The Lesser of Two Evils

I was talking with my friend Mike recently, and we hit the topic of politics. I said that I was voting for Kerry because, while I despise the ‘two-party system’ we have, I feel that Bush is a bad President and needs to be removed. Mike is voting for the Libertarian candidate; because, while voting for Kerry is the Lesser of Two Evils, that would still be voting for evil.

Unfortunately, there is a difference between Theory and Practice. While I would ideally vote Libertarian I believe that in Practice that vote would be wasted. At this time, there are simply not enough Libertarian votes to win an election, and my vote will not breed other votes. If my party has no possible chance of winning then my vote will not affect the outcome of the election. So, in Practice, I will continue to espouse Libertarian principles in order to spread awareness of a worthy third party and I will vote for Kerry because Bush must go. I’m going to vote for the lesser of two Evils because in this particular battle Good doesn’t have a chance in Hell of winning.

If one really wants to avoid a choice of the lesser of two evils, then you must positively act to make that third option a reality. Simply casting a vote for a third party on Election Day is a token gesture. It’s like lottery tickets: a way of appeasing the masses who want to be rich but who don’t want to work for it. The people who really want that third option to become a reality are out working for change.

Yes, I’m voting for the Lesser of Two Evils; but I honestly believe that in doing so I have a better chance of removing the Greater of Two Evils.

6 Replies to “The Lesser of Two Evils”

  1. Your vote will be wasted anyway since the President is elected to office not by popular vote, but by the Electoral College. Therefore, you might as well vote your conscience. Also, if all third-party voters follow this logic we will never see a third-party candidate in office.

  2. It is true that we live in a sort of disassociative republic, with the electorial college between the popular vote and the real vote. The electorial college does tend to go with the established popular vote. Were this not the case, I would like to think that our shrub would have been pruned.

    I’m sorry, but I think you only saw half my logic when you said that ” if all third-party voters follow this logic we will never see a third-party candidate in office”. I didn’t say that I would never bote third party. I will vote third party when it has a chance of winning. In the mean time I will contine to espouse the Libertarian point of view, and in doing so I honestly believe that a third party will eventually become a major force. Perhaps not in my life time; but I take the long view of things. And in deference to the long view, I believe that George W. Bush must be a short termer y any means legal and possible.

  3. I had a recent discussion thread on my LJ on this very topic, and I completely agree. Basically, I think it comes down to priorities. If you are truly ambivalent about the two major canidates, and would be equally happy or unhappy with either… then voting your conscious is a good way to go. But if you have any preference of the two, or really don’t want one of them – a vote for anyone but the primary two is a vote for the leading candidate. It’s nice to be idealistic that the world will change – and it will – but it’s not going to change overnight. A third party underdog isn’t very likely to sweep up the votes. New ideas and change takes time… there’s a reason that those of us that live on the fringe are not in the mainstream.

    Anyway, if you wanted to check out the interesting dialouge from my LJ –

  4. My ideal ballot would have two check boxes for each candidate. One for, one against. Each person only gets one vote, and they can use it for either one For or one Against. So, if you really like candidate A, vote For A. If you don’t really have someone you like, but there is someone you really despise, vote Against them. When the votes are tallied the againsts are subtracted from the For votes.

    I can dream… 🙂

    As for our two-party system, it is younger than I am. As recently as 1968 the presidential election was a very close three-way race between a Democrat, a Republican and a third party candidate. A lot of change can happen in one lifetime, and I don’t think that I’ll always have to ‘vote evil’.

    “If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no
    candidates or measures you want to vote _for_ … but there are
    certain to be ones you want to vote _against_.”
    -Lazarus Long, from “The Notebooks of Lazarus Long”

  5. And I don’t actually believe other people are responsible enough that voting Libertarian is the right thing to do. Sure I am responsible and can make informed choices while weighing the long-term impact of my decisions, but I don’t know that I could name a dozen other people who can.

