We landed at the Anchorage airport, deplaned, and hurriedly hustled through the concourse. Our rapid movement was both an expression of our excitement to see our daughters, who recently moved there, as well as an acknowledgement that a battle awaited. No, not a family squabble. Instead, we were advancing in double time toward a pending pitched battle with the state.
Our trip was in August, at the height of the second wave of covid. At that time, Alaska was barely open to visitors, with three testing/quarantine options allowed. My wife and I chose to be tested at home within five days of travel and await the results upon arrival. This was the one option that didn’t require an additional test at the airport. However, we knew—knew—agents of the state would want to test us again, despite the promulgated pronouncement. And we were going to have none of that. We marched to the first checkpoint, filled out our testing declarations, and advanced to the testing line, ready to battle the minions entrusted to enforce the governor’s decree.
I Didn’t Get a Chance to Vote
This Tuesday, we supposedly celebrate democracy by casting votes for various offices. This, we are told, allows us all to have a say in the laws and regulations that impact our lives. However, I have no franchise with respect to Alaska and its edicts. So the fact that the governor of Alaska was chosen by the people of Alaska meant nothing to me. He could have been a monarch or dictator, or whatever. I had no say in process that elected him to office or established his authority. Yet I had to yield to his whims or face the force of the state—the societal apparatus of coercion and compulsion.
And that was not a singular situation. I live in a township three miles north of the village of Sunbury. The mayor there also wields powers my vote never afforded. But if I want to buy groceries without traveling another ten miles, I am under his gun, so to speak. Sure, I rebel when his proclamations exceed his statutory and constitutional authorities, and enter stores and restaurants without a mask. However, his agents may appear at any time to ruin my day.
In addition, I work in Columbus, whose government proves taxation without representation survives to this day. The city has the authority to take 2.5 percent of my salary, and I have no say—and I had no vote. Sure, I could vote with my feet, but I would likely end up working in another beltway town with a similar tax situation.
A God That Failed
Many believe democracy is god, as if our vote had spiritual meaning. Yet in our lives, we exist under nondemocratic—from our standpoint—systems every day. I only have to travel five hundred feet from my house to cross the border into a different township, one whose trustees never stood to my vote. But I survive. We all survive.
The issue is not how the official attained power, the issue is what power they are justified in wielding. Or, more importantly, what powers the constituents will allow the state to arrogate. Is Monaco, a constitutional monarchy with a prince who wields immense political power, somehow worse than Sunbury and Alaska with their petty tyrants ruling with extraconstitutional powers? Does democracy make one situation superior to the others?
Is democracy really so important? Or is democracy, to paraphrase Hans-Hermann Hoppe, just a god that failed? If democracy is fundamental, shouldn’t we all have a vote in every election: Sunbury, Alaska, and Monaco?
The Victory Was Ours
The battle at the testing line wasn’t pretty, but we won. The agents of the state, without ever recognizing they had no authority to test us if we signed an affidavit stating we had been tested within five days and were simply awaiting our results, accepted defeat and finally waved us through with a “You can go.”
The battle was ours, but we really did not want to fight. We simply wanted to be on our way without harassment from the state. We wanted to see our daughters and celebrate.
But the pesky and petty mayor of Anchorage had other ideas. Instead of celebrations, he wanted to mask every smile. I never voted for him… never. So much for democracy as the guarantor of liberty in my daily life.