Saturday, October 13, 2018

I am not Voting in State Elections

I am proud of my voting record. I show up for primaries. I never cast a vote without an opinion: if I do not know anything about the candidates, then I do not choose among them. I always vote for the candidate, never for the party. (I also contribute money to campaigns, but that is another topic.) This time around, I am not voting in state elections. The reason why is that I am currently serving in the Texas State Guard. Although I have been in for four years, I never considered the arguments before. Now I believe that those who serve in the government should not vote. We in the Texas State Guard are permanent, part-time employees of the State of Texas. Therefore, I will not vote on state office candidates or state ballot proposals. 

As is typical for me, several lines of reasoning came together to form a truth. We have over 300 proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem. The Binomial Theorem builds Pascal’s Triangle. The circumference of a circle, the area of a circle, the surface area of a sphere, and the volume of a sphere were known as synthetic truths for two thousand years before they could be derived analytically by algebra and calculus. A is A. Contradictions do not exist because contradictions cannot exist.

The first line of reasoning came from the cinematic version of Starship Troopers. There, the writers moved a scene from the closing episodes to the opening. In the book (reviewed here), Juan Rico is in officer candidate school when he is presented with a Socratic inquiry on the subject. In the movie, he gets quizzed in high school. In the film, it is short and direct: We require military service as a pre-condition for full citizenship because when you vote, you call upon the full power of the state to do your bidding; and no one should do that who does not understand the consequences. 

The corollary is not stated: as long as you are serving, you have not completed your term of service. And if war is declared, you serve for the duration without voting.
Generals Grant, Marshall, Patton, and Eisenhower
did not vote while serving.
In the real world of planet Earth, among the soldiers who did not vote while in uniform were Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Lt. Gen. George Patton, Gen. George Marshall, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gen. David Petraeus, and Gen. Martin Dempsey. That array came to me from a New York Times op-ed piece by an Army major: “I Fight for Your Right to Vote. But I Won’t do it Myself.” by M. I. Cavanaugh, New York Times, Op-Ed, October 19, 2016, available online here.  
In Good Company Among Non-Voters
 The broad argument there is that politics divides people. “One 2010 study found that over a quarter of military officers reported that another officer tried to influence their vote.”

Statistical surveys of the military show that in the enlisted ranks, Democrats, liberals, Republicans, conservatives, independents, and the uninvolved tend to reflect the American public: we are evenly split and separated by a healthy margin of non-conformists. Within the officer corps, the list to starboard is clear, but even so, about 20% of West Point cadets and about 20% of lieutenants self-identify as liberal or Democrat. The higher you go, the fewer of those you find. 

Whether it is from wisdom or differential selection is not clear. What is clear is that Republicans and conservatives tend to be more vocal in the workplace, though, ironically, less materially committed in real political life. Even so, especially now, both parties put up a military front whenever they can by using people in uniform as symbols for their platforms. Everyone in the military wants more government money spent on the military. Not everyone in uniform wants a border wall or open borders. 



  1. I imagine this is part of why the Founders of the US did not want a large standing army.