The lesser of two evils

The lesser of two evils

I called my mother the other day. After the usual pleasantries, she tells me that she had a fight with my aunt, her sister. I ask her why. She said that it was because my aunt was trying to get her to vote for Donald Trump.

“I wouldn’t vote for Trump if you tied me up and frogmarched me to the booth.” Then, immediately, “I’m not voting for Clinton either.”

I asked her why she wasn’t voting for Hillary Clinton. “She lies,” she said. I asked her what she had lied about. “Well, that’s what everyone says.”

Five minutes, and the struggle was revealed.

The greatest success of the Right was in demonizing both parties. Sure, the GOP would suffer, but as the party which blasted government the most, it would suffer less than the Democrats, who tried to make government work. My mother, who is no low-information voter, has succumbed to the same pabulum fed by the Right for 50 years.

The common refrain is “I’m voting for the lesser of two evils.” Neither option on hand is palatable. Both options are reprehensible to some degree or another.

That betrays a lack of circumspection, and a lack of doing the basic work required by a self-governing people.

If one looks at elections past, a dispassionate observer must be led to conclude that both candidates are not the same. One is better than the other, if by “better” one means a more amenable outcome as far as living standards and basic rights obtains. One cannot objectively consider the candidacies of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and conclude that there would be no effective difference between their presidencies.

I’ve often said that Sec. Clinton has faults. But those faults are the faults we all have, all fallible human beings. They’re not faults which would bring about the Republic’s destruction. One cannot look at Mrs. Clinton’s faults, compare them with Mr. Trump’s, and call them a wash.

This is the genius of the “two evils” false analogy. “One person is lacking. Therefore the other person has to be lacking in the same degree.” Donald Trump can blurt out the most hateful message, and there will be a chorus who will declaim that Hillary Clinton is equally at blame, with no concrete evidence offered as proof.

If we are to survive as a free people, we must get beyond this false dichotomy. Most of the time when we vote, we are not in fact choosing between two equally disreputable candidates. We are, in fact, faced with a choice between one candidate who is far superior to the other, if by that we mean that one candidate would objectively be much more conducive to our material and social well-being. George W. Bush and Al Gore were not equally bad, unless you believe Mr. Gore would have taken us into an illegal war after the tragedy of Sept. 11. Hillary Clinton is not analogous to Donald Trump, unless you suspect she too would deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and unleash nuclear fire upon the Middle East. It is sloppy, easy thinking, and it is the death of freedom.

I am working on my mother. I cannot shock her into recognition, as she is a strong-willed woman. But as I do the work on someone I love, so are we all called to fight this pernicious lie that both parties are the same, that only an outsider from a 3rd party will save our experiment. Mrs. Clinton is not the same as Mr. Trump. The fact that we have to even make that assertion is evidence of how far our political discourse has devolved. The great task of the following generation will not be electing this or that candidate; it will be re-educating the electorate to discern truth from falsehood, and fact from fiction. It will be to put paid to the idea that the only choice we have is between a lesser of two evils. it will be to educate voters that the only people who prattle about that idea are those who will lose nothing from having true evil triumphant.



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