Alasdair MacIntyre — a philosopher-theologian who has influenced Margaret and me greatly — makes a case for not voting, even in this fraught year. We’ve fallen on each side of this puzzle at various times, and every year we revisit the subject, but MacIntyre makes an articulate case for one rationale for abstaining.
The basic economic injustice of our society is that the costs of economic growth are generally borne by those least able to afford them and that the majority of the benefits of economic growth go to those who need them least.
Margaret and I tend to take a different tack — but it’s satisfying to see somebody intelligent mounting an argument against voting, whether or not it’s the one that finally might motivate us.
6 thoughts on “Unseasonable Sense”
In a world where non-voting is ambiguous at best, MacIntyre is flat out wrong.
What is true that voting, in itself, doesn’t change much. The symbol of voting, however, does have some significance that shouldn’t be undervalued. I think that the risk is assuming that Kerry will change everything. yet, there will still be imperialism, there will still be a military-industrial complex, and there will still be poverty. But even an anarchist should vot – if only to create breathing space for change in other parts of our lives to occur.
But, if I may say so, I feel like the choice is between Empire fun by Democrats, and the Jacobins of the religious right. Not a great choice, but we’ve seen what happens when the Jacobins are in power.
What Trevor said. But thanks for the link! It’s most interesting in light of my Ethics course.
Does he live at the poverty line in order to pay no taxes or is this more an intellectual detachment?
I am a little surprised to hear MacIntyre holds that sort of position (er and having read After Virtue a little surprised to hear that a fan of postmodernism would like MacIntyre, but hey 🙂 ), but I can sympathize. In 2000 I, uh, voted for Bush. It was an attempt to make the best decision in face of two candidates whose platforms I considered immoral. It just so happened that within a year I was convinced I had made the wrong decision, and felt very bad about it, realizing my vote may have had life-or-death implications of a sort completely different than I had expected (though indeed since I voted in Indiana there is no way my vote made any difference directly).
I came very close to not voting this year for any race, but especially the presidency. In the end I was persuaded otherwise and I went to the polls relatively guilt free (and voted a protest – Nader – since, again, it doesn’t matter who I vote for Indiana), but I have thought a lot about this. So, I guess I in part did what MacIntyre is talking about (Nader is after all against the system anyway, at least at a procedural if not spiritual level). (I do fail to see why MacIntyre doesn’t suggest voting for some alternative, though – not that there was a specific one this year, since none of the other national candidates was pro-life.)
I do have a plan to fix the system in 2008 though, so that makes me feel better 🙂 (In short, somebody should run a candidate that upholds all of the things MacIntyre talks about; demographically that should split the vote right down the center with about 40% by my estimate, and leave the supposed liberals and the conservatives/libertarians out in the cold. But then again… riiiight.)
Thanks for the link at any rate. Very interesting.