The Greater of Two Evils

Endorsements for candidates in posts here do not represent the opinions of all regular contributors, blue cheddar, or the blog’s many guest writers.

Some good folks on the left of the political spectrum, many of whom I respect very much, dismiss the notion of voting for the lesser of two evils. Certainly doing so can be disheartening and demoralizing. It can feel like there’s little real choice involved. When do we get to say what we really need, register our outrage at what offends us so deeply? But in these evil times, in this corrupt winner-take-all political system of ours, pragmatism points to just such a choice.

I appreciate that many women, families, and workers will likely do better with Obama in office for another four years. But given the drones, the war in Afghanistan, the NDAA, the record number of deportations, I cannot bring myself to vote for Obama. In other words, I am not “in.”

On the other hand, I will not miss the opportunity to vote against Mitt “Corporations-Are-People-My-Friend” Romney.

Romney is so saturated with privilege that he thinks the American people should vote for him and his so-called five-point plan without him divulging any details or offering any substance to indicate that the math might actually add up. (It doesn’t.) We’re supposed to just trust him. (*eyeroll*) He’s so truth-challenged that he doesn’t seem to know the difference between truth and lies. And far worse, he doesn’t seem to care.

Romney treats the American people (“you people”) with only the most thinly veiled contempt. He seems to think he’s entitled to the presidency, and he’s willing to do anything and say anything to make sure he gets it. I can’t imagine a more dangerous creature for our people or for the planet. Someone so morally bankrupt should absolutely not be allowed to choose the next two or three members of the Supreme Court, not to mention commanding the most powerful military force the Earth has ever known.

Daniel Ellsberg writes eloquently about the urgency of preventing a Romney presidency:

As Noam Chomsky said recently, “The Republican organization today is extremely dangerous, not just to this country, but to the world. It’s worth expending some effort to prevent their rise to power, without sowing illusions about the Democratic alternatives.” …

The election is at this moment a toss-up. That means this is one of the uncommon occasions when we progressives—a small minority of the electorate—could actually have a significant influence on the outcome of a national election, swinging it one way or the other.

The only way for progressives and Democrats to block Romney from office, at this date, is to persuade enough people in swing states to vote for Obama: not stay home, or vote for someone else. And that has to include, in those states, progressives and disillusioned liberals who are at this moment inclined not to vote at all or to vote for a third-party candidate (because like me they’ve been not just disappointed but disgusted and enraged by much of what Obama has done in the last four years and will probably keep doing).

They have to be persuaded to vote, and to vote in a battleground state for Obama, not anyone else, despite the terrible flaws of the less-bad candidate, the incumbent. That’s not easy. As I see it, that’s precisely the “effort” Noam is referring to as worth expending right now to prevent the Republicans’ rise to power. And it will take progressives—some of you reading this, I hope—to make that effort of persuasion effectively.

As disastrous as eight years of Dubya were, a Romney presidency would be even worse, in part because it would add to the damage Dubya did that has not yet been mitigated. And as deplorable as many aspects of Obama’s presidency have been, a Romney presidency would be much worse, even catastrophically worse, as Ellsberg says. A Romney presidency would greatly hasten our slide toward all-out corporate kleptocracy and modern-day feudalism. More privilege for the privileged. More austerity and suffering for everyone else.

In a little more than two weeks, I will be voting enthusiastically for Tammy Baldwin to be my senator and for Mark Pocan to be my representative. And as for that other race, as I draw a line next to Obama’s name, the enthusiasm involved will be in my wholehearted desire to prevent the greater of two evils.

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Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

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10 thoughts on “The Greater of Two Evils

  1. Political purity and condescension. I don’t know. Hard not to want to smack back. But I don’t really have an argument with anyone voting third party. I just stop listening when I hear disproportionate, misplaced rancor.
    I so admire the work you do. You are in the fight body, heart and soul. Interesting, thoughtful post.

    • Thank you so much, Tish. I’ve had a number of really good, respectful, thought-provoking conversations with folks voting third party this year. We agree on so much. There’s so much we can work on and accomplish together. I don’t understand the rancor. In this fight, there’s no room for it.

