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The Lesser of Two Evils

By       Message Uri Avnery     Permalink
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From Gush Shalom

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WHO WILL win the elections in the US in three days?

I know for sure. No need to ask the public opinion polls, the modern equivalent of the Roman interpreters of animal entrails and the more modern readers of coffee grounds. The polls are no more exact.

The winner will be the PLE -- the Party of Lesser Evil. Or, in this case, the Candidate of Lesser Evil.

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People will not vote FOR somebody, but AGAINST somebody. Against the greater evil.

This is a world-wide phenomenon. In almost all democratic countries, the Lesser Evil wins.

SINCE THE foundation of the State of Israel in 1948, we have had 20 elections for parliament The parliament (Knesset) then elected the Government.

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In five of these elections I voted for myself -- in three of them I voted for a party I headed, in one for a party in which I belonged to the opening three, and in one for a list in which I occupied the honored 120th place.

In all the 15 other elections I voted for the PLE -- the party I considered the lesser evil.

Not for a party I loved. Not for a party I admired. Not for a party I considered good. Such a party did not exist. So I just voted for a party I believed would do the least harm to the state and to the aim I consider paramount: peace with the Palestinian people and the entire Arab and Muslim world.

The selection process is quite simple. You put in front of you the names of all the party lists: generally in Israel between 10 and 20. Then you eliminate the worst. And so on, until only one remains.

Sure, this does not sound very exciting. You don't leave the polling station in the mood to dance in the street. But you fulfill your civic duty in a sensible way. You are a responsible citizen.

YOU CAN, of course, decide not to vote at all. You say to yourself, virtuously, they are all the same, they are all bad, a righteous person like myself cannot in good conscience vote for any of them.

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In practice, that is a very bad decision. If you do not vote for the lesser evil, you effectively vote for the most popular evil.

The same goes in the American system. Voting for a third party candidate, somebody who has no chance of winning, however nice he or she may be, is bad. It gives you a good feeling. But in reality it means throwing your valuable vote away. It is -- if you will excuse me -- a kind of political onanism.

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Uri Avnery is a longtime Israeli peace activist. Since 1948 has advocated the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In 1974, Uri Avnery was the first Israeli to establish contact with PLO leadership. In 1982 he was the first Israeli ever to meet Yassir Arafat, after crossing the lines in besieged Beirut. He served three terms in the (more...)
 

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