When we vote, we aren’t just deciding for ourselves. We’re attempting to decide for others, too. We’re not just expressing a preference (“I prefer traditional taxis to ride sharing services.”), but also expressing a desire to see that preference made, through the application of violence or the threat of violence, the law of the land. We’re saying our opinions are so informed, correct, and important that we’re willing to have men with guns make our fellow Americans obey them, even if our fellow Americans also believe their own opinions are informed, correct, and important.Almost every politician with his or her name on the ballot—and certainly every politician with much of a chance of winning office at the state or national level—will use that power to engage in political acts via the state that clearly lack moral legitimacy. That’s because he or she will use government to enforce preferences instead of limiting the state to that narrow role there’s even a chance of justifying morally.
If you cast a vote today, there’s a pretty high chance that in morally significant ways you’re acting just like those friends mugging the old man. You may think there are good reasons for doing this, that a world where you vote for violations of basic human dignity and autonomy will be more livable—happier, freer, wealthier, more equal—than one where you don’t. But you’re still party to countless immoralities. You’re still expressing approval as politicians fail to live up to basic moral standards—and as they do so in your name.