  2. So, Being afraid of the man in the magic underwear is your rationalization for supporting kill lists, indefinite detention, Drone Strikes, prosecutions of journalists, prosecutions of activists, prosecutions of whistleblowers, lies to war and secret wars.

    I am sorry, I do not see that cowardice excuses complicity.

    Jill Stein is on enough ballots to win, if people were to say NO to Fascism.

    Yes I said it.

    Please give me a more accurate word that accurately describes the merger of the corporation and the state, the abandonment of the rule of law, and politically motivated prosecutions. If you can I will retract my statement. If you cannot, then, please, be honest about what it is you are supporting with your fearmongering tactics. If you disagree that Obama meets these criteria, which are ONLY supported by Fascism to the best of my knowledge of various political theories, then please, educate yourself on his record, which is often in direct opposition to his rhetoric.

    If your chosen brand of Warmongering Ecocidal Fascist loses to the other brand of Warmongering Ecocidal Fascist, then do not whine to someone who refused to join you in actively supporting Warmongering, Ecocide, or Fascism.

    Don’t complain if the Warmongering Ecocidal Fascist you get is not a “pure enough” Ecocidal Warmongering Fascist for you. You are, afterall, getting most of the policies you voted for.

    You do not get a line item veto.

    It is your choice how you vote of course.
    I have a spine, I will be voting for Stein.

    I won’t have to hold my nose.

    Which side are you on?

    • I take it that you disagree with my assessment (and Ellsberg’s) that a Romney presidency would be significantly more destructive than a second term for Obama. I think the differences are great enough to warrant a vote against Romney. In my estimation, a vote for any third-party candidate is a vote for Romney. I can’t in good conscience do that, and I hope that there are others who feel the same. The further down we slide in the fascist rabbit hole, the more difficult it will be to claw our way out. Still, I respect your principles and your convictions. I sincerely hope you can do the same for me.

      • First let me explain basic math. A vote for Jill Stein is a vote for Jill Stein. Short of Electortal Fraud (which is emminently possible when the DPW cannot even make a point of this even tho it has been proven, does silence equal complicity?) A vote for Jill Stein counts ONLY as a vote for Jill Stein. It does not count for Romney. It is not a vote less for Obama, as I do not vote for Fascist Ecocidal Warmongers, so he has never had my vote.

        I think a nation where suddenly half of the nation is once again against war, extraordinary rendition, kill lists, indefinite dention, and for the environment, civil liberties, human rights, and all the things that Democrats stand for when they do not have an Obama label would be much better than seeing these policies go by on bipartisan consensus without objection.

        If you do not want to slide down the Fascist rabbit hole, then why are you actively supporting someone with kill lists, who let the Health Insurance industry write the ACA, and who declares a journalist an “enemy of the state” for reporting?

        You are actively supporting Fascism when you suppport Obama. Yes, Romney may be marginally worse in some regard, but at least people like you will oppose such policies coming from him. Obama has a proven track record here that your vote to re-elect him is showing him that you approve of.

        I am sickened that you need to resort to fearmongering in order to try to persuade those who actually do not support Fascism (no matter what brand name it is offered under) to support a Fascist.

        Please, if you wish to continue to pretend to do anything other than support Fascism, give me a better word that describes Obama’s landmark policies. Merger of the Corporation and the State, Abandonment of the Rule of Law, and Politically motivated prosecutions.

        I had developed respect for you during this uprising, BlueCheddar. I would think if anyone would refuse to resort to dissembling and would be willing to offer any other plausible explanation for their support for fascism than simple cowardice.

        You cannot claim to want to climb out of Fascism while simultaneously endorsing it. That is absurd.

        Especially when Gary Johnson will also be on the ballot, and you know a “libertarian” will draw massive votes away from Romney, what better time to actually say no to evil?

        Again, unless you can explain what policies you support of Obama’s over Stein’s your only argument is “be afraid of the man in the magic underwear” – Sorry I do not see anything approaching justificiations for extrajudicial kill lists there. We can’t get much closer to the bottom of the Fascist hole than that.

