NOTE: This discussion was originally classified as "hosted" but has now been moved to the "member initiated" category.  In the view of the OC Stewards, what is taking place here is a debate rather than dialogue.  In a "hosted" discussion here at OC.org, we request that balanced participation be encouraged and that regular summaries occur recognizing all the views being presented.  

While we have no objections to people using the OC forum to engage in debates, as long as they don't cross the line into personal attacks, such discussion is not what we are seeking in the "hosted" category.  

Ben Roberts
12/31/11

We are delighted to have Occupy Cafe member Mark E. Smith offer this hosted discussion on the provocative idea of an "election boycott."  

As "host," Mark will strive to keep the conversation orderly, offer regular summaries of the perspectives being presented and encourage balanced participation among all those who are engaged.  Here's Mark's initial summary:

An election boycott is the only known way to nonviolently delegitimize a government. It doesn't overthrow the government, it simply denies it the consent of the governed so that the government can no longer claim to have the people's consent. Among the many forms of noncompliance, such as removing money from big banks, boycotting corporate brands, withdrawing from the system and creating alternative systems, learning to live on less so as not to have to pay taxes, etc., refusing to vote can be one of the most crucial and effective tactics.

Thank you, Mark, for volunteering your services as "host!"

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Anyone who read the first comment at the beginning of this topic would know that an election boycott does not refer to implied consent. Implied consent would be assumed if a person dressed provocatively, flirted, and then went to somebody's bedroom with them. An election boycott refers only to expressed, informed, explicit, formal, affirmative consent, as when somebody asks another person if they wish to have intercourse, and that person says that they do. Elections are when governments ask people to delegate their authority to the government. Those who vote are delegating their authority to government and thereby legitimizing that authority.

Paying taxes could be considered a type of implied consent, but before a government can levy taxes, it has to have the legitimate authority to do so, or else it is just theft and robbery. Only if people vote to grant a government the legitimacy of their consent, does it have the legitimate authority to tax without it being considered theft. Withholding taxes could be construed as thinking or believing that the government is not legitimate, or that it is abusing its power, but it does not revoke or remove from government the legitimacy that only derives from the consent of the governed. Other forms of noncompliance can be considered to be removing implied consent also, but not the express consent that can only be granted by voting and can only be revoked or removed by not voting.

As I wrote in the first essay on the opening page of this discussion, entitled, "Consensual Political Intercourse," while you may feel that your government is screwing you, the question is whether or not you gave your express consent, not implied consent. You can imply consent by not resisting, by paying taxes, and other acts of civil obedience to the government, but you cannot grant your express consent by writing to the newspaper, holding up a sign saying, "I love this government," or by any other method than by granting your consent when the government clearly and distinctly asks you to delegate your power and authority to it to tax you, make your decisions for you, and otherwise govern you, which only happens at election time. Elections are how the government asks for your consent, and your vote no matter who or what you vote for, is your formal consent.

If you wish to withdraw that consent, the next time the government asks you if you want to get screwed again, don't vote. Otherwise, no matter how you vote, they can point to your signature on the voter rolls and show that you gave your consent.

If the government then, using the power, authority, and legitimacy that you granted it by voting, decides to tax you, you can choose to pay or not pay, but while not paying is a form of noncompliance, and in my view admirable, it does not revoke or remove from government the legitimate power and authority to tax that you granted it when you voted. Only withholding your express consent can do that.

Casting a blank ballot or a ballot for Mickey Mouse just says that you consent to be screwed by the government holding the election, that you formally grant it that legitimacy and delegate to it that power and authority, but that you'd really prefer to be screwed by somebody else or in a different way, not that you have withheld your consent when the government asked if you wanted to get screwed.

If you vote in elections where the votes don't have to be counted or are unverifiable, like more than 92% of the ballots cast in the US, you may think that you're saying "no," but you can't prove it and the government will insist that you said yes, that you were one of the many who granted their consent, and will point to your signature when you voted as evidence that you formally and expressly consented. Only if you are not registered to vote and do not vote does the goverrnment have no way to claim that you gave your consent.

The problem arises when people are incapable of giving their informed consent, such as children, people who are severely developmentally disabled so that they have the mentality of children, people who are drunk, delusional, comatose, or otherwise incompetent. That should not be counted as consent, but if they are capable of signing their name and casting a ballot, the government, however improperly, does indeed count it as consent. Also, informed consent means that people must know that they are consenting, and know exactly what they are consenting to, which in the case of US voters is almost impossible, as much of what the US government does is classified for national security purposes so that voters have no idea what the government is doing and what they're consenting to.

