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Give me feedback on my political essay!

  1. Nov 27, 2005 #1
    It's for english so there's a word limit and I'm not really allowed to go into anything really interesting, but it's not that bad anyways. Tell me what you think.
    I need a better conclusion.. I hate conclusions.
     

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  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 27, 2005 #2

    Gokul43201

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    If it's not too long, you might be better off pasting the text here. It may be hours before someone approves the attachment.
     
  4. Nov 27, 2005 #3
    A Libertarian Response to the Ethics of Majority Voting.
    “Burning and eating ballots-organized nonparticipation-is a waste of effort that might go into actual reform of actual politics” (Bell, 254)
    Non-voters are often subject to criticism by various organizations and interest groups in the public eye. Frequently these criticisms come from corporations, unions, the government and the schools. However, this criticism often completely ignores many important moral and political aspects of non-voting that should be considered. This essay will address a Libertarian perspective that not only is non-voting desirable, but that it should be considered unethical or possibly even violent as well.
    Clearly the voter, by pulling a level and punching a ballot card or by marking an X next to their favourite party, has not directly committed any violent action because no one was directly or immediately harmed from such an action. The case against electoral voting as being violent and unethical rests in four points: First, it enforces the voters will (or their candidate's will) on the rest of the populace. Second, a majority decision does not establish truth, and does not justify the violation of minority rights. Third, it discourages consensus. And last, it shows support for and legitimizes the compulsory state.
    Voting is a broad term, but in a political context it usually refers to a system of electoral voting, which this essay will address. To participate in electoral voting one must first register and meet age and residency requirements. Then a voter will usually mark on a ballot (by various means) which candidate they desire for which available political office. At the end of the election the votes are tallied and the candidate with the majority of votes for any particular political office is given that office. Another form of voting is a referendum. For one to vote in a referendum one must again meet the same age and residency requirements, and then mark one’s vote on the issue in question. At the end of the voting all the votes are tallied and if the majority of voters voted for the motion, it is passed into law, and if the majority voted against the motion, it is dropped.
    Violence is also somewhat ambiguous. The kind of violence referred to in this essay is the use or threat of physical force. If a person, through use or threat of physical violence, alters or intends to alter the way in which individuals use their body or property, that person is committing an act of violence.
    The first of the points mentioned above is a Libertarian argument. Libertarianism is the political doctrine that asserts freedom and individual liberty should be the highest priority of any political structure and hold that any restriction of individual freedom, except when an individual tries to harm another, is an unethical action. The Libertarian argues that democracy is unethical because the state will impose the decisions of the majority voters upon the rest of the population which limits the individual’s autonomy (right or capability to independence and self-rule) and personal freedom. Robert Klassen writes this on the topic of voting in the US “We allow the state to teach our children that majority rule in political government is good, proper, and fair. The state does not teach our children that the authors of the Constitution were mortally afraid of majority rule and that they expended every effort to prevent it, an effort which was subsequently subverted. The state does not teach our children that when a majority rules, a minority is ruled. The concept of political democracy was flawed at its birth in ancient Greece and has remained flawed ever since precisely because a majority of people elect which self-interest will be enforced by arms, which ultimately and inevitably leads to the use of those self-same arms against the majority, the minority, and every living thing in sight.”
    This perspective of majority rule argues that voting is nothing more than the majority enforcing it’s will on the minority and since the minority has no way of defending it’s self against this, it will lead to either passive acceptance by the minority, or violent coercion if they resist. The voter, by participating in electoral politics, will either end up the minority, where he is unheard, or the majority, where his will is imposed upon the rest of the minority. Furthermore, regardless of whether the voter ends up in the minority or in the majority he, by the act of voting alone, helps legitimize the system of majority voting. This essay will address this in more detail further on.
    A majority vote does not determine truth or falsity. In formal logic arguing that something is true because everyone believes it, or because the majority of people believe it, is called an “appeal to popularity” and is a fallacy. Merely because everyone thinks that the sun orbits around the earth does not make it so. Similarly, just because the majority of citizens think that a certain tax policy will result in a better economy does not make it so. This can be further extended to ethics and legal rights. If a majority of the population decide that only Caucasians should be allowed to vote, this does not make it ethical.
    Another important aspect of the Libertarian perspective is the Anarchist argument. “Government by its very nature must govern. To govern is to dictate. All governments are dictatorships of one form or another. They may be one-man dictatorships, constitutional dictatorships, dictatorships in republican or democratic form, majority rule dictatorships, dictatorships by bureau or what have you. But the fact remains that to govern is to dictate.” (Hoiles)
