Republicans are almost certainly going to take control of the U.S. Senate in today’s elections across the United States. Conservatives are excited and progressives are trembling. There’s change in the air. It’s a revolution.
But haven’t we seen this movie before?
In 1994, Republicans gained a staggering 54 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to take control. They were running against President Bill Clinton and attacking Big Government in a mid-term election. It was the Newt Gingrich-led Republican Revolution. Remember the Contract with America? It was going to change everything and reduce the size of government. How did that work out in the long run?
In 2006, Democrats picked up 31 seats in U.S. House elections to give control back to Nancy Pelosi and Co. In these mid-term elections, Democrats ran against President George W. Bush and his alleged attempts to hurt poor people and wage perpetual war around the world. Progressives promised to use their power to stop Republicans from continuing various wars. What changed for us in the long run?
Time after time, one party or the other has held power and the other party has taken power by promising change. But the two parties simply swap the seats of power like some giant game of musical chairs. If you believe in individual freedom and have watched this long enough, you come to realize that their promises of big change don’t come true.
Republicans tell us that they’re going to reduce the size of government, but they never deliver. Democrats tell us they’re going to stop wars and create more social freedom, but they don’t deliver, either.
Government continues to get bigger under Republicans. The U.S. government keeps killing people around the world and creating new enemies under Democrats. The few signs of good news that appear every now and then mostly arise spontaneously out of changing public attitudes — and then politicians follow along and pretend it was their idea.
In other words, when each party tells you your vote is going to change everything, it’s a lie. All it means is that one group of politicians will win a great game against another set of politicians.
Hiding behind their rhetoric is the reality that very little is going to change. If you vote Tuesday, nothing of substance is going to change — and the odds of your individual vote changing anything is precisely zero. To claim that your vote will change things is a lie, especially if you desire individual freedom for all.
Republicans are now telling you that if you’ll vote for them Tuesday, everything will change. They’ll take control of the U.S. Senate and defeat the Obama administration in various ways. If you’re counting on that happening, you’re going to be disappointed.
I won’t be voting, as has been my practice for years now. More and more responsible and principled people are doing the same, for two reasons.
First, it won’t matter. Your vote isn’t going to achieve anything. And even if the party whose rhetoric you prefer wins, the politicians of that party won’t do what they promise to do.
Second, and even more important, the system is immoral. I don’t have the right to make rules and force you to follow them, even if the majority of people happen to agree with the rules I believe in. It’s immoral to participate in a system that uses force to impose the will of one group on another. That’s all the political system is — a contest to see who gets to control the monopoly of force to impose its will. That is evil.
Politicians aren’t going to save you. They’re not going to bring about the utopia you hope for. Even if they could, the use of coercive power to do it would be wrong.
Real change is going to come when we’re able to find ways to achieve an entirely different kind of system, one in which individuals control their own lives and property. One in which people and groups can set their own rules for their own property or cities or enclaves. A place where groups of people don’t impose their will on each other.
As long as you and your enemies keep trying to impose their will on each other, you’re going to be disappointed and you’ll both be locked into an immoral system.
It’s time to stop voting and start talking honestly about real change instead.
Note: If you’d like to hear more about my own experience in coming to this conclusion, here’s an interview Ben Stone of the Bad Quaker podcast conducted with me almost two years ago.