Assembly Candidate Joins Anarchist “Don’t Vote” Campaign

OAKLAND, CA — Daniel C. Burton will appear on the March ballot as a candidate for State Assembly in the 14th District — but now he has joined the anarchist “don’t vote” campaign.

Burton, a UC Berkeley senior, has held anti-government views for most of his college career. A member of the Libertarian Party, he is opposed to government restrictions on both personal and economic liberties. Burton, however, considers himself more libertarian than the Libertarian Party, in that he thinks government has no legitimate functions at all.

His ideas are inspired largely by the economist David Friedman (the son of Milton Friedman), who thinks we would be better off buying the protective services now provided by police from companies competing on the market.

Until recently, Burton thought of participation in the electoral process as a form self-defense against the intrusions of government, but recent e-mail exchanges on the Internet changed his mind. “You wouldn’t join a band of thieves and murderers to reduce the amount of crime,” he explained. “For the same reason, I’m opposed to taking political office to reduce the amount of government.”

Voting is just as wrong as being a politician according to Burton. “A vote for office is an order to place someone in a position of political power,” he said. “Since I think the use of political power to achieve social ends is fundamentally wrong, I think of this like participating in a criminal conspiracy.”

Burton stops short of saying it’s wrong to vote “no” on tax increases, but thinks voting is a waste of time anyway. “People tell me ‘if you don’t vote, things will just get worse,’ but your vote almost certainly won’t stop things from getting worse,” he said. “The chance of you casting the one deciding vote is probably less than being struck by lightning.”

“If everyone voted for good things, it probably would make things better,” Burton conceded. “But this is no argument that you as an individual should vote. Your vote doesn’t change the outcome unless it’s the deciding one, and there are a lot things you could do with your time that have a greater chance of making a practical difference.”

As far as sending a message with your vote goes, Burton remarked: “Punching a box and being anonymously counted is one of the least effective ways of expressing your opinion to anybody.”

But if people don’t vote, how can they change things? “Libertarians find market-based solutions to almost every other problem, so it would be surprising if there wasn’t one to government,” he explained. Burton especially likes a strategy called “counter-economics” put forth by Samuel Edward Konkin III in The New Libertarian Manifesto. Counter-economics is the process of creating black-market networks to do business without paying taxes or following government regulations. The more people do this, the more difficult it becomes for the government to exercise its authority. Eventually viable anarchist alternatives to the State emerge, Burton said.

He admits that most people think no government means violent chaos, but adds: “Most people have never heard an intelligent argument for any form of anarchism.” He urges them to pick up a copy of David Friedman’s The Machinery of Freedom.

By law, Burton cannot remove his name from the ballot.

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