If anyone wishes to start a topic about implied consent, go right ahead. This discussion is about affirmative consent, as the opening post explains clearly.

It is extremely difficult for me, as a host, to attempt to keep this discussion on topic when people don't even bother to read the first page, when they don't accept the dictionary definition of words, or when they insist that things which have nothing to do with the consent of the governed, which can only be expressed by voting in the government's elections, are ways to revoke that consent. There is indeed another way, but it is not nonviolent and is called violent revolution. The only known nonviolent way to delegitimize a government, that is, to revoke the power and authority that govenments can only obtain by holding elections and asking for the consent of the governed, is to withhold that consent and refuse to vote.

I'm getting extremely tired of repeating myself over and over, explaining things so that even a child could understand them, only to have apparently intelligent people who are only here to disrupt, insist that the words don't mean what the dictionary says, the Declaration of Independence was wrong, and that there are other ways to delegitmize a government than withholding the consent from which it derived its legitmacy in the first place.

If you believe that the Declaration of Indpendence was wrong, and that government don't derive their just (legitimate) powers from the consent of the governed, your argument is with the Founders, not with me. If you believe that government can claim legitimacy without holding elections, your argument is with every country in the world that holds unnecessary elections, not with me (just go tell them how they can claim the consent of the governed without holding elections and I'm sure they'll be happy to save the money), and if your argument is that actions which do not revoke or remove the power and authority of government that is granted by the consent of the governed constitute delegitimizing government, your argument is with the dictionary, not with me.

"Only if people vote to grant a government the legitimacy of their consent, does it have the legitimate authority to tax without it being considered theft. "

No, the right to govern can arise through equity, i.e.by obtaining a benefit from the government.

Governments can be delegitimized by people refusing to interact with them. Voting is only one form of interaction, participation in the court process is another. Delegitimization via the court process can be effected by showing that the government does not have the jurisdiction that is usually assumed.

Again, NDT uses a definition of a word that is not in any dictionary, not even in an informal sense:

eq·ui·ty
   [ek-wi-tee] Show IPA
noun, plural eq·ui·ties.
1.
the quality of being fair or impartial; fairness; impartiality: the equity of Solomon. Synonyms: disinterest, equitableness, impartiality, fair-mindedness, fairness, justness, evenhandedness, objectivity; justice, probity. Antonyms: bias, discrimination, inequity, injustice, partiality, partisanship, prejudice, unfairness, unreasonableness; injustice.
2.
something that is fair and just: the equities of our criminal-justice system.
3.
Law .
a.
Also called chancery . the application of the dictates of conscience or the principles of natural justice to the settlement of controversies.
b.
Also called chancery . a system of jurisprudence or a body of doctrines and rules developed in England and followed in the U.S., serving to supplement and remedy the limitations and the inflexibility of the common law.
c.
an equitable  right or claim.
d.
equity of redemption.
4.
the monetary value of a property or business beyond any amounts owed on it in mortgages, claims, liens, etc.: Over the years, they have carefully avoided tapping into their home equity for unnecessary expenses.
5.
Informal . ownership, especially when considered as the right to share in future profits or appreciation in value.

-------------------------------------

NDT then reeturns to the false definition of "delegitimize geoverment" by stating that something which does not remove or revoke power or authority from government, such as not interacting with it, or delegitimizing its court process in a civil case about a minor infraction, is the same as something that does revoke power and authority from government, such as refusing to grant its power and authority by delegating to it that power and authority when it asks for it in elections.

In no sense has NDT ever been willing to discuss the topic of an election boycott except to continue to insist that fighting an eviction process is the same topic, which it is not.

"Again, NDT uses a definition of a word that is not in any dictionary, not even in an informal sense:"

What definition of the word "equity" did I use?

 

NDT, you wrote, "No, the right to govern can arise through equity, i.e.by obtaining a benefit from the government." You defined "equity" as "obtaining a benefit from."

Are you now going to deny that the abbreviation, "i.e." for the Latin "id est," or "that is," as defined:

Adv.    1.    i.e. - that is to say; in other words
id est, ie

also doesn't mean what the dictionary says it means, and that therefore you were not defining, by stating it in other words, what equity means?

So, Mark, the reason that you didn't answer the question is the same as the reason for the accusation that I made against you before? Just so were'clear.

I answered the question, NDT. You asked what definition of the word "equity" you had used.

I quoted you as defining equity by using the abbreviation "i.e." meaning "that is" and then defining it as "obtaining a benefit from." I quoted your exact words, and answered your question precisely and accurately.

