Why Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils

I know. It’s the wrong season for thinking about politics. Nonetheless, I’m thinking about it, and sometimes you have to serve up your ideas while they’re still warm.

A perennial (or perhaps biennial or quadrennial) question in the American political experience is “Should people of conscience vote for the lesser of two evils?” The question is of interest to all who care about right and wrong but carries special interest for Christians since their aim is to do all things in obedience to Christ.

My thesis is simple. In a vote between two evils, Christians ought to back the lesser of the two.

For the purposes of this essay, I’m assuming readers already believe Christians ought to vote. My aim is to present three arguments for voting for the candidate who is least evil, whether the office is President of the United States, U.S. Senator or Village Clerk.

1. Such a vote is the lesser of two evils.

The first argument for voting for the lesser of evils is in the proposition itself: less evil. Who can be against that? Here’s the argument one statement at a time:

  • It’s good to do what results in less evil.
  • Voting for less-evil candidates results in less evil.
  • Therefore, it’s a good thing to vote for less-evil candidates.

Let’s evaluate the argument one premise at a time.

The first premise should be an easy sell. All good people want to see less evil in themselves and in the world around them. Some may object that there really are no good people—and they’ve got a point. No one is “good” in the sense of Mark 10:18 (ESV: “No one is good except God”) or Romans 3:12 (“no one does good”). But many are good in the sense of Romans 15:14 (“you yourselves are full of goodness”), and even more are good in the sense of Proverbs 13:22 (“a good man leaves an inheritance”) and 14:14 (“a good man will be filled …”). All decent people are in favor of doing what results in less evil.

The second premise is the controversial one. What sort of voting behavior really results in less evil, especially in the long term? Three attitudes toward that question predominate. Some voters maintain that, over time, more good (less evil) comes from supporting only those candidates who are a near-perfect match to the ideal. In this view, though voting exclusively for superb candidates may have worse results in the short run, we would eventually see excellent results if everyone voted this way.

Another attitude is that there is no voting behavior that results in less evil. The world is doomed to ever increasing wickedness and there is nothing any of us can do about it. Evil will increasingly dominate until Christ establishes His geopolitical kingdom on earth by force.

Parts of that attitude resonate with me. In the end, evil will come to dominate the globe as never before, and that situation will be reversed only when Christ conquers. However, the Scriptures that reveal this end game have been in the Bible for more than two thousand years (much longer, if you include Daniel!). During that interval, human history has witnessed many periods of increased justice (and diminished evil) in various regions—sometimes for centuries.

Christians understand that human nature will remain sinful regardless, and that the redemption of the planet comes only through the reign of Jesus Christ. But it doesn’t follow that we are unable to reduce the evil in the world in one place or another for a few decades or longer.

So what kind of voting results in less evil in our land? The third attitude toward that question is that a voting strategy that results in less evil in the short run often results in less in the long run as well. Good ideas are amenable to more good ideas, and even a leader with few good principles is more open to improvement than a leader with zero good principles.

An objection is that the leader with only a few good principles must have a whole bunch of bad ones. And just as good ideas tend to lead to more good ideas, bad ideas tend to lead to more bad ideas. But this argument actually supports the third attitude: if both good and bad thinking tend to lead to more of the same, the leader who starts out with fewer erroneous beliefs is the best choice.

If less evil is better than more, and voting for the lesser of evils results in less evil, it follows that this is a wise way to vote.

2. The alternatives are imaginary.

At this point, we need to clarify what we mean by “evil” when we say “lesser of two evils.” In my experience, debaters on this point tend to equivocate, defining “evil candidate” sometimes as “garden variety sinner” and other times as “people like Stalin.” The “never vote for a lesser of evils” crowd uses a Stalinesque idea of “evil candidate” to argue against voting for a garden variety sinner they don’t like. The equivocation comes when they turn around and defend voting for the candidate they do like (also a garden variety sinner) because he is no Stalin.

Not exactly a strong argument.