    I don’t think it’s a concept that scales well. It’s a terrific idea when you can know everybody in your community, whether you do or not. Once you grow out of the size where everyone is truly interconnected, it’s over.

    Sure it’s the kind of government I would like to have, but the world is full of morons. It’s not the kind of government I want them to have.

  6. I would argue that it is not necessary for a party to elect a candidate in order for their campaign to have been successful. If Libertarians win 3 or 4 percent of the vote, then they succeed in establishing themselves as a subgroup to whom major candidates have to address themselves. Right now, nobody is talking about smaller government and the lower costs/debt and greater liberties that would bring. But if Libertarians can say “Hey, here we are, you have to sell yourself to us too, because if not, we’ll tell our friends what’s wrong with your campaign” then they have to make those arguments, and make people aware that there is a point in talking about smaller government.

    One thing I learned the other night was that the Badnarik campaign, having limited funds, decided to give some special attention to New Mexico, because (a) the popular vote was split just about perfectly 50-50 between Bush and Kerry, and (b) almost the entire population of the state lives in and around just 3 cities. So they bombarded New Mexico with TV and radio ads, personal appearances, mailings, and so on, and after this they commissioned another Rasmussen poll, and what did they find? Now, 5% were definitely voting for Badnarik, and another 5% had become undecided! They apparently influenced ten percent of the vote and the only thing different was that they had sufficient funds, in this case, to do so. (They have no FEC funding and according to FEC rules can only accept $2000 or less from any one individual, it’s a wonder that they have any money at all.) And THEN – this is the good part – guess what happened next? Bush changed his schedule and went straight to New Mexico for some campaigning. Badnarik said that he had no proof that it was his campaign that influenced Bush to do this, but he likes to think so.

    My point is that electing a candidate this time is not necessary for your vote as a Libertarian to still be essential. (a) If they get enough of the vote (it’s either 3% or 5%, I can’t remember which) they will start to get FEC funding. Imagine what would happen if the Libertarians were able to get the word out on national television like the D’s and R’s can? (b) They absolutely do have the chance to establish themselves as a constituency group not to be ignored. (c) Look at the Socialist party. They have never elected an official to public office, but nevertheless during the last century, almost every point on their platform has been put in place: social security, medicare, welfare, etc. Despite their failure to elect anyone, they have been described (on these grounds) as one of the most successful political parties in American history.

    And besides this, I don’t know if I agree that Kerry is necessarily the lesser of the two evils. Kerry’s ideas on Social Security are idiotic. Check out this NPR report: Kerry is like, “Uh, We are absolutely not going to reduce benefits or raise the retirement age, but, uh, everything’s going to be fine! Hooray!” He doesn’t have a fucking clue. The guy is a moron, AND a liar (about his military record), AND he’s for the war (This week. I think.) Not that I want Bush – the guy’s 2nd middle name is corporate welfare, and he’s made a crazy mess out of Iraq – but think about it. They both suck. We have to consider the big picture, consider our future. If we are always reacting to sucky choices, we will never outgrow them! Let the electoral college figure itself out, and vote your beliefs. And if you are so inclined, consider getting the word out.

    In recent history, the presidential debates have come under the control of an organization that will not let 3rd parties participate, and as a result, they have been turned into a WWF farce. This guy Nader is on the ballot in only 30 something states, has no party affiliation (i.e. no established constituency), and yet he’s being showcased in polls and newspaper stories because the media think he’s cute. Badnarik, on the other hand, is on ballots in 48 states, and has a fighting chance of achieving 2% of the vote, but none of the traditional outlets will say a word about him. Why? Shouldn’t we fight that?

    As far as alternative voting systems, as you point out there are many options, two of the most appealing that I have heard of being instant runoff voting (everyone ranks the candidates) or Badnarik’s preference, approval voting (where you put a check mark next to every candidate you’d be OK with, and the winner gets the most votes). Of course, there is no talk about alternate voting schemes, either. People are too busy being reactive. Or apathetic.

    It’s up to us smart people to do something about it!

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