Thursday 5 February 2004

Is it safe to vote?

Or is there any point in voting? Thomas DiLorenzo thinks not. Writing about the USA he says:
But America was not founded as a democracy. It was a constitutional republic. The whole purpose of the Constitution, James Madison wrote in Federalist #10, was to control "the violence of faction," by which he meant democracy. That’s why, until the Lincolnian "Civil War Amendments" were added to it, every part of the Constitution was a prohibition of some kind of governmental power or activity. Democracy was made into a "civil religion" by Lincoln and subsequent generations of Lincolnites who have successfully overthrown the constitutional republic of the founding fathers.

These constitutional prohibitions or limitations are all but ignored today, of course. The Constitution does not provide for the central government to get involved in education, let alone sending a man – and untold millions or billions of dollars – to Mars.

Mr DiLorenzo concludes that he should not vote:
That’s why it is unpatriotic to vote. Being patriotic in America means being devoted to the Constitution, if not the natural rights philosophy that motivated much of it. Since neither of the major political parties has any interest whatsoever in enforcing the constitutional limitations on the state, they are all traitors to the Constitution (with one lone exception, Congressman Ron Paul).
But is it safe to vote? I have voted in every election in which I was entitled to participate. I once travelled several miles across London by bus to vote in a local council bye-election in which there was absolutely no chance of a change in party control. The turnout was about twenty percent. It has always seemed the right thing to do for someone interested in politics. Now I am not so sure.

We know that British ballot papers have a reference number that is logged against the voter's individual code. If the state wishes to know how we vote, it can. Surely that wouldn't happen here. A few years ago I would have said no. Now I'm not so certain. As reported over on Samizdata:

Home Secretary David Blunkett wants new anti-terrorism laws to make it easier to convict British terror suspects.

He has discussed lowering the standard of proof required by a court and introducing more pre-emptive action.

Possible plans, revealed on his six-day trip to India and Pakistan, also include keeping sensitive evidence from defendants and secret trials before vetted judges.

As David Carr commented:
The truly frustrating thing here is that not only is Big Blunkett unlikely to be opposed to any meaningful degree (the Conservatives are already weighing in on his side) but his ripping up of our last remaining bulwarks of civil liberty is probably going to make him more popular. That is because civil liberties are unpopular. They are merely the boring obsession of pot-smoking hippies and wishy-washy do-gooders; a shielding sanctuary behind which terrorists and child-molestors can hide from justice.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if this awful government were to start checking how we have voted, although it's fairly obvious that I wouldn't vote for them in a million years. Spoiling one's ballot paper might draw even more attention than voting the "wrong way". Perhaps I've voted for the last time, but I'll still stay up on election night to enjoy seeing the smug smiles removed from the faces of some unexpected losers.