So what do we mean by “evil” when we say “lesser of two evils”? As long as we’re internally consistent (that is, if we don’t equivocate), it doesn’t really matter. If we say an “evil candidate” is any candidate who is not Jesus Christ, then we really have no choice but to vote for “the lesser of evils.” On the other hand, if we say that an “evil candidate” is one who belongs in a whole different class from your average sinner—the class that includes Hitler, Stalin, and Saddam Hussein—it’s pretty unlikely that we’ll ever be choosing between two candidates who are in that class.

Either way, we’re stuck with voting for someone who is less imperfect than someone else.

“But there’s another category!” some insist. Any Christian is not an evil candidate. The thinking here is that if there are two top candidates who are unbelievers and one unelectable, obscure candidate who is a true disciple of Jesus Christ, we can vote for the third and avoid promoting the lesser of evils.

What this counterargument has going for it is that there is indeed a fundamental difference between the regenerate and the unregenerate. You’ll get no denial of that from me. It would also be hard to overstate the potential of that fundamental difference to change how a person weighs his options and governs.

However, the difference in how the believing leader weighs his choices and governs is a potential difference, not necessarily an actual one. Though the believer is fundamentally devoted to Christ, he or she does not necessarily respond to every choice with a conscious and passionate desire to know what would please our Lord. We should make every choice that way, but we all know we don’t. So what’s the real governing difference between an unbelieving candidate and a believing one? Because of the blessing of common grace—often in the form of Christian principles that influence even the thinking of some atheists—a Christian who is immature or poorly informed may govern less Christianly than an unbeliever who has been instilled with deeply Christian habits of thought and true breadth of knowledge.

Of course, having “deeply Christian habits of thought” will not save the non-Christian. Only faith in Christ, and the resulting imputed righteousness, can do that. But these habits will make him a wiser ruler than anyone who lacks them.

If you get out much, you’ll meet non-Christians who, despite their unregenerate condition, think and act much like Christians should. I don’t get out much, and even I’ve met a few. What I’ve encountered more often are professing Christians who do not evidence particularly Christian ways of evaluating the kinds of the moral and ethical questions statesmen face.

To summarize, then, while all believers are “righteous” in a sense that all unbelievers are not, this spiritual and positional difference does not necessarily correlate with governing in a truly Christian way. So when it comes to voting, we can’t class all non-believers as “evil” and all believers as “good” in any sense that relates meaningfully to ability to govern wisely and justly. The real choice we face is one of choosing among candidates who are evil in varying degrees and in different ways.

3. You can still vote your conscience.

I often see this issue framed as though there are two, and only two, choices: voting for a candidate who can win or voting your conscience. It’s an interesting disjunction. Let’s scrutinize it a bit. This argument basically says that you can either vote for a candidate who is nearly perfect or, if you vote for another guy, you are voting for all the things he lacks—you are falling to pragmatism. So a citizen (especially a Christian one) can either vote his conscience or he can vote according to practical considerations.

There’s an unstated premise in this argument: practical matters have nothing to do with conscience.

But how well does that hold up? Suppose I’m fleeing from a burning hotel and discover a damsel in distress on the way out. She’s helpless, pinned down by a heavy beam. For some reason, my many hours of typing haven’t resulted in enough muscle to free her. So what’s the right thing to do? If I stay with her, we both die. If I leave her there and run for help, someone might be able to get her out. The idealist reasons that practical results are irrelevant and conscience requires that a man of principle must not abandon a damsel in distress. But most people abandon idealism in these situations. They understand that conscience sometimes dictates that we do what is practical.

Proponents of “voting your conscience” often make the mistake of assuming that if practical considerations can ever define the conscionable choice, they must always define the conscionable choice. Worse, they often assume that if practical considerations have any role in making ethical choices, they must have the dominant or exclusive role.

But the truth is that there are at least three approaches to the relationship between conscience (principle) and practical results:

  1. Pragmatism: practical results are always decisive and are all that matter.
  2. Idealism: practical results are completely irrelevant; only principle matters.
  3. Principled realism: practical results are part of the principle that matters.

