Monday, November 2, 2020

 Day 1: Vote your conscience


Over the past month, social media posts, tweets, chats, etc. have been replete with “vote as if…” admonitions.


Vote as if you are black or brown.

Vote as if you are a woman.

Vote as if you are gay.

Vote as if you do not have healthcare.

Vote as if you do not have education.

Vote as if you do not have affordable housing.


Naturally, the list of “as if’s” goes on and on.


Gentle reader, may I suggest an alternate list of “what if’s” for your kind consideration?


Vote as if our equality depends upon it.

Vote as if your pursuit of happiness depends upon it.

Vote as if your liberty depends upon it.

Vote as if your life depends upon it.


Equality, as conceived by the Founders and requisite to a free society is not an equality of outcomes but of opportunity. Equality that has as its end common outcomes can only be produced by force, taking from one or restricting one in order to give to another or to permit action by another. Equality of opportunity recognizes that any person who has and/or builds his or her knowledge, skills and abilities is free from government and quasi-government (e.g., unions supported with monopolistic protections from government) interference in pursuit of his or her own goals and objectives. When pursuing equality based on opportunity, each person has a self-interest to voluntarily engage with others, who, in pursuing their own interests, produce something of value to others and to society.


If person A is bigoted in any respect against person B, person A denies himself or herself the value produced by person B. In this case, the victim, which is a self-imposed victimization, is person A, because he or she may engage with person C, who may not necessarily provide value to the same degree of quality as person B. However, society today would have us believe that the victim is person B. If person B has a valuable contribution, there will always be a market for him or her.


A person will not recognize the value or worth of another just because the government orders it. In all likelihood, I suspect such government mandates have the opposite effect. Only through voluntary engagement with others will one person recognize – in a genuine and sustainable way – the value and worth of another. As you consider the candidates, which proposes the use of force (e.g., laws about who you can hire or to whom you can sell, required re-education, etc.), which is founded on an inherent (albeit unfounded) belief in inequality, to achieve equality. Consider, also, that such force has been attempted for decades with little to no success. Just turn on the nightly news for proof of this. Which candidate creates the environment for individuals to explore and appreciate the intrinsic value of others in a voluntary and mutually beneficial manner?


Happiness is described by Aristotle in “Nicomachean Ethics” in this way, “The good is the final end, and happiness is this.” But what is happiness? Charles M. Schulz answers this question in his book, “Happiness Is a Warm Puppy.” In the book, he provides a list of the many sources of happiness, from a friend showing up on your front porch to, of course, a warm puppy. The idea that Aristotle and Charles Schulz advance is that happiness is unique to each of us. Both Aristotle and Schulz recognize that various means (e.g., time, talent and treasure) may be useful in pursuing the end, which is happiness. For example, if happiness is a warm puppy, treasure is needed for the adoption fee, and time and talent are needed for the dog’s training and for the establishment of a sense of belonging.

In the pursuit of happiness, as you define it for yourself (for no one else can define if for you, especially not a stranger in a government bureau), what fosters your ability to achieve happiness? What hinders it? As you consider the candidates, which will free you and each citizen to the greatest extent to pursue those things that promote happiness?

Liberty is the freedom to act according to your will and in service of your own self-interest, insomuch as it does not adversely impact another person’s ability to do the same. This is the essential premise of our social contract. To assure each person of liberty, our form of government was designed in a way that is unique among the nations of the world, past or present. Our form of government was designed from a starting point that the individual citizen is sovereign and that We the People grant government its rights, and furthermore that we limit what those rights are.

Think about that for a moment. Unlike other forms of government, we are not subjects. We are not granted privileges by the state. We are not told what rights we have or do not have. At least, that was how our government was designed. That is why the characterization of American Exceptionalism as neo-fascist nationalism is flat out wrong. We are exceptional, because we are unique, and we are unique because we value each and every individual in a way no other form of government has done or does.

Over the course of our nation’s history, liberty, unencumbered by the government, has ebbed and flowed. In the times it has been allowed to flow, happiness and prosperity have flourished. When it has ebbed, always because of government intervention, economic and moral poverty and social disharmony have taken hold. In this matter, the record of history is clear. 

Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith showed that individuals, at liberty to pursue their own self-interests, will voluntarily and productively engage with one another and will thereby beneficially effect society’s interests. He called it the “invisible hand.” So-called intellectuals say this is simplistic and cannot be operationalized. Instead, they create Byzantine social orders and ever-failing regulatory schemes. And when those schemes fail, they plan more, saying they’ll get it right next time. All that is required more of our money and a greater sacrifice of individual liberty from you and me.

“Keep it simple, stupid,” is one of the great aphorisms. It’s stuck around, because it’s true. Since the early 20thcentury, government has taken an ever-increasing interest in and control over Americans’ lives, making complex the very act of living day-to-day. In so doing, we have a bloated government (at every level), and we are more restricted than ever in what we can and cannot do.

Ask yourself if the size, scope and cost of government secures your liberty and promotes your happiness. If not, might it be time for a simpler approach, one that dismantles the planners’ plans and allows us to breathe free? Consider the candidates and carefully weigh who is most likely to limit government and restore liberty.

Life, as Seneca observed, is short. It is essential that we pursue it with purpose and joy. He notes that laughter and lightheartedness are key ingredients to a good life. Yet look around. All we seem to see today is wailing and despair. Might it be because we are shackled in our pursuit of happiness and liberty? Might it be because we are hindered in engaging with one another as free agents, independent of the forces and coercion of government and of the Machiavellian perspectives on human nature espoused by the so-called intellectual elite, a perspective and worldview fraught with condescension and the repugnant sort of classism that is inherently antithetical to Americanism?

Seneca wrote, “We must therefore school ourselves to regard all commonly held vices as not hateful but ridiculous, and we should imitate Democritus rather than Heraclitus. For whenever these went out in public, the latter used to weep and the former to laugh; the latter thought all our activities sorrows, the former, follies. So, we should make light of all things and endure them with tolerance: it is more civilized to make fun of life than to bewail it. Bear in mind too that he deserves better of the human race as well who laughs at it than he who grieves over it; since the one allows it a fair prospect of hope, while the other stupidly laments over things he cannot hope will be put right.”

The French, of whose many philosophers inspired our own nation’s embarkation on the journey to a more perfect Union, speak of joie de vivre, the joy of living. Such living, by definition, must be based on happiness. As we discussed, happiness requires liberty. In considering the candidates tomorrow, who supports positions and policies that best promote your joie de vivre? Remember Smith and the fact that the pursuit of one’s self-interest and happiness also makes possible and advances the self-interests and happiness of others?

It really is astonishing to see how Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are connected and symbiotic, and it is through these three that equality is assured to us and to our posterity.

Our vote, dear friend – yours and mine – is our opportunity to say, “this is what equality, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness mean to me.” It is our natural right to pursue these things and to elect representatives who will act in accordance with the principle that government is here to serve our ends, which is to say our happiness. This can only be accomplished through simplicity and with the most limited use of force.

It is tempting, indeed, to game the system. It’s said that a vote for anyone other than Mr. Biden is a vote for Mr. Trump, and I’m sure the political calculus may be figured in the opposite direction, as well. If everyone, or even one, votes based on this sort of gamesmanship, as opposed to voting for the candidate who understands what equality, life, liberty and happiness truly mean in and to our republic, then and only then is that vote wasted.

May God bless you in the voting booth tomorrow, and may God bless America!



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  Day 1: Vote your conscience   Over the past month, social media posts, tweets, chats, etc. have been replete with “vote as if…” admonition...