If We Quit Voting
by Frank Chodorov
This essay originally appeared in July 1945 in a monthly newsletter Chodorov established called analysis. It later appeared as a chapter in his book Out of Step: The Autobiography of an Individualist (1962).
New York in midsummer is measurably more miserable than any other place in this world – and should be comparable to the world for which all planners are headed. Why New Yorkers, otherwise sane, should choose to parboil their innards in a political campaign during this time of the year is a question that comes under the head of man’s inscrutable propensity for self-punishment. And if a fellow elects to let the whole thing pass him by, some socially conscious energumen is bound to sweat him with a lecture on civic duty, like the citizeness who came at me.
For 25 years my dereliction has been known to my friends, and more than one has undertaken to set me straight; out of these arguments came a solid defense for my nonvoting position, so that the lady in question was well parried with practiced retorts. I pointed out, with many instances, that though we have had candidates and platforms and parties and campaigns in abundance, we have had an equivalent plenitude of poverty and crime and war. The regularity with which the perennial promise of “good times” wound up in depression suggested the incompetence of politics in economic affairs. Maybe the good society we have been voting for lay some other way; why not try another fork in the road, the one pointing to individual self-improvement, particularly in acquiring a knowledge of economics? And so on.
There was one question put to me by my charming annoyer that I deftly sidestepped, for the day was sultry and the answer called for some mental effort. The question: “What would happen if we quit voting?”