Two of these approaches are ways of “voting your conscience.”

If I believe that voting for candidate C (who is a close match to my principles) will result in the election of candidate A (who believes in very little that I know to be wise and good), and I vote for candidate B (who is better than A) for that reason, I am voting my conscience. I just don’t happen to be an idealist.

Whatever the ticket ends up looking like in 2012, Christians ought to vote with the goal of putting power in the hands of the lesser of evils.

[node:bio/aaron-blumer body]

6801 reads

There are 48 Comments

JNoël's picture

Great article, Mr. Blumer.

Regarding options 2 and 3, I propose that item 3 might be called wise idealism and item 3 naïve idealism. If my conscience tells me it is unwise to vote in such a way as to be supporting the "most evil" candidate, then it is "ideal" for me to vote for the "lesser of two evil" electable candidates. Stated differently, if there is no question that a vote for an unelectable candidate will result in a win for the "most evil" candidate, then the voter's conscience is best served by voting for the lesser of two "evil" potential winners.

Someday, the USA may have a true 3 way race where it is difficult to determine who are the likely winners (I'm really not looking forward to that day...see what happened in RI), but we have never seen a race like that in our lifetimes.

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg

G. N. Barkman's picture

Aaron,

Thanks for helping us think through a challenging issue. I think you are correct.

Cordially,
Greg Barkman

G. N. Barkman

DavidO's picture

I don't think all the alternatives are imaginary. Take a presidential race in which both major party candidates are repugnant to you beyond what your conscience allows you to endorse. And they wouldn't have to be a Stalin before that were the case for at least some voters.

Voting for a third (or fourth or fifth) party candidate who is below the MRT (Minimum Repugnancy Threshold), even if you know s/he can't win, is not throwing your vote away because "affecting the outcome" is not the only consideration.

juitdeflesch's picture

Thank You Aaron! You summarize my thoughts much better than I could. If I had to vote for the one I agree with most, I would have to do write-in for myself every time. However, we must try to spread as much righteousness and wisdom as is practically possible. Voting for pastor and voting for president are not in the same realms. Two totally different approaches must be made. You made it quite clear.

John Uit de Flesch

Matt Walker's picture

Aaron,

I appreciate what you are saying. However, it presupposes that a person is elected according to the vote. I'm not sure that's true. I've been wrestling with this in my mind so these thoughts are a bit raw (but that's what a blog is for anyway). If God sets up leaders and controls them as the Scripture indicates, then my vote is less about my choosing who wins the election and more about my doing what a responsible, Christian citizen does during an election. If I vote for an "evil," then what does that say about me?

Think of it this way. If the "man of sin" is revealed at the mid-point of the tribulation, his chief political accomplishment being peace in the Middle East three and a half years behind him, and if democracy continues to spread throughout that region of the world, then at some point it's possible that people, maybe even Christians, will have voted for him as the "lesser of two evils."

Matt

JNoël's picture

Sorry - I meant to say >> I propose that item 3 might be called wise idealism and item 2 naïve idealism. But everyone probably figured that out already. Wink

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg

Aaron Blumer's picture

DavidO, thanks for the Minimum Repugnancy Threshold concept. Handy.
I also agree that "affecting the outcome" is not the only consideration. Some reading I was doing a few months ago brought the subject of utilitarian ethics to mind again. It was fiction--which can be a great place to explore ethical systems. Anyway, the writer took the view that "greatest good for the greatest number" was always the operative prinicple--or at least his strongest characters seemed to think that way.
But I think the truth is more complex. I would say it this way: other things being equal, the greatest good for the greatest number defines the right choice. But "OTBE" covers quite a bit in this case.

