Democracy is often viewed as a necessary component of freedom: for if a country does not have democracy, it must be ruled by a tyrannical dictator. People often proclaim that democracy gives us a choice—a say in government. If there was not a democracy, there would not be freedom. Indeed, the general population believes that they are “free” from tyrannical government because “they” have a say. In truth, this not the case. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once famously said, “[n]one are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” Indeed, we are all slaves to our master we call “government.” Because the state uses the initiation of force, it defies our natural rights. Democracy is nothing but another government system—mob rules. While most people claim to be defenders of minorities, they are prompt to support democracy when its entire concept is to pursue tyranny by the majority and to dismiss the minority. As Ayn Rand once pointed out, “[t]he smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.” Indeed, individual rights should be our guiding principle, not tyranny by majority. This is why libertarians should not support democracy, but any moves to reduce the state, despite if it is undemocratic. Of the three chief systems of governance (democracy, republicanism, and monarchism), democracy is the most abhorrent and base. Or, as Benjamin Franklin said, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.” We will apply this theory—contesting the vote—to many controversial issues, including hypotheticals and women’s suffrage.
It is important to recognize that the United States of America is not a democracy. In fact, our founders realized the dangers of majority rules and set up a democratic republic. A democracy, in its purest form, means that majority rules, period. From this point, there are no restraints: people vote for representatives to vote for policies or vote for policies directly. This is a democracy. A republic, on the other hand, sets up some ground rules. Unfortunately, a republic does follow the principle that the majority knows best, but to a lesser extent. The Bill of Rights protects certain individual rights, but can be repealed if the majority is high enough (three fourths of the states and two thirds of each house of Congress). This is why the United States is a democratic republic, for there is some ground rules and some restrictions, but if the majority is big enough, anything can be done on a national level. Each state, on the other hand, is actually strictly a republic: for if everyone in the state of Utah were to oppose my right to free speech except me, my right to free speech is still protected under law, due to the national First Amendment. There is no pure democracy in the United States, however, as there should not be. Our founders originally intended the United States to be a Republic: and for white male property owners to exclusively hold the privilege to vote. As we shall see, this restriction was conducive to the ends of Liberty.
Before examining the issue of voting, we must first recognize that voting is not a right. Rights are, indeed, inherent. I have the right to my life. I have the right to my liberty. I have the right to pursue happiness. I have the right to do jumping jacks. I have the right to pursue my dream of becoming the next movie star. No one has the “right” to an object or for anyone to do anything for them. For example, I have the right to eat. This does not entail that I have the right to food: that is, that we must socialize the food industry because I have the right to have food on my plate. I certainly have the right to pursue my goal of justly acquiring food, but I do not have the right to another’s food. I do not have the right for someone else to pursue or do something for me, since, if they were forced to do so, that would be a violation of that person’s rights. I have the right to pursue happiness, but I do not have the right to happiness; stated differently, I can try to give myself happiness all I want, but this does not entail that other people have any sort of obligation to provide me with this happiness, nor can I ever initiate force on another individual to obtain happiness. When people say healthcare is a human right, and, therefore, we need socialized healthcare, they are wrong. We have the right to voluntary association; therefore, we do have the right to voluntarily trade and have a healthcare industry in the free market. We have the right to care for our health, but we do not have the right to other people providing healthcare for us. Similarly, we do not have the right to vote. We do not have the right to other people orchestrating a process for us. We have the right to protest or promote government. We have the right to resist government. We do not have the right to have the government provide us food, healthcare, education, or pieces of paper with politicians’ names written on them. In short, we only have a right to our own person and property, but not to the person and property of others. After all, if voting were a right, ipso facto, all people must be able to vote, including those who were born only days ago. Government is a violation of rights in and of itself, and so, the goal should be to rein in government. If we are faced with minimizing the violation of rights or giving the privilege to vote equally to everyone, the goal should be to minimize the violation of rights.
Libertarians must necessarily be prudent in supporting expansion of the voter base. Every increase in the voter base brings a potentially more difficult task for Libertarian politics. Specifically, if the newly introduced voters increase the margin which we must win over for Liberty, then that is the chief issue; for, in this fashion, the Libertarian job is made more difficult: we must convince a larger populace to vote for us. Unfortunately, for Libertarians, collective propositions to expand suffrage must be considered collectively, as we have already mentioned. The ideal would be banning all who increase the State from the voting booth, wherefrom we may derive our entire enfranchisement theory; but, in practise, this is nigh impossible. Typically and historically, propositions to expand the vote have been made to particular groups of varying different characteristics. When a voter group is added to an existing voter base, if it increases the margin necessary to convince to arrive at a 50% Libertarian vote, then it must be bad. On the contrary, if it decreases this margin, or if it sways the vote toward being Libertarian, it must be good. The goal is to destroy the system, and the means used must be pursuant to this end; as Ayn Rand said, “I am interested in politics so that one day I will not have to be interested in politics.” Libertarians do not care for democracy; we wish merely to destroy the State. Therefore, any change in the democratic (or republican) structure must be in accordance with this end; and, as Libertarians, we ought to rig the vote as much as possible, whether in a representative republic or a true democracy, for our own ends. But whether it is a proposition to expand the vote to women, or a proposition to restrict the vote to only Anarcho-Capitalists (the ideal), we must approach the subject with great caution.
Suppose, for example, that a group of fugitives have been stranded on an island. Within this group of fugitives, there are fifteen men and seven women. The group of people have established a democracy, but have restricted men from voting. Because the women have control of the state, rape is avoided in this instance. Only one lady supports the men as a whole raping the women. The people live happily on the island for a long time, and then, later down the road, the men start to demand “voting rights.” The men continuously campaign and eventually win the privilege to vote. The majority of the men, after a long time on the island, try to rape the women after a “proper” democratic vote for this goal. According to democratic theory, this is perfectly permissible, since the majority of the people are in support of the measures being taken. According to libertarian theory, this is not permissible, since it is a violation of individual rights. In addition, according to our practical theory, voter enfranchisement was a poor idea, in that a margin of voters must now be convinced not to rape. The men are using the initiation of force which is always wrong. This is not freedom for the women, since they are the victims of rape. Forcing the majority’s desires on the entire population is unjust in this situation, and is unjust in any situation which will lead to the initiation of force. In the case of any state, democratic or not, it is initiating force. A rational person will conclude that the majority opinion is irrelevant, and enfranchisement, in this case, was a bad idea. Enfranchisement actually caused a deprivation of rights.
Now that we have established that enfranchisement that would lead to more of the initiation of force is bad, and any increase in the state is an increase in the initiation of force, we can see that we have made enfranchisement mistakes in our history, as with women. Indeed, when women were given the privilege to vote, the scope of government expanded excessively and rather rapidly. In twenty-nine states, women had the privilege to vote prior to the Nineteenth Amendment:
Per capita state government spending after accounting for inflation had been flat or falling during the 10 years before women began voting. But state governments started expanding the first year after women voted and continued growing until within 11 years real per capita spending had more than doubled. The increase in government spending and revenue started immediately after women started voting. (Source)
Clearly, men were doing a better job of maintaining a Libertarian society, and the vote should not have expanded to women. Democracy is not the answer to freedom, voting is not a right, and enfranchisement should not be supported without caution. Libertarians should oppose enfranchisement that would expand the state.