Individual freedom and election eve


“Freedom is not about having the right ruler. Oh, wait, yes it is. Freedom is understanding that I am the boss of me.” – Warren Bluhm (hey, that’s me!)

I turn a large chunk of the time you might usually spend with me to Samuel Smiles, who began his epic book Self-Help with these words:

“Heaven helps those who help themselves” is a well-tried maxim, embodying in a small compass the results of vast human experience.  The spirit of self-help is the root of all genuine growth in the individual; and, exhibited in the lives of many, it constitutes the true source of national vigour and strength.  Help from without is often enfeebling in its effects, but help from within invariably invigorates.  Whatever is done for men or classes, to a certain extent takes away the stimulus and necessity of doing for themselves; and where men are subjected to over-guidance and over-government, the inevitable tendency is to render them comparatively helpless.

Even the best institutions can give a man no active help.  Perhaps the most they can do is, to leave him free to develop himself and improve his individual condition.  But in all times men have been prone to believe that their happiness and well-being were to be secured by means of institutions rather than by their own conduct.  Hence the value of legislation as an agent in human advancement has usually been much over-estimated.  To constitute the millionth part of a Legislature, by voting for one or two men once in three or five years, however conscientiously this duty may be performed, can exercise but little active influence upon any man’s life and character.  Moreover, it is every day becoming more clearly understood, that the function of Government is negative and restrictive, rather than positive and active; being resolvable principally into protection — protection of life, liberty, and property.  Laws, wisely administered, will secure men in the enjoyment of the fruits of their labour, whether of mind or body, at a comparatively small personal sacrifice; but no laws, however stringent, can make the idle industrious, the thriftless provident, or the drunken sober.  Such reforms can only be effected by means of individual action, economy, and self-denial; by better habits, rather than by greater rights.

A pastor friend of mine said this week, “Someone or other will be president. And Jesus Christ will still be King.”

A good number of my friends choose not to vote, believing that the very act participates in and gives consent and succor to an illegitimate system. I don’t disagree with these friends.

A Scott Adams cartoon of many years ago showed the boss lecturing Wally that if he doesn’t vote, “Then you have no right to complain about the result.” “I’m pretty sure I do,” Wally replied, recognizing the meaning of free speech better than the pointy-haired guy.

I have no illusions that the winner of Tuesday’s election will win my state by a single vote, and so I always vote for the person on the ballot whose views and qualifications most closely align with my beliefs – if such a person exists. I don’t believe that my choices are limited to two people, this year more than ever. I don’t consider that a wasted vote; to me a wasted vote would be for someone whose views represent me in virtually no way.

While the presidential race offers no acceptable choices this year, I do respect several of the people running for other offices and will be tendering my minuscule chad for those folks. Maybe they’ll win, maybe not. My point is that in a representative republic, people should vote for folks who best represent us – nothing more, nothing less – and that our lives change for the better from within, not from the results of an election.