Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Reddit Tell A Friend Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites
OpEdNews Op Eds

On the logic of lesser-of-two-evils

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Don Smith       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   10 comments

Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags
Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H3 10/23/18

Become a Fan
  (22 fans)
- Advertisement -

Suppose you are being held hostage by deranged criminals who give you an ultimatum: tell them your bank pin number, social security number and other identifying information, or they'll rape your wife and daughters and mutilate you.

As a matter of principle, you oppose giving away your money to criminals -- a clear evil. But you realize that the alternative is worse. So you settle for the lesser-of-two-evils.

Here's another example. Suppose you're terminally ill and in constant pain. You can't walk, enjoy food, or enjoy sex. Your doctors tell you that your condition will worsen. In such a case, ending your own life might be the lesser-of-two-evils.

Here's a more whimsical example: you're a young man "in love" with a woman who insists that you marry. You kinda think marriage is evil, but the alternative -- being alone -- is worse. You settle for the lesser-of-two-evils, marriage.

- Advertisement -

Now for a serious, political example. Suppose that you lived in Louisiana in 1991 and had to choose between virulent racist David Duke and flawed, corrupt corporate Democrat Edwin Edwards in the race for the governor. Not a pleasant choice. But, as did a broad coalition of Louisianans, you could, with a clear conscience, vote for the lesser-of-two-evils, Edwards. That example is from Alfred Reed, Jr's convincing article Vote for the Lying Neloiberal War Monger: It's Important.

Quoting from that Reeds article again:

I assume readers get the allegorical point of that story [about Louisiana]. Just to drive it home, here's another, more dramatic one that Harold Meyerson adduced last month in The American Prospect: in the early 1930s, as the National Socialists gained strength, Ernst Thälmann, the Chairman of the German Communist Party held to the line that the Social Democrats were a greater threat to the working class and to the possibility of revolution than were the Nazis. The Communists' conflict with the Social Democrats was both not without justification and mutual. Some Communists believed that the elements of the working class who were drawn to the Nazis, e.g., those in Ernst Röhm's Brown Shirts, could be won from them. In 1931 some sought to collaborate with the Nazis to bring down the weak Social Democrat government. In expressing the conviction that the Social Democrats were the main danger in German politics, Thälmann uttered the quip that has long outlived him as a cautionary device: "After Hitler, our turn." His point was that a Nazi victory would expose them as fraudulent with no program for the working class. What Thälmann didn't count on was their success at criminalizing and liquidating all opposition. He died in a concentration camp.

- Advertisement -

Indeed, many leftists who hate the Democrats often say similar things about the Democratic Party: they're as corrupt as the Republicans. Or they even claim that the Democrats are more dangerous, because they are wolves in sheep's clothing. I hear such claims all the time online, particularly on OpEdNews. (I expect comments to that effect on this article.) Proponents of such claims say that the Democrats are as bad as the Republicans because -- take your pick -- Bill Clinton approved NAFTA, Bill Clinton overturned Glass-Steagall, Barack Obama prosecuted whistle blowers, Barack Obama supported drone wars, Barack Obama continued the Bush bailouts of Wall Street, Hillary Clinton was hawkish, etc., etc.

I am convinced those people are wrong. Yes, those Democrats pursued some evil policies. But the Democrats are much better than the Republicans: on women's rights, on the environment, on taxation, on gay rights, on unionism, on education, on the Supreme Court, on immigration, on civil rights, on voting rights, etc., etc. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a right wing troll or is deluded.

Gore was an environmentalist and a moderate Democrat. Bush and Cheney launched the immoral and disastrous war in Iraq; they transferred trillions to the rich and gutted environmental regulations.

Obama did many bad things, but he's nowhere near as bad as Bush, Cheney, or Trump. I needn't tell you how much damage Trump and the GOP Congress are doing now.

So, in response to:


Warning to Dems for 2020
(Image by Jeffrey Freeman)
  Permission   Details   DMCA
- Advertisement -

I suggest:


Welcome to Bust!
(Image by Donald A. Smith)
  Permission   Details   DMCA

I could show dozens of other examples of how Trump is far, far worse than Hillary would have been. Only on militarism is it unclear whether Trump is worse. Hillary is a neocon. But Trump may start a war with Iran, North Korea, or China; and he is giving billions more to the military. And he is pulling out of the nuclear arms treaty with Russia.

But I understand where such Bernie-or-Busters are coming from.

Virtue scale

If we could rate politicians on a scale of virtue, with 0 being pure evil and 100 being pure good, we might rate dictators such as Hitler and Stalin in the low single digits. (They didn't murder everybody.) Let's say Dick Cheney is a 10, George W. Bush is 15, Bernie Sanders is 75, Dennis Kucinich is 85. What's Trump? 20? What's Hillary? 30? 40? 50? 60? What's Obama? 40? 50? 60? Your ratings will differ. But given your ratings, suppose you're voting in an election in which the two leading candidates are on the evil side of the scale: under 50. Suppose that one candidate scores a 10 (very evil) and the other scores a 35 (somewhat evil). Would that difference be enough to warrant voting for the lesser-of-two-evils? How about if their ratings were 10 versus 48? 10 versus 15? 30 versus 40?

Next Page  1  |  2

 

- Advertisement -

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

DFA organizer, Democratic Precinct Committee Officer, writer, and programmer. My op-ed pieces have appeared in the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and elsewhere. See http://WALiberals.org and http://TruthSite.org for my writing, my (more...)
 