    This explanation given by Harry Hoiles is the essence of the Anarchist argument. The state is an institution meant to govern and control, or to dictate, the population within the territory it claims sovereignty over. The very definition of the state is “The supreme public power within a sovereign political entity.” (Houghton Mifflin Company). The state is therefore in a position of control in society. The state, the Anarchist would argue, restricts individual liberty and autonomy by making decisions, such as on criminal laws and economic policy, directly for the rest of the people in their territory, rather than letting them decide for themselves how to run their lives and their communities.
    Consensus decision-making is the process that not only seeks the general agreement of most participants but also to resolve or mitigate the objections of the minority to achieve the most agreeable decision. This does not mean that a decision must be made that everyone agrees with, but that no member’s objections are too strong that they would be oppressed, this is sometimes explained as “Meeting everyone’s needs”. There are several practical examples of this in international organizations such as the World Trade Organization, which makes no decision without the general agreement of all members. Also, all permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have a veto and thus any motion, even if the other 4 members vote for it, will not pass if one of the Security Council members objects strongly enough to use its veto (United Nations). However, those 5 members can still impose their collective will on the rest of the UN members.
    Creating an institutional policy that legitimizes and encourages the act of majority rule results in discouraging consensus because the majority have an easy way to establish their authority and thus impose their will upon the dissenting minority. The Libertarian sees a political system of consensus as necessary to make sure everyone has a degree of autonomy and can maintain their individual freedom from being imposed by the majority.
    As established earlier, the voter, by participating in the electoral process, serves to accomplish two things: First, they’re will is imposed upon the minority if their vote wins. And second, whether they are the majority or the minority they serve to legitimize the political system of majority rule.
    The consensus among political scientists and the general public that high voter turnouts are desirable is because the high voter turnout is seen as evidence of the legitimacy of the current system. This is because a very low voter turnout is seen as likely resulting in unfair representation for the populous and a high voter turnout is praised as leading to everybody having a fair say in their government. Dictators have often fabricated high turnouts in showcase elections for this very purpose. For example, in 2002 Saddam Hussein’s referendum was claimed to have had 100% participation (CNN). Also, opposition parties often boycott votes that they feel are unfair or illegitimate. For example, in 2001 Pakistani Christian groups boycotted the Pakistan elections, protesting the “religious apartheid” in the political system (BBC).
    So why is legitimizing the majority state necessarily unethical or violent in it's self? Firstly, it’s supporting the governmental system of majority rule which, as this essay addressed above, Libertarians would argue results in violent suppression of minority rights. If a state is not seen as legitimate in its proceedings it will find it very difficult to gain public support for any of its motions. In a democracy the police and military are taken from the people and feel a certain responsibility for them, the Libertarian argues that after the majority rule government loses support of the people, they will also soon lose support of those who would enforce it.
    Wendy McElroy wrote an article in 1997 titled “Why I would not vote against Hitler”. In this article she explains the Libertarian arguments about the ethics of voting and then criticizes the democratic state saying “the essential problem is not Hitler, but the institutional framework that allows a Hitler to grasp a monopoly on power. Without the state to back him up and an election to give him legitimized power, Hitler would have been, at most, the leader of some ragged thugs who mugged people in back alleys. Voting for or against Hitler would only strengthen the institutional framework that produced him - a framework that would produce another of his ilk in two seconds”. She explains that it was not actually Hitler that committed any horrible acts of genocide; it was the institution of the state that both empowered him and then carried out his orders in his name. And it is the state and the institutional framework that empowered him that carries blame as well the individuals.
    Hitler knew this too; he recognized his power was not personal. And he expressed this in his will, stating that “What I possess belongs -- in so far as it has any value -- to the Party. Should this no longer exist, to the State, should the State also be destroyed, no further decision of mine is necessary.” (United States, 259) Hitler did not possess any power except for that invested in him by the state and employees of the state. And, if it had not been for the voters who legitimized the state investing that power in him, then he would not have had enough popular and political support to seize dictatorial powers, let alone to start operating death camps and commit the atrocities we all know him for today. Hitler’s power was legitimized by the democratic majority when he was voted into office, and again when the state allowed him to gain dictatorial powers.
    In summary, the process of majority voting serves two harmful or unethical purposes: To impose the majority decision on the minority which is not necessarily ethical or right, and to discourage consensus in politics. These externalities of the democratic state are supported by the voter who, by the process of participation, legitimizes and supports the political system of majority rule.
    All of these points are very important considerations on the topic of electoral voting. However they receive almost no publicity and groups such as the Edible Ballot Society or the Non-Voters League are consistently criticized for being immature, undemocratic and thus counterproductive towards a free and just society. In response the Edible Ballot Society says “Voting is really an insignificant act compared to the greater goal of creating authentic democracy. We need to participate in forging real communities through everyday acts of resistance and community building. A vote every couple of years is not democracy, it's repressive. Get over it.” It’s time for the public to give these ethical views some real consideration.
     