Saw this little bit on a public TV lecture where a guy was talking about what he called "the trolly paradox." You have a trolly out of control going down this track. It comes to a fork. Then a series of questions has to do with helpless people on one fork or the other and what choices you would make if you can't save them both. He sets you up by asking, if there are two people lying helpless on track A and one lying helpless on track B, would you throw the switch to track B? Most would say yes because you can't stop the trolly and that's the greatest good for the greatest number.
Then he throws you a curve and says "What if there's a bridge over the track and the guy who was helpless on track B is now standing on the bridge... and if you push him off, he'll stop the trolly and save the other two?"
At the end, the greatest-good-for-greatest-number "score" is the same, but the meaning of the act is quite different.

Some things are just wrong, no matter what the practical outcome is.

I don't believe that voting for a bad dude for office is one of those things if it prevents a worse dude from getting the power of the oval office.

A big part of what it comes down to is a point I barely touched on in the essay: is voting for any man an endorsement of his flaws or an endorsement of his virtues? If he is a 98% good match w/our own convictions, and 2% bad match, we tend to think our vote is a vote for his virtues. But what if he's 98% messed up and 2% good? Why does our vote now mean we are endorsing his flaws?
Doesn't make sense to me.
Either a vote is a vote for his virtues regardless of the mix or the vote is a vote for his flaws, regardless of the mix. If the latter is the case, we should never vote for anyone!

Aaron Blumer's picture

Matt Walker wrote:
I appreciate what you are saying. However, it presupposes that a person is elected according to the vote. I'm not sure that's true. I've been wrestling with this in my mind so these thoughts are a bit raw (but that's what a blog is for anyway). If God sets up leaders and controls them as the Scripture indicates, then my vote is less about my choosing who wins the election and more about my doing what a responsible, Christian citizen does during an election. If I vote for an "evil," then what does that say about me?

Think of it this way. If the "man of sin" is revealed at the mid-point of the tribulation, his chief political accomplishment being peace in the Middle East three and a half years behind him, and if democracy continues to spread throughout that region of the world, then at some point it's possible that people, maybe even Christians, will have voted for him as the "lesser of two evils."

First, I think we have to work through what it means that God sets up and removes rulers. Does it mean that ordinary cause & effect lead to ruler A but He intervenes and raises up ruler B? Or is it that He uses means in carrying out His purposes? I think the biblical evidence favors the latter view as what usually happens.
The alternative tends toward fatalism... I could brush my teeth every day but God is in control of tooth decay, so why bother? I don't mean to mock; I'm just using an extreme example to explain my point. God is in control of tooth decay. Yet I am responsible to be a good steward of my health.

So I think the fact that God is in control of who becomes President has important implications but it doesn't mean that I have no role or responsibility in the chain of cause and effect.

As for the "man of sin" scenario. Very interesting. I think I'm inclined to say that, assuming we don't know that's who he is, our responsibility would be to vote for good policy and good character as far as we can discern it. Since the MoS is a master deceiver, it would be his responsibility to bear if he has gained power by false pretenses (Tangent: aren't all pretenses false? but that's how we say it). In other words, I don't think it's my fault if I vote for a guy who--after due diligence on my part--seems to be the best electable candidate and he later turns out to have been lying to all of us. That will be his burden at the judgment.

Shaynus's picture

Aaron,

This is a very good essay. I live in DC, it would be nice if all y'all outside the beltway would assist in kicking the bums out this election. I'm undecided myself. I don't like Romney or really Gingrich, but either would be a great alternative to the Obama White House. One interesting point to bring up is that when you vote for a man for President, you're voting not just for a man, but an entire governing apparatus. There are something like 7,000 Presidential appointments throughout the government. There is generally an appointee in every single office across every department. So part of the lesser of two evils idea (at least for President) is that there is a lesser of two evils not just on an individual level, but on the macro appointment level. When you vote for a president, you're often also voting for the Director of the Civil Rights Office at the Justice Department.

Regarding #2, it's interesting that in polling, if you hold up a named candidate (say Barack Obama) and "the other guy" (the GOP nominee), the generic option gets a lot better results than any named candidate. This is because we fill in our ideal candidate when not talking about actual people. We are all naturally idealistic.

