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Voting: parties of death

My thoughts this morning turned to voting after I read, and mostly agreed with, this manifesto by Alan Jacobs. It describes his path through the standard parties to his current practice (mine too) of voting only for third-party candidates or write-ins who actually express his own convictions. Maybe we differ in that I’m almost more attracted to not voting at all.

Some link-chasing took me to Wikipedia’s interesting article on compulsory voting, which is more widespread than I’d thought. It’s enforced in a range of countries from democratic Australia to totalitarian North Korea, which follows the old Soviet model: voting is required, and there’s only one name on the ballot. In my Facebook days I had an Australian FB friend who mentioned the mandatory vote, and of course my first question was how to vote for None of the Above. My friend said that there’s no law against turning in a blank ballot: you’re just required to show up at the polls and turn in a ballot.

From the Jacobs piece:

In the 1980s I came to believe what I still believe: That almost no elected politicians have principles that they’re willing to stake their careers on, and those who have such principles typically last a single term in office; that the rare politician who has integrity almost certainly lacks courage, while those who have courage lack integrity; that the extremely rare politician who has both courage and integrity will surely lack judgment; that the members of both major parties care primarily about getting and keeping power, secondarily about exerting that power over the powerless, and beyond that about nothing else whatsoever; that both parties are parties of death, differing only on their preferred targets (though they are equally fond, it seems, of military action in Asia); that the only meaningful criterion by which to judge who to vote for is encapsulated in the question Who will do less damage to our social fabric?

And because they’re all going to do damage, just of different kinds, for the last thirty years I have voted for third-party or write-in candidates.