  5. Nov 27, 2005 #4

    Gokul43201

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    Yikes :eek: I ain't gonna read that !! :biggrin:

    PS : Missing a comma after 'clearly' - first word of second paragraph. There...done my bit !
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2005
  6. Nov 27, 2005 #5
    conclusions should be either predicitons or recommendations, is yours one of those two?
     
  7. Nov 27, 2005 #6

    Math Is Hard

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    This is good writing, Smurf. The only parts that bothered me a little bit are where you say "This essay will..." I am just not used to seeing the author state specifically what the essay is going to do. I think if you could rework that phrasing it would be a big improvement and would give it a much nicer flow.
     
  8. Nov 27, 2005 #7

    Pengwuino

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    I agree with MIH, essays should NEVER say "this essay will..."
     
  9. Nov 27, 2005 #8
    i learned that it's ok to state the purpose of the paper, i don't have a problem with that.
     
  10. Nov 27, 2005 #9
    how do you two suggest I rework it then?
     
  11. Nov 27, 2005 #10
    Yes, it's a recommendation. It just doesn't feel right. Doesn't seem like a strong enough ending.
     
  12. Nov 27, 2005 #11
    Thanks, didn't catch that.

    It's easier to read in word, it's double spaced.

    (it's 2080 words, the limit was 2000. I hope she won't notice/care)
     
  13. Nov 27, 2005 #12

    Math Is Hard

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    Just a thought, but you might do something like this for the first instance:

    From a Libertarian perspective, not only is non-voting
    (un?)desirable, but it could be considered unethical or possibly even violent, as well.
     
  14. Nov 27, 2005 #13

    Gokul43201

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    Glad you brought that up. That sentence didn't make sense to me. After reading it five times over, I gave up on it, went to the next word, found an error, went a few words past, stumbled again and quit. Sounded to me like the second clause was actually about voting, rather than non-voting.

    PS : I haven't voted in Canada...so forgive my ignorance here, but what is this "level" that the voters there pull ?
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2005
  15. Nov 27, 2005 #14
    heh, I knew posting this here was a good idea. Thanks for posting those (not so) obvious mistakes.
     
  16. Nov 27, 2005 #15
    First glance, this is what I found. Fix it. :smile:
     
  17. Nov 27, 2005 #16
    I glanced through the first sentences, and read the last couple of paragraphs. Your presentation is competent enough, but is a little lacking in originality. How old are you again?
     
  18. Nov 27, 2005 #17
    Should be "their".
     
  19. Nov 27, 2005 #18
    End of page two
    You seem to make this mistake quite often. I would search for it's and make sure it's used just like I did and not trying to show possession.

    EDIT: Right after that, sentance after I think
    it's=it is
    I used to make that mistake all the time too :/
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2005
  20. Nov 27, 2005 #19
    eighteen. sue me.
     
  21. Nov 27, 2005 #20
    Yeah.. I know it's wrong but I keep doing it. Thanks.
     
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