Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Lesser of Two Evils is Still... A Crock of Muddled Thinking

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I saw it again today.
"If you vote for "X" over Obama, you're just choosing the 'lesser of two evils'. And the lesser of two evils is still evil."

I mostly hear it about Ron Paul, usually delivered in a vaguely smug and condescending tone. "X" is only different in degree from Obama, (in this area or that) therefore if you vote for anyone but "Y", you are choosing evil."

This facile argument is deeply flawed. It takes a statement which is true and weds it in unholy matrimony to an assumption which may be (and generally is) completely false, but the true statement gives it some semblance of truth.

While it is true that when you choose the lesser of two actual evils, you are choosing evil, it does not follow that every time you choose between a lesser and a greater good, that any of your choices are evil.

Voltaire, pointed that "The perfect (or the better) is the enemy of the good." If you reject everything or everyone that isn't perfect, you reject all (or in the case of the Paulites, nearly all). If you compare candidates on a scale of one hundred where one hundred is the perfect conservative and President Zero is, by some coincidence, zero, maybe your candidate comes in at an eighty five, but that doesn't mean that the other candidates, who may only come in in the seventies or low eighties, are "evil". That is a mere verbal "sleight of hand", where one directs your attention away from what is real and shows you what one wants you to see.

Please banish the "lesser of two evils" argument from your discussions. It only muddles the very important discussion of which of the flawed* individuals running for President, on both sides, will be the greater good for our nation. He or she, I guarantee you, will not be perfect.

I intend to vote for the person who will bring greater good to this country. Part of the ability to bring this greater good, is the ability to get elected first. A "perfect" candidate who cannot get elected can sit on the sidelines for four years and say, "See? I told you so!", but that will not stop the harm being done to the republic in the meantime.

The perfect is the enemy of the good. Those who call "evil" that which is not evil are enemies of the good as well.

*See: Original sin

Cross posted at LCR, Say Anything.


  1. A truly excellent pun in that photo. You know you're going to hell for it, don't you?

  2. Ah, well. The things I do for my readers!


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