Kansas Progress Institute

Ad Astra Per Aspera ~ To the Stars Through Difficulties

Ethics of Voting

Posted on July 22, 2016

By David Burress

Representative democracy is an ethical theory that requires you to vote. Voting is an obligation that provides you with no material advantage. If your vote flips even one important election in your lifetime, count yourself lucky. Nevertheless you OUGHT to vote because, on average, everyone will be better off if everyone votes than if few people vote.
Also, you have an obligation to vote in an way that attempts to make us all better off. That means you have some some obligation to inform yourself, or at least to find some person or source you trust and admire who can advise you. Ideally you should listen to lots of different sources. However it is perfectly ethical to vote in favor of the material interests of people like you–voting is a way of adding up material interests for the whole society, and your interests really do count. 

It follows that you usually have little ethical choice except to vote for (what you see as) the greater good or the lesser evil, which are logically one and the same thing. 

However it is not ethical to vote out of hate, just as it is not ethical to hurt others out of hate in any way. 

When representative democracies fail, it is nearly always an ethical failure on the part of the people: either too few people vote, or too many vote out of hate. When bad times come and the party in power gets voted out of office, the newly elected party will normally makes things worse if it was elected out of hate, and otherwise is quite likely to make things better.
In a fundamental sense,therefore, politics is always, always, always about ethics.

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