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Voting as a Self-Affirming Consumer Choice, An Ongoing Series



Three guesses as to who published an essay with this punchline, and the first two don’t count:

In a truly democratic system, we’d have more competent, diverse candidates. Voting no longer provides me the indulgence and satisfaction it once did. I feel it does more harm than good with our current political climate. If I vote for Clinton as a rejection of Trump, or vote for Sanders to dodge a Clinton vote, what duty am I actually performing? When I vote for a president I don’t support, I support a flawed political system. I refuse that system.

I suppose this is all self-refuting, but:

  • Just as I wish more people on the right endorsed the idea that vanity candidates were the optimal way of bully pulpiting the Overton Window on steroids, I wish more people on the right believed that not voting was a threat to the system and didn’t put so much effort into things like Shelby County, vote suppression efforts, and so on. Unfortunately, in this respect movement conservatives generally know what they’re doing.
  • I can understand preferring an electoral system that incentivizes multiple parties over one that incentivizes a two-party system. I do not understand the assumption that putting together coalitions ex ante rather than ex post is somehow antidemocratic.
  • On a related point, putting together coalitions ex post doesn’t in any meaningful sense solve the “lesser evil” problem. You might be able to vote for a candidate closer to your preferences, but to accomplish anything they would still have to formally or informally collaborate with the Lieberman For Connecticut For America Party. Adding an additional step to the process of coalition formation doesn’t somehow give you cleaner hands, although if you’re the kind of person who thinks that shopping at thrift stores is striking a major blow on behalf of Bangladeshi textile workers you might like to pretend otherwise.
  • The idea that not voting brings us closer to an electoral system in which you always get to vote for a viable candidate who agrees with all of your views is…missing many causal links. On the other hand, progressives not voting leads to horrible material consequences for many people.

I’ll outsource the rest to Schoenkopf.

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