Monday, November 06, 2006

Your Sacred Duty to Vote: A Parable

A most curious thing happened the other day. I was reading the paper one morning when I heard a knock on the door. I hadn't been expecting a visitor, but I quickly got up and opened the door. On my front step, to my surprise, was my next-door neighbor, holding a baseball bat in his hands.

"Uh… Can I help you?" I asked.

He nodded eagerly, and said, "I'm in the mood for a game. You'll flip a coin. If it comes up heads, I'll break both of your legs. If it comes up tails, I'll break your arms. I play this game with all the neighbors every few years. Sounds pretty fun, don't you think? You're lucky; in some places people don't get to play my game." He smiled, clearly quite pleased with himself.

"This is absurd!" I exclaimed. "I'm not playing your game. Get off my property!"

He sighed, looking very hurt. "Fine," he said. "I'll flip the coin." He produced a quarter from his pocket and tossed it into the air. It landed on the concrete path in front of my house, heads facing up. "Well, the coin has spoken." Before I could react, he swung the bat, hitting me in the leg. I gasped and sank to one knee. He swung again and again at my shins, leaving me sprawled on the ground.

Through the pain, I cried out, "You broke my legs!"

"Well, yes," he replied. "The coin came up heads. What are you so upset about, anyway?"

Incredulous, I yelled, "You have no right to go around beating people up!"

He seemed baffled at this. "Sure I do. You consented to this when you chose to live on the same block as me. Besides, you refused to exercise your right to flip the coin, like I offered. If you won't participate in my game, you have no right to complain about the outcome."

His reasoning seemed a bit off to me, but I was in too much pain for any deep logical analysis. "Well," he continued, "It's been a pleasure serving you, but I've got to get going. Lots of houses left to visit today. See you in two years!" With that he smiled, gave a polite nod, and was on his way.
Okay, I'm being a bit silly here. But the "If you don't vote, you can't complain" argument has always annoyed me, and my natural habit is to think in analogies and metaphors.

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Chip said...

I like your metaphor.

I voted, early here in Florida. No Libertarians on my ballot, so I voted for the impressive Independent for Governor, Max Linn, who tore into both mainstream candidates and who certainly sounded like a libertarian.

Then I voted against every incumbent. Then, wanting to vote "against all," I found the process too difficult with the touch-screen, re a write-in, so just skipped many.

The process felt entirely futile. I wonder if this will be a record low turnout.

Another possible topic: Why isn't the Libertarian Party talking to the Constitution Party about combining some campaign efforts?

Chip said...

John -- there are precious few blog sites on which to record our thoughts for posterity. So, with you presumed consent, I'd like to register mine about Iraq here. At this point in the day, I have no clue as to the outcome of the elections. In fact, I'm glad the media seem to be keeping their yaps shut so far.

I believe that Iraq is the biggest motivator for change among those voters who vote outside their normal pattern. I also believe, that should the Democrats take both the Congress and Senate, we will not, as those voters might have presumed, be making any short-term plans to get out of Iraq. There an infinite number of "reasons," of course, and they will be trotted out and there will be the customary finger-pointing, but the U.S. will not pull out because what we see is not what we will be getting. And I do not believe it is over oil, either. This all ties into a fable I'd loke to post later, involving foreign aid.