Gordon Tullock in "Voting Schmoting" from Tilapia Film on Vimeo.
In the video above, the great economist Gordon Tullock (best known for his work in public choice theory with 1986 Nobel Prize-winner James Buchanan) explains why he doesn't vote. Quite simply, says Tullock, his vote doesn't decide elections and thus doesn't matter.
“People think they should vote because they’ve been told that in school, and there’s a large volume of propoganda at any point in time," says Tullock. "Many people are under great delusions as to the importance of their vote. They think their vote makes a lot of difference, but as a matter of fact it doesn’t.”
But, but, but...what if everyone behaved like Tullock and declined to vote?
In the event, quips Tullock, he'd start voting, as his vote would then decide the whole election.
I share Tullock's rational lack of interest in voting, but I'd also offer one more reason why, perhaps, members of academia, the media, and the policy research field ought not to vote. The primary focus of these professions should be about dispassionate analysis and skepticism toward all sides of any policy debate. I wonder, though, if the act of voting for a certain candidate or policy doesn't flip a certain small bias switch in the voter's brain, making that person more inclined to be defensive about that candidate or policy even in the face of evidence which should demand criticism. Of course, I have no empirical research at hand to back up my suspicions on this account, so if you do work in any of these fields, don't let me make up your mind about whether or not to vote.
And finally, just because you don't exercise your right to vote does not mean you're not availing yourself of your rights as a free individual or living up to what you see as your "civic duty." Indeed, if you truly want to affect change in your country's public policies, you'll likely have a much greater impact by writing letters to the editor of your local newspaper, discussing (in as friendly a way as possible) matters of public policy with your friends and family, or - and this may be the best way of all - getting out into your community and volunteering to solve the problems around you rather than hoping that your inconsequential vote might ripple through the atmosphere and somehow solve them for you.
Besides, as PJ O'Rourke puts it, when you vote, you just encourage the bastards.
Don Boudreaux, "I Won't Vote"
Katherine Mangu-Ward, "Your Vote Doesn't Count"
h/t: Mark Perry