Debate: Should Libertarians Vote?

Policy Forum
November 2, 2016
5:00PM to 6:00PM
Hayek Auditorium, Cato Institute

The bleak prospect of living in a country governed by one of the major-party presidential candidates seems to bolster arguments against voting. Declining to participate in this year’s deeply unsatisfactory election may signal a preference for “none of the above” while denying personal sanction to the many wrongs and injustices governments mete out in our names. Not voting is a time-saver, too.

But non-participation in the vote may be an unwise option. Voting doesn’t just elect a candidate: it may signal to a variety of important audiences what direction the electorate would like the country to take. Perhaps voting is the best option available, even if other candidates and other systems of government would provide more liberty and prosperity. Failing to vote may waste personal power.

Is the best choice to vote one’s conscience, vote strategically, or not vote at all?

Join us for a debate on the merits of voting, followed by a convivial reception to pre-mourn the outcomes of the forthcoming election.

In favor of voting:

  • Jim Harper, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute
  • Michael Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies, Cato Institute

Against voting:

  • Aaron Ross Powell, Research Fellow and Editor, Libertarianism.org, Cato Institute
  • Trevor Burrus, Research Fellow, Center for Constitutional Studies, Cato Institute

Moderated by:

  • Jason Kuznicki, Research Fellow and Editor, Cato Unbound, Cato Institute