Lesser of Two Evils?

At this stage in 2012, the fact that there are undecided voters can be pretty shocking to those who have known for months (years?) who they were going to put their support behind. Some want Obama to get a second term, a continuing chance to fulfill some of the incomplete promises or missed opportunities of his first term (and continue with his outright successes). Others want Romney (or not-Obama) to take over the office to fix the economy that’s still stagnant 4 years later and repeal everything the incumbent has done over his first terms.

There are two types of undecided voters: Those who see that both candidates have their pros and cons and are still trying to determine whose pros outweigh their cons. And then there are those who see nothing but cons, a litany of ills that makes both men unfit for office, yet they (accurately) feel that throwing their vote to a third party candidate would be like tossing a bucket of water at a forest fire.

The first type are (hopefully) studying the candidates, researching their policies and figuring out which political sacrifices are more costly than others.

The second type are just going to pick the ‘Lesser of Two Evils.’

The Lesser of Two Evils

I’m bothered by this phrase. It’s likely one I’ve uttered at some time, and as a mere cliché phrase, it’s not so bad. You immediately get the point.

But in an election season, especially one as contentious and loaded with the weight of AMERICA’S FUTURE like this one, the phrase starts to become more than just pithy reduction and more of an accurate portrayal of what people believe they’re choosing between.  Namely, evil. Obama is an evil Socialist Muslim. Romney is an evil Bourgeois Mormon.

They want to strip away our freedoms. They want to keep the rich rich and the poor poor. They want us to be dependent on the government, or they want to prevent the government from helping those who need it. They want to see Israel fall or they want to continue policies that keep other nations in poverty.

It would appear that we have two candidates (and two political parties) who have more evil aspirations for the planet than the entire line-up of Bond villains.

And we know this because each party tells us what the other party is secretly planning. Thanks to mouthpieces like Fox News and MSNBC, the general population is inundated with the hidden agendas of our evil overlords, which thankfully, come in easy-to-digest, chewable Elephant and Donkey fun-shapes.

(Thanks to bloggers… like me?… those of us who don’t normally watch televised news still get the recycled and rehashed talking points fed to us intravenously.)

I just have one problem with this.

I’m not evil (pretty sure about this). And I voted for Obama, even still like Obama. This would seemingly indicate that Obama isn’t evil. Which leads me to believe that Romney isn’t evil.

If I’m to believe the vitriolic and apocalyptic rhetoric coming out of the camps of the Left, how can I not take seriously the like-minded warnings emanating from the mouths of their goatee-wearing, Mirror Universe counterparts?

I always have a problem when people speak for other people’s motivations, especially when they speak for en entire swath of the population. Parsing out the personal motivation of one person isn’t necessarily all that difficult, especially if you spend any amount of time with them. I pride myself on being able to deduce the thoughts and secret foundations beneath people’s actions once I’ve gotten to know them, but it’s always a risk to assume such foreknowledge about someone whom I’ve never met (no matter how sexy House makes it look).

Everyone seems to do it. Politicians, celebrities, artists, any public figure is subject to our insightful analysis. My problem is that I’ve met a lot of people, and most of us aren’t even astute enough to determine our own motivations, let alone those of people we only see through a screen.

It all starts to feel a lot like religion. People proclaiming a grasp on an unknowable truth, all the while shoveling disdain on other people’s version of ‘truth,’ never grasping the irony. Well, I didn’t buy it on Sundays, I’m not going to buy it on Tuesdays, either.

I don’t like Romney’s policies, no matter how many times he changes them. I really don’t like his running mate, Ryan’s, policies. There are aspects of Obama’s first term that are disheartening and generally I’m concerned when powerful nations use their status to bully or control other nations (I’m concerned when powerful anythings do this). But I like most of Obama’s policies and not only that, I like Obama’s policies more than any of the pointless third-party candidates. I’m not having to pick the lesser of two evils, because I want to vote for Obama.

I’m also not picking the lesser of two evils because neither Obama or Romney are evil. Hitler was evil. Pol Pot was evil. Stephanie Meyer was evil. Obama and Romney, they’re just politicians, on opposite (though not that polar) sides of a pretty mild spectrum.

If you want to vote for Romney, I’m probably going to want to debate you. Not whether or not he’s evil incarnate, but whether or not there’s any historical precedent for cutting taxes in a recession or whether gay marriage really undermines ‘traditional marriage.’ These are debates worth having, conversations that I think are even worth getting heated up over. And they’re the conversations evil dictators very rarely get entangled in, because, you know, they’re killing thousands of people.

And no matter who wins, Obama (yay!) or Romney (boo!), in four years we get to decide all over again. If we’ve moved in a truly untenable direction, we have the ability to right the ship a few years later. That’s the beauty of our system, it’s the genius of our forefathers and it’s the reason that all these people swearing that we’re heading towards a dictatorship are hyperbolic dunderheads.

So in conclusion: Suck it Romney! Obama 2012!

2 thoughts on “Lesser of Two Evils?

  1. Excellent analysis. Reading this made me very happy.

    What did you think of the actual debate? It seems to underline your point, as they spent a lot of their time a) being human and b) agreeing with each other.

    Although apparently Romney won. Ooh-err.

    Kudos from a Limey.

    • The debate was both refreshing and disappointing. Refreshing because while I think much of it probably got lost in the pageantry of the candidates trying to one up each other, I think they both got around to actually stating some positions. Which only went to show how much they resemble each other’s policies (Did anyone count how often one of them said, “I agree with…”?).

      Because the debates are a show (have been ever since JFK beat Nixon), there is no question that Romney “won” the debate. He came out stronger, more on point and with greater ease. If we did the classic “Radio vs Television” comparison from the JFK/NIxon debates, I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama would have fared better with an audio only crowd (though, admittedly, even his answers were a little disjointed), but I have no problem saying Romney gave his campaign a jumpstart with that performance.

      But it was a performance, and that’s ultimate where we’re left. The only policies of Romney’s I’ve liked have been the ones that were essentially Democratic policies. Otherwise, I disagree with them or, as is the more frequent case, I simply don’t know what his policies actually are. There were a number of times Romney managed to sidestep giving an actual answer by attacking Obama. It worked last night. I wonder if such a strategy can continue to work (especially over two more debates).

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