The Instigator
mrmazoo
Con (against)
Winning
43 Points
The Contender
Conservative
Pro (for)
Losing
9 Points

If you don't vote, you don't have a right to complain.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/5/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,982 times Debate No: 2422
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (17)

 

mrmazoo

Con

You often hear people say things like "If you don't vote, then you don't have a right to complain!" Most people take this sentiment to be true. Not true in a legal sense, of course. They aren't saying people who don't vote ought to be fined or arrested if they are caught complaining afterwards.

But they are saying that somehow it isn't fair to complain about the results if you don't participate in the vote.

I reject this notion and, in fact, assert the opposite: It is fair for non-voters to complain about the results of a vote, and it is often the VOTERS that have no legitimate right to complain.
Conservative

Pro

Hello,

Good post, I was just talking to someone about this actually.

Here I go :

People that vote definitely have the right to complain. If they voted for "X" person and "Y" person won, they should have a chance to complain about what happened because they didn't like the outcome anyways.

Someone that doesn't vote, shouldn't be able to say anything. If they have a problem with what is going on after the vote, then they should have voted to try and stop what happened.

It is as simple as that.

Vote, so you can complain when something goes wrong.
I must say though, if you voted for "X" person and they won, then you DO NOT have a right to complain about what's going on.

Thanks and good luck!
Debate Round No. 1
mrmazoo

Con

Thanks for joining the debate, Conservative. In this round I will first state my case, then respond to your arguments from Round 1, and then finally respond to any anticipated objections you might raise in this or the third round.

My case is very simple and I will use a simple example of a vote to illustrate my point. When someone agrees to vote on an issue or an election, or any other type of decision, they are implicitly agreeing to abide by the result of the vote. That's the whole point of participating in a specific decision-making process, of which voting is just one method (another method might be flipping a coin, for example).

For example, if you and I were friends who wanted to go eat lunch together but couldn't agree on a restaurant, we might decide to flip a coin and let the winner of the coin-flip decide. Now, if we agree to use the coin-flip method to make our decision, the loser of the coin-flip would obviously have no right to complain. I mean, they COULD complain, but it would be pretty disingenuous and lame to complain after you have already agreed to the coin flip. By agreeing to the coin flip, you implicitly agree to whatever results (ie. you agree to go to whichever restaurant I pick, if I win the coin flip).

If there were more people involved than just the two of us, then we might put the restaurant decision up to a vote. Lets say there are a dozen of us and you voted for your favorite Thai Restaurant but lost to a bunch of people who voted for The Olive Garden. Can you complain? Well yes, but again, it would be lame of you to do so. You don't have a legitimate complaint since you agreed to the vote. By agreeing to vote on the restaurant you agreed to go eat wherever the voters decided. It would be unfair of you to complain about the result after you agreed to vote. If you didn't want to go to The Olive Garden, you should have said something about it BEFORE voting.

Ok, but what if before the vote you said "I'm not going to vote because I know a bunch of you guys love the Olive Garden and I hate that place and don't want to eat there. Every time we put lunch up to a vote we end up going to the Olive Garden and my favorite restaurant never gets picked." Now the other 11 people vote anyway and, sure enough, The Olive Garden wins. Do you have the right to complain? Very much so! You told everyone you didn't like the Olive Garden. You told everyone why voting on where to eat for lunch guarantees that you won't get to eat at your favorite restaurant. Since you didn't agree to the vote, you didn't agree to abide by the result of that vote and any attempt to make you do so is tantamount to coercion.

This simple example of a vote shows that, ironically, it is actually the VOTERS who lose their right to complain and it is the NON-VOTERS who retain that right!

Now that I have stated my case, I will address the issues my opponent raised in the previous round:

Issue One: People that vote definitely have the right to complain. If they voted for "X" person and "Y" person won, they should have a chance to complain about what happened because they didn't like the outcome anyways.

Response: But as I have just illustrated and explained, by agreeing to vote you implicitly agree to abide by the results of that vote. If you don't like the outcome, all you can legitimately do about it is lobby and campaign to make sure a similar outcome doesn't occur next time. However, you can't complain about the current result with any credibility unless you think the vote was not done fairly. Otherwise, if the vote was fair and the rules of the vote were made clear before-hand, you have no right to complain about the result once you agreed to the vote. Again, that's the entire purpose behind voting or any other decision making process that one participates in. You agree to allow the process to make the decision for everyone. Therefore, you can't legitimately disagree with the decision afterwards unless you didn't agree to the decision-making process to begin with.

Issue Two: Someone that doesn't vote, shouldn't be able to say anything. If they have a problem with what is going on after the vote, then they should have voted to try and stop what happened.

