Steve Johnson (EC)
by on April 23, 2019
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For years now I've been repeatedly told that in every election I have only a binary decision. In 2016 it was pick Hillary or pick Donald... there were no other choices according to many. Let's put aside this fact: a vote for NEITHER ONE is NOT a vote for EITHER one. The flawed logic in the binary decision argument is that in any election, the voter's obligation to select between two (and ONLY two) candidates trumps (no pun intended) any moral obligation to eschew bad candidates entirely. The result: America ends up with a "lowest-common-denominator" politics where voters may (and often are required) to excuse any and ALL bad behavior by any and all candidates.
In Matthew 7:3 we are enjoined not to "look at the speck in your brother's eye but fail to notice the beam in your own eye." However, this "lesser of two evils" politics tells me that I ought to ignore BOTH the specks and beams in anyone's and everyone's eyes because -- well, all the opponents have specks and beams in their eyes. It seems this political philosophy suggests a zero-sum game.
Hillary lied about her private server. So what, at least she did not brag about bribing politicians. Trump was rude to women and made awful remarks about them. So what, at least he didn't claim that a former KKK member was his mentor. Hillary threatened a woman her husband allegedly raped? Well, at least she doesn't go on national TV and deride a female reporter's menstrual cycles. Trump mocks a disabled journalist? Well, at least he didn't abandon four Americans in Benghazi. And so we are left with a choice between flawed candidates having to choose which candidate's flaws we find less offensive, less disgusting... which flaws can we live with for the next 4 years and which flaws can we not tolerate at all.
Identifying the political/moral/ethical flaws in one's political opponent is a cottage industry in American politics nearly from our country's inception. However, it is extremely counterproductive for voters. Why? Because it suggests and often even requires that we overlook all the flaws in our chosen candidate. Therefore, if Hillary is the devil and Donald is the anti-Christ, then there's always an easy excuse for anything your chosen candidate does or says. Donald Trump could run a woman over with his car. By the lesser-of-two-evils logic, he is still better than the Democrats who elevated an actual murderer (Ted Kennedy).
We would do much better if we focused on making an AFFIRMATIVE case for our chosen candidate. Why does this candidate deserve my vote -- without reference to any other candidate. Let each candidate stand or fall on their own merits, not because their evils were somewhat lesser than their opponent's.
Unfortunately, the lesser of two evils strategy is too-ingrained in the American political psyche. Whichever side engages this most successfully is likely to win the election. If we as voters don't stop buying into lesser-of-two-evils politics, we're only going to have evils to choose from in every election. With each subsequent election, we will lower the bar and get worse and worse evils each time. It's time to make a change and start demanding better from those who run for office -- from POTUS down to local offices. We must put an end to the "lesser of two evils" if we hope to save our nation and our Constitutional republic.
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