On Voting for the Lesser of Evils

As election day is dawning upon us, emotions are running high, particularly among those entrapped in the major political party of their choice, urging those of us who cannot abide either of the major party nominees to pick the “lesser of evils”.  The reason given depends on which side of the divide from which it comes.  I’ve been hearing, or expect to hear, from my Obama-supporting friends, “You MUST vote for Obama, because we cannot have eight more years of Bush”.  Or “because we have to stop the wars”, or “we have to clean up the economic mess of the last eight years.”  Then I hear from my McCain-supporting friends, “We have to stop Obama because the risk of his socialism is just too great”; or “If you help Obama win, your taxes will be higher”; or “If you vote third-party, you will help Obama and the continued slaughter of millions of innocent unborn each year”.

My initial response to all this is that the lesser of evils is still evil, and I cannot in good conscience vote for something I consider evil, whether it be the greater or the lesser. This is not to say that I would never vote for someone I might disagree with.  Were that the case, I couldn’t vote for anyone!  But voting for evil in the name of stopping a perceived greater evil is still perpetuating evil!

A more thoughtfully considered response to the above, though, would be to point out the flaws in the reasoning behind the various pronouncements.  To those who say that Obama would end “eight years of Bush” or “end the wars”, I would point out that Obama’s fiscal and foreign policies will hardly change much of anything we’ve seen for the past eight years.  Indeed, if the last two months are any indication, given the whole-hearted support for the various bailouts by both Obama and McCain, we will not see any positive changes from the status quo from either a President Obama or a President McCain.  We will see more of the same, and it will only make things worse by delaying any real chance of correction and recovery, and by resulting in even more loss of liberty.  Obama is very much committed to continuing the wars (as they are deemed necessary) and foreign intervention by shifting troops around the world like a chess game.  There is no such thing as a “good war”.  War is terrible, to be avoided as greatly as possible.

About McCain and the pro-life position, I would point out that McCain’s support of pre-emptive war cannot be reconciled with being pro-life.  Over a million lives have been lost to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, all of them innocent, not the least because the wars were illegal by virtue of being undeclared by Congress.  The U.S. started the wars, thereby violating one of the criteria of the Just War Theory of Christianity.  And regarding abortion, though I do not believe this is an issue that can or should be looked to be resolved at the national level, the fact is that electing Republicans (even with Republican control of the White House and Congress) has done nothing to stop the practice of abortion.  I would argue that the long-standing strategy of the pro-life movement (of a top-down national prohibition) has failed, and has actually helped continue the status quo it so greatly opposes.

As for the socialism argument, I’ve already written here about this, but the sanctimonious arguments against Obama by McCain and his apologists over that particular issue call to mind the proverbial “four fingers pointing back at yourself”.  Of course much about Obama’s platform is socialism of various sorts, but the same is true of McCain’s record. Besides his role in the bailout measure, with McCain now hinting at a possible bailout for the auto industry, his credibility as an antidote to socialism is completely shot.  To answer all the outrage over Obama’s “spread the wealth” remark, I would remind my Republican friends that we have had a progressive income tax since 1913, which is founded on the very premise of “spreading the wealth”.  Frequently overlooked are the ways in which corporate welfare programs and other kinds of corporate favors from the government (even including lucrative defense contracts that benefit sectors of the military-industrial complex) effectively “spread the wealth”, by robbing the taxpayers (particularly of the lower and middle classes) and redistributing that money to the various corporate interests.  So I would say that at least Obama made his comment in a remarkable moment of candor.

I’ve also stated before that neither Obama nor McCain have a clue as to what has caused the current economic crisis or what to do about it, and both have played a role in supporting policies that have caused and exacerbated the problem.  Neither has a proper understanding of economics, and both are served by advisors who advocate more of the Keynsian economic theories that have led us to where we are now.  Neither of them have any understanding about monetary policy or of the wisdom of following what the Constitution requires about the establishment of sound money (backed by gold and/or silver).  Both are guided by desperate attempts to affect things in the short run, with no clue is to whether any of it will work or what the long-term consequences might be.  Both have voted for higher taxes and spending, as well as for more deficits.

I would not look to either Obama or McCain to stop or reverse the destruction of civil liberties, given the support of both candidates for the Patriot Act and the FISA bill.  Both support continued expansion of the nanny-state government that presumes to know what’s best for us (“We are from the government, we are here to help, and it’s for your own good!”) and undermines individual liberty and privacy.  Both support the continuation of the failed War on Drugs.  Both have expressed support for the concept of mandatory “national service”, which would violate the Thirteenth Amendment (not to say that such thing would have passed constitutional muster prior to the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment).  Neither candidate can be counted upon to defend the Bill of Rights, for the reasons mentioned above (violating the Fourth Amendment), as well as on account of the support of measures that violate the First Amendment (“campaign finance” legislation, i.e., “McCain/Feingold”) the Second Amendment, and the Tenth Amendment (pretty much everything each one has supported).

Getting back to the whole question of what the voter is to do when faced with such a dilemma, the first thing to recognize is that the two-party system is dominated by a small group of corporate interests who use their money to influence decisions and receive special favors from the government.  We can take a stand against this kind of evil.  While there are some in libertarian circles (including the brilliant Lew Rockwell) who have made the case for not voting, I would suggest that voting for a third-party candidate (or registered write-in candidate) is the most effective way to make a statement at the national level that will be taken seriously and can be measured tangibly.  It is not my purpose here to advocate for any one of the third-party candidates as being preferable to another.  In fact, I will disclose that I do not find any one of the third-party presidential candidates on the ballot in Alabama as ideal.  My preference would be to vote for Ron Paul, if only his name were on the ballot.  But the reality is that he is not, and I have weighed my own decision as to who I will vote for.  I would encourage any of you who regularly visit this site, as well as anyone else who has difficulty supporting either Obama or McCain, to take a serious look at the third party candidates (be it Barr, Baldwin, Nader, or McKinney), and choose one who most closely reflects your views and values, and especially one who has an understanding of the things I have spoken to.

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