cannabis offers them a gentle, healing alternative. I refuse to be so dogmatic in ideology that I would deny an opportunity to act that could alleviate the pain and suffering of my brothers and sisters.
Some have argued that it is against their principles to participate in the system via voting. I made this very argument myself at one time. I ask, regarding principle, do your principles dictate that you’d refuse to move to a cannabis-friendly state where other voters reversed laws so that you could treat your child without risk of the State kidnapping them and you? How far will one go on principle to reject the opportunity to help their fellow man?
Here is another consideration. On the federal level, cannabis is still illegal. States that have legalized cannabis rendered the fed’s position illegitimate. Is this not a sort of sweet justice?
Sadly, we have been forced into this system and while there are plenty of people still willing to use government as a weapon against their neighbor (taxation, bonds, terrible reps, unjust laws) there are opportunities where we can reverse some of those and do something good with it. SQ788 won’t force anyone to use cannabis against their will. It won’t force people to buy it. Instead, it will keep peaceful people out of cages. Parents can treat their children with peace of mind and veterans will have a much safer alternative and a choice in their treatments. All of us will have access to something our bodies need for treatment and prevention. Regarding principle, I would much rather be judged for acting out of empathy and compassion where my actions will do no harm. I did not choose this battlefield and I can use the State as a weapon against itself. There are cases where voting will prevent fewer people falling victim to the State and that is in alignment with my principles. It is a humanitarian action.
“Because, to save his own life in battle, a man takes the lives of his opponents, it is not to be inferred that the battle is one of his own choosing. Neither in contests with the ballot – which is a mere substitute for a bullet – because, as his only chance of self- preservation, a man uses a ballot, is it to be inferred that the contest is one into which he voluntarily entered; that he voluntarily set up all his own natural rights, as a stake against those of others, to be lost or won by the mere power of numbers. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, in an exigency into which he had been forced by others, and in which no other means of self-defense offered, he, as a matter of necessity, used the only one that was left to him.” – No Treason The Constitution of No Authority Part II-3