But yes, your accusations against me are always unfounded, illogical, irrational, and based on nothing more than your refusal to accept the dictionary definitions of words. Because you do not accept the dictionary definitions of words, and because you do not wish to engage in any discussion about the topic of an election boycott, you just keep saying that it doesn't mean what the dictionary says it means, that you don't mean what you say, and that I'm a liar because I use the dictionary definition of words and you think the dictionary is just one big lie and that I'm therefore a liar because I use the dictionary definition of words.

Actually, I don't think you believe that. I think you have extremely clever ways of being disruptive, such as making unfounded allegations, denying that words mean what the dictionary says they mean, denying that you said what you said, changing the subject, and insisting that unrelated topics which you'd prefer to discuss are related, which you do by interpreting the topic to mean something other than everyone else agrees that it means.

The topic here is an election boycott used as a means of delegtimizing government. You have defined government as a lower court, delegitimizing as pursuing litigation, and now you're saying that you did not define a word when you did, and that therefore I didn't answer your question when I did.

Due to the hostility of the Cafe Steward, there doesn't seem to be anything I can do to keep this discussion on topic.

I wouldn't be in the least surprised if you respond by defining the word "topic" as meaning "tapioca pudding," as that seems to be your objective, to keep babbling off-topic gibberish to provoke me until I lose my temper so you can get Ben to ban me and delete this topic.

"I answered the question" No you didn't, Mark. The "i.e." referred to the central idea of the sentence,  which was the action conveyed by verb "arise". In other words The right to govern can arise by obtaining a benefit from the government. The right does not arise from law, but from equity, and the meaning of equity is the jurisdiction of courts of equity like Chancery.

In addition to rejecting the normal and dictionary-defined usage of English words, you have now rejected the entirety of English grammar. The "i.e." does not refer to the verb, it refers to the noun, "equity." For example, if somebody writes, "The falling of the rain, i.e., liquid precipitation, was continuous," the "i.e." does not refer to the verb "falling," but to the noun "rain."

Do you believe that because a person on welfare derives a benefit from government, the citizens of the US  have granted people on welfare the right to govern and consented to such governance? If so, why aren't the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court staffed with people on welfare instead of people who were voted for or appointed by those who were voted for?

Just because I'm an election boycott advocate doesn't mean that I can't lighten up once in a while.

Somebody on Alternet posted a couple of comments agreeing with me. Here's the most recent one and my response:

http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/753538/2012%3A_the_yea...

ssivonda
I'm back...and you again have espoused something I've heard a long time ago. Well over 40 years ago, I asked my mother ( now departed) why she didn't vote. Her reply..." They're all no good". How did she know? I only wish I pursued that comment with many questions, as now I'll never know what her reasoning was.

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    4 minutes ago
    in reply to mymarkx

mymarkx
Isn't it interesting how political party operatives always depict nonvoters as apathetic? Voters are the ones who don't care that they have no power over government. They vote for people who won't represent them and then wonder why they're not represented. The approximately half of us who don't vote, care. We know that nobody in Congress is going to represent us, and we don't like what has been done in our name as if we'd agreed to it. Voting to elect somebody to office is like writing them a blank check--here's my power and authority, do with it as you wish. Then they hope that the next crook might not be quite as bad as the last crook. But they don't really care what happens or they wouldn't trust politicians. Nobody who really cares would trust politicians. Actually, even voters don't really trust politicians, as Congress has less than a 10% approval rating among voters. But who do voters think put those crooks in office? It wasn't your mom, and it sure wasn't me.

Here's the acid test. Ask the next person who tells you they're going to vote, if they think Congress is doing a good job. 90% of them will say no. Then ask them who they're going to vote for, and most will name a Member of Congress or a former Member of Congress. If that's not schizophrenic, what is? No wonder our economy is doing so bad. Half the country is willing to hire and promote people doing a lousy job.

Maybe voters should take a closer look at the way that big corporations are run. The highest paid CEOs get paid millions of dollars plus bonuses for outsourcing jobs. Just think how much money we'd have if we outsourced Congress!

The voting ritual is a sacred cow - even otherwise reasonable people become agitated and uncomfortable at the mere mention of an election boycott.  I think most of those who vote are voting just because they can and because of the civic duty factor, not because they think their vote makes a difference.

It is strange that people will come right out and say that they don't think their vote makes a difference, but will vote anyway because "it's better than giving up and doing nothing." I can't see much difference between giving up, doing nothing, and doing something you know won't make a difference. If you want to make a difference, then all three are equally useless.

But the civic duty thing really puzzles me. If I'm protesting a system of government that doesn't serve my interests, I don't think I owe it any duty, in fact the Declaration of Independence says that in such a case it is my duty to alter or abolish that system.

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