Why I won’t vote in presidential elections

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Joey Kelly notes that the executive branch has strayed from its original Constitutional purpose, and advocates protesting by not voting. Photo by Anthony Garnier.

Almost every American knows that our form of government is founded upon the representation of its citizens through popular election. Many people also believe our government is a democratic republic or just a democracy.

Our founding fathers did not create such a government. They created a Constitutional Republic: a form of government which ingeniously unites the principles of absolute sovereignty, representation and democracy into one single government. This political philosophy may have had multiple starting points, but its foundation can be found in the teachings of Thomas Hobbes.

Hobbes understood the need for government as a consequence of the state of nature. The state of nature is a place where all men have the right to all things. This leads to complete and utter chaos with people killing each other for gain or due to jealousy, without any structured repercussions. Hobbes characterized life in the state of nature as nasty, brutish and short — a state of being in which no one wants to be.

That is how we arrive at his first law of nature, which is that men must leave the state of nature. His second law of nature follows directly from the first law:

“That a man be willing when others are so too, as farre-forth, as for peace, and defense of himself he shall think it necessary to lay down this right to all things.”

From this, we know that one should give up the rights to all things only if everyone else in the state of nature is willing to do so as well. Anything short of this denotes that one is still in the state of nature. Everyone leaves the state of nature by giving up his right to all things to a sovereign.

This sovereign is to set up a system of laws, institutions and customs in order to facilitate peace among his people and keep them out of the state of nature.

This is where things get tricky. In order for the sovereign to fulfill his duty, he must have the right to do all things. If all men must give up their rights to a sovereign in order to leave the state of nature, then how can they give those rights to a person who would, by Hobbes’ definition, be in the state of nature? The answer is simple: They cannot.

We cannot trust anyone who is in the state of nature, which is why people leave the state of nature.

So if the sovereign needs the right to all things but can’t be a human, we are left with only a couple choices. The one our founders chose is the Constitution. We know this because the sovereign is that from which all parts of the government receive their origin and authority.

The United States Constitution established Congress, the president and the Supreme Court. These only exist through the Constitution; therefore, they are operating under its authority. It tells the commonwealth which branch has the right to do what and how to select people to fill certain positions.

How does this relate to why I won’t vote?

Many people will have a problem with my interpretation of the Hobbesian sovereign, but it is almost impossible to deny that the U.S. Constitution is the sovereign of this country.

I believe that my sovereign has been usurped and ousted. The executive has decided to pick and choose which laws to execute; the legislature refuses to create real laws; and the Supreme Court rules on the basis of moral opinion instead of subjective legality or constitutionality.

The executive no longer executes the law objectively; rather, he himself legislates. John Locke said that a government ceases to be that government appointed by a people as soon as the legislative power leaves the legislature; when it is taken by the executor you have a tyranny.

The executive isn’t the only branch of government that has usurped the sovereign. The Supreme Court and Congress are equally to blame: the legislature because it refuses to legislate, and the Supreme Court because it no longer respects our founding fathers.

If the Constitution is sovereign and has been usurped, it means that the government isn’t operating with a predetermined set of rules or regulations, which would dictate their powers and what they have the right to do. In other words, without a higher authority in the government than those officials we elect, we hand the elected officials the right to everything. Their powers are ambiguous, and their rights are without limit.

A common response to such an argument is that these elected officials are still beholden to the people, due to the vote. That is true, but only to a certain extent. We elect our officials, but after the election, there is almost nothing to keep them from using their power without discretion. If re-election is the only thing that keeps elected officials responsible, the highest authority in the government is their individual political agendas.

Without the Constitution, we are electing temporary regimes with completely ambiguous roles, responsibilities and rights. The only way to legitimize this form of government is with your vote. I do not support this because it is a house of cards waiting to be blown over, and I believe this type of government is very irresponsible.

 

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