        Again, if your brand of Warmongering Ecocidal Fascist doesn’t win, it’s a bit disingenous to blame those who refuse to support Warmongering, Ecocide, and Fascism because the OTHER Warmongering Ecocidal Fascist did not win.
        You at least got most of what you actively supported, whereas I am voting for Peace, Green Jobs, Civil Liberties, Human Rights, and all those things that you were all for back when W had the monopoly on what are now Obama’s policies.

        War or Peace, Fascism, or sustainable Freedom….

        Which side are you on?

      • How many times do you fall for the same old “lesser of two evils” euphamism that tries to exuse complicity by claiming cowardice, while continuing to observe an accellerating rightward shift? What do they call repetitive actions hoping for different results?

        Are you Charlie Brown to the DNC’s Lucy?

      • I’ve said my piece. I sure wish you could voice your objections with less condescension. Doug Henwood has a few more good thoughts on this:

        I’m hoping that come November 7, we can turn away from big-time electoral politics again, which is where people who want more than minor transformations should be looking. Presidential politics, given the power of money and all our constitutional structures that nurture orthodoxy, is the natural terrain of the big boys. It would be much more fruitful to organize around specific issues, like single-payer health insurance and living-wage bills; to develop better institutions, like livelier unions and third and fourth parties; and if one must work in the electoral realm, to build from the bottom up, where the likes of us could actually make a difference.

        Amen to that. http://www.thenation.com/article/170650/why-should-left-support-obama#

      • Sorry, but it is hard not to condescend to those who think their cowardice is an exuse for complicity in war crimes.

        I am disspointed that, by lack of suggestion of another term that would be accurate, that it seems safe to say that you cannot think of a better term for what you are supporting than Fascism.

        It is a sad state that generations of “Lesser of Two Evils” has gotten us to, isn’t it?

        Hope you don’t get too many ghosts of the victims of your complicity visiting you in your sleep, I know I could not live with a decision like yours on my conscience.

        Just please, do not blame those of us that have a conscience if by our refusal to vote for a Fascist, you do not get a few minor policy positions you slightly prefer, seeing as you are getting most of what you are voting for no matter which Fascist wins. You get your wars and drone strikes and whistleblower prosecutions either way.

        Please do not pretend you have a line item veto when you cast your vote. You are voting for the whole package. Be proud of what you support.

        It is those of us who want peace and the ability of the human race to survive past the next 90 years that will not be getting any of what we support, due to the preferece for ecocidal warmogers that you are showing with your endorsement. It is a shame you would rather waste your vote on what you seem to agree with me is an open Fascist.

        Welcome to the land of the Jailed and the home of the Cowards. I suspect you will get what you want. I suspect I will be dissapeared. Been nice fighting Walker with you.

  3. I do agree that Romney would be worse than Bush.. I think he is more evil than Bush ever was, and anybody who thinks he is just a puppet of Rove et al isn’t watching. That uncontrolled temper; those sociopathic eruptions; this man is scary.

    And I do agree that a vote for anyone else other than Obama is a vote for Romney, no matter what kind of “issues” the voter has with Obama.

    Obama not moving fast enough on climate issues? Don’t worry; if you vote for a third party candidate in a swing state that pulls enough votes from Obama to throw the election to Romney, you can spend your days fighting to keep the Republicans from dismantling the EPA and turning the environmental clock back 40 years.

    Obama not getting out of Afghanistan and using drones? Don’t worry; if you vote for a third party candidate in a swing state that pulls enough votes form Obama to throw the election to Romney, you can spend your days protesting an unending war in Iran and you can swear at your t.v. as more young people are sent off to die in some Middle Eastern country.

    My biggest problem with the above article is that I do NOT by any stretch of the imagination consider Obama “evil”. Perfect? No.. but evil? Only in some kind of alternate Republican universe.

    • There’s a big difference between saying that a candidate is evil and saying that some of his actions are evil. Some of Obama’s actions have certainly been evil, enough so that I find it very difficult to vote for him. The drones, the war, the NDAA — to me these are inarguably evil, morally reprehensible, utterly indefensible. As much as I decry those actions, I believe that Romney’s actions would be vastly more so.

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