Don Smith Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The myth that the Dems are as bad as the Repugs

Why Abortion Isn't Murder

Image essay about blood soaked NRA

Government is like a computer's operating system: a response to libertarians

Failure to prosecute: why Obama is having trouble passing health care reform

Undividing the Left: Hard-core and Soft-core progressives

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

6 people are discussing this page, with 10 comments


Don Smith

Become a Fan
(Member since Feb 25, 2009), 22 fans, 126 articles, 559 quicklinks, 1558 comments, 45 diaries


Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


  New Content

Bring on the trolls ready to say the Dems are as bad as the Repugs! The trolls are wrong.

Submitted on Tuesday, Oct 23, 2018 at 6:46:11 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 
Indent

Chuck Nafziger

Become a Fan
Author 24101

(Member since Oct 12, 2008), 15 fans, 6 articles, 10 quicklinks, 1686 comments


Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


Reply to Don Smith:   New Content

You appear to love evil as much as the dems and repubs do, so I see no reason to listen to you or choose your negative solutions.

Submitted on Wednesday, Oct 24, 2018 at 6:30:57 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (2+)
Help
 
IndentIndent

Don Smith

Become a Fan
(Member since Feb 25, 2009), 22 fans, 126 articles, 559 quicklinks, 1558 comments, 45 diaries


Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


Reply to Chuck Nafziger:   New Content

lol

Submitted on Wednesday, Oct 24, 2018 at 8:00:36 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 
Indent

Joe Giambrone

Become a Fan
Author 43658
Follow Me on Twitter
(Member since Jan 13, 2010), 28 fans, 109 articles, 42 quicklinks, 910 comments, 1 diaries


Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


Reply to Don Smith:   New Content

I consider all mass murderers mass murderers. Go f*ck yourself, apologist.

Submitted on Thursday, Oct 25, 2018 at 9:00:23 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (1+)
Help
 

Jill Herendeen

Become a Fan
Author 18898

(Member since Jul 18, 2008), 22 fans, 1 articles, 2901 comments, 1 diaries


Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


  New Content

This article assumes that the votes will be, and have been, counted accurately--an assumption which, since at least 2002, is at least 80% unverifiable. For all we KNOW, Greens have won every contest they've been in--we just don't know, because the votes have been "counted" in secret, and under current laws, our only choice is to trust whatever Those In Charge choose to tell us. (Naturally, Those In Charge are doubtless well pleased for us to continue blaming each other for election outcomes of which we disapprove.) This is what we get for allowing our votes to be "counted" via software which is, BY LAW, protected from scrutiny by the public. Would you allow your Sixth Grade Student Councilmen to be chosen via computers which can invisibly and undetectably "flip" your vote to the opponent of the person you voted for? Why should grown-ups put up with this, with so much more money at stake?


For a meticulous analysis of a recent example, I invite you all to read mintpressnews.com's Jan. 24, 2017 article, "Donald Trump Warned of a Rigged Election, Was He Right?"

Submitted on Wednesday, Oct 24, 2018 at 8:03:28 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (3+)
Help
 

Alexander Kershaw

Become a Fan
Author 500827

(Member since Nov 25, 2014), 3 fans, 267 comments


Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


  New Content

Using a governors race as a comparison for a presidential race is like apples and oranges. Remember we still have that slavery institution for choosing a president called the Electoral College. Depending on the state in which you vote, choosing a Dem or a Rep may be relevant or not. If your state is solidly one way or the other, vote your conscience. I vote in CA so for president I vote as far left as is on the ballot. I have worked to get Peace and Freedom and Greens on the ballot. If I voted in PA or WI, it would be a harder choice but I think I would still vote left. The Ds take our votes for granted. We need to force them to earn our votes.

Submitted on Thursday, Oct 25, 2018 at 8:06:08 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 

Joe Giambrone

Become a Fan
Author 43658
Follow Me on Twitter
(Member since Jan 13, 2010), 28 fans, 109 articles, 42 quicklinks, 910 comments, 1 diaries


Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


  New Content

Your evil counts too.

Submitted on Thursday, Oct 25, 2018 at 8:59:26 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 

June Genis

Become a Fan
Author 52919

(Member since Aug 31, 2010), 6 fans, 2 articles, 31 quicklinks, 850 comments


Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


  New Content

We would not have to choose the lesser evil, at least as a first choice, if we replace our current electoral system with one that uses Ranked Choice Voting. You can give your first choice to the candidate you really like and reserve a lower choice for a lesser evil in case you first choice is eliminated. No wasted votes and true majority winner in the end (without the cost of a runoff election).

Submitted on Thursday, Oct 25, 2018 at 9:09:21 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (2+)
Help
 
Indent

Jill Herendeen

Become a Fan
Author 18898

(Member since Jul 18, 2008), 22 fans, 1 articles, 2901 comments, 1 diaries


Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


Reply to June Genis:   New Content

...but ONLY if the votes get counted ACCURATELY.


Submitted on Saturday, Oct 27, 2018 at 7:31:00 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (1+)
Help
 

Don Smith

Become a Fan
(Member since Feb 25, 2009), 22 fans, 126 articles, 559 quicklinks, 1558 comments, 45 diaries


Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


  New Content

I suspect, though, that the votes by leftists for Nader in 2000 and for Stein in 2016 sent the following message to Democrats: "We Nader and Stein supporters are fools. Ignore us."

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 6, 2018 at 5:40:33 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 

 
Want to post your own comment on this Article? Post Comment