Response: But there are a number of reasons why one might believe that putting a decision up to a vote would not be the fairest or most democratic way of making a decision. One might believe all of the choices available are bad. One might believe that one's own preference has no chance to win in a vote because of your unusual taste in food, or candidates, or whatever. By not agreeing to the decision-making process, one retains the right to disagree with the result of that process since now those results are being DICTATED to you rather than being made BY you or with your permission (as when you agree to the decision making process before-hand).

Issue Three: I must say though, if you voted for "X" person and they won, then you DO NOT have a right to complain about what's going on.

Response: This objection is not really related to my argument but I find it interesting because actually, I believe the opposite is true. The only voters that CAN legitimately complain are the ones who won the vote. If I vote for Hillary Clinton because I want her to put in place the policies that she has said she would strive for, and then she fails or even does the opposite, then I have a legitimate right to complain. I didn't really get what I was voting for. The vote was, in a sense, tainted and unfair because what people vote for in an election is for certain issues to be handled in a particular way, not for a particular man or woman to occupy the white house. The reason I pick one candidate over another is not because I like their smile or their hair or their daughter's hair or whatever, it's because they said they would do things that I want them to do. So, if they don't do them, I believe I would have a right to be angry.

Now, for some other possible objections:

Objection one: Voting in an election is different than voting on where to eat for lunch.

Response: Why? This is the most common response I receive whenever I explain my argument to someone. But nobody has ever been able to tell me WHY an election is different. If I don't like ANY of the candidates for President of the U.S.A. and I decide not to vote for anyone, why does that mean I give up my right to complain when in any other type of vote or decision-making process, my right to complain is retained when I abstain from the process? I might believe, for example, that voting for my leader is beneath my dignity or that none of the candidates could possibly understand what is important to me while they are sitting in the White House mansion in Washington D.C. and I am living in the smallish town of Savannah, Georgia. By participating in the vote I would be agreeing to act against my own principles or I would be agreeing to a result that I find abhorrent. If you vote for McCain and Clinton wins (or vice-versa), the only legitimate thing you can do is lick your wounds and campaign to have Clinton ousted in the next election.

Objection two: But by not voting, you allow other people to decide for you.

Response: This is simply not true in that I am not ALLOWING them to decide for me. Actually, I am being coerced into accepting a decision that I did not make or sanction, giving me an even bigger right to complain. In the restaurant-example, I have the option of not eating with my friends or of convincing a minority of them to defect and go eat some delicious Thai cuisine while the other losers go to The Olive Garden (no offense to Olive Garden lovers out there). But, if I am forced to go to The Olive Garden even though I protested the vote and didn't participate, then I have an even GREATER right to complain. Likewise with political elections. Ok, I've actually used all my allotted space, so I'll have to stop here.
Conservative

Pro

Conservative forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
mrmazoo

Con

Disappointing, but not surprising. After all, my argument is quite devastating to your position. :-)

Anyone else interested in challenging?
Conservative

Pro

Conservative forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by coolman 9 years ago
coolman
Haha, no thanks. My comment was more satirical than anything. You made some very good points for your case. I'm not sure they are as applicable on the grander scale. I would argue that, by not voting, you have the right to complain about the method of selection, not the outcome of the vote. You, as a rational individual know that you solely cannot change the national voting system, unless you began some type of collective movement in that direction. So, KNOWING that the current voting system is what it is, you should vote if you have an opinion of the outcome. 'Boycotting' your vote is a valid way to voice your opinion of the voting system, not the matter being voted upon. In the case of your restaurant example, you should complain to your friends about the selection method. Why would you complain about outcome of the vote if you never agreed with and therefore never were apart of the vote in the first place? Complain (or gain other supporters) about the selection system until a satisfactory change is made, THEN participate, THEN gain the right to complain about the outcome. That's just my two cents.
Posted by mrmazoo 9 years ago
mrmazoo
coolman, would you be interested in a debate which challenges the assumption that voting is the only decision-making process that leads to a democratic decision?

You seem to believe that there are only two choices: decide by vote, or have a single dictatorial decision-maker who decides for everyone.

Besides, I did not argue that people should stop voting. I argued that failing to vote doesn't negate your right to complain about the outcome. If anything, it strengthens it.
Posted by coolman 9 years ago
coolman
mrmazoo, it kind of sounds like you are simply against the idea of a democracy. In your example of a dozen friends voting on a restaurant - if your friends are going to disregard your unwillingness to participate in a vote, I would think you might want to find a different group of people to eat with. As such, if you don't think issues should be handled by a vote, maybe you should go somewhere that uses a different process. Maybe you could dictate your own country...
Posted by Korezaan 9 years ago
Korezaan
Nice turn on a commonly accepted notion.

I negate.
Posted by mrmazoo 9 years ago
mrmazoo
Not much of a debate. I'd be happy to start another one if anyone is interested.
Posted by Conservative 9 years ago
Conservative
Actually,

I had some family problems arise and was not able to complete my turn.
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