Shayne

Matt Walker's picture

Aaron,

I do agree with you that we probably should work through God's influence in democratically held elections. My guess here is that God raises up rulers. Certainly that's the implication from Daniel, is the clear point of Paul's in Romans in reference to Pharaoh, and the "fullness of time" from Galatians seems to indicate some connection with the Roman Empire and Caesar. I don't think, however, that God's raising up leaders and my assurance of that (so much so that I end up voting for someone I don't believe will necessarily win) tends towards fatalism. There is a strong connection between my soteriology and my political point here. I vote for whom I believe should be our president. God actually chooses the man (or woman).

Again, these are pretty raw thoughts here. Smile

Matt

Aaron Blumer's picture

The question, Matt is how raises up rulers. I'm pretty sure we're all agreed that He does.

What if we try to put the question in the form of a principle:
Does God's sovereign control of something ever mean that our choices have no cause-effect relationship to it?
To say it another way, should we think that because God is in control, our actions have no causative result? And if they have a causative result, can we say that result has no ethical relevance?

As a general rule, I think we're on thin ice to reason that "Since God is in control of the outcome, the rightness of my action depends on what I mean by it and not by what it actually produces." (In this case, 'what I mean by it' is "I mean to support the man who is really top notch," even though he has no chance of winning.)
But I'd be interested in arguments to the contrary. I'm sure there are some.

At Christmas we often say it's the thought that counts. If I give a can of salted nuts to a colleague and he turns out to have an allergy and the nuts make him sick, I can justly console myself that I meant no harm. But if someone tells me in advance that the nuts will make my friend sick, can I reason "God is in control of who gets sick, and I mean to bless this person, so I'll give the gift and leave the results to God"?
(Let's ignore for the sake of argument that my friend ought to have the sense to avoid what will make him sick!)

My point is that it is not easy to use a sovereignty of God argument to honor intentions and dismiss real results.

Shaynus's picture

Matt, to add to my agreement with Aaron's answer to you: in our political context, try to view the electorate as part of how God raises up rulers. In the same way God might raise up Nebuchadnezzar, he also raises up a majority of voters in each state to form electoral votes, who elect the President. God still holds Nebuchadnezzar to account for his moral and governmental choices, even though God raised him to power. So too, I think he holds us to account for choosing our leaders (or not).

Greg Long's picture

Great article, Aaron. As a resident of Iowa, obviously I have an important role to play in the presidential election as I vote in the upcoming caucus (aren't we special?). I intend to caucus for my "ideal" (well, almost ideal) candidate on Jan. 3, but come the general election I will vote for the candidate that is the better of the two (or possibly three?) choices, even if he/she is not my "ideal" candidate.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Rather ironic that many who are unwilling to vote for the lesser of two evils happily will go to work and be under the vocational authority of someone who is quite contrary to their faith. So, you cannot support a potential President because he or she does not fit some spiritual, moral or general criteria so instead, you will vote for a 3rd party so you can go on your merry righteous way feeling absolved. But your conscience doesn't seem to plague you in this manner while you support the person(s) for whom you work who may be involved in all kinds of debauchery and your working for them continues to profit them and enable them to do so. Apparently the lesser of many evils is okay when it hits your pocket book in an immediate way but not when you are at a distance, then you may posture righteously. UGH.

Mike Harding's picture

Work hard in the primaries to get the best candidate possible. Nevertheless, when the primaries are over one will have to honestly consider which of the two major candidates would be best for the country. Ross Perot gave us Bill Clinton. Clinton never won a majority of the votes in either presidential election. The only hope for the failed Left in the upcoming election is to divide and conquer its opponents.

Pastor Mike Harding

Matt Walker's picture

I'm at a complete loss as to what you are saying. I guess it would be ironic...if it were true. If I was working for an employer who was involved in debauchery then I may have to get another job. I imagine my conscience would bother me about that. After scrolling through the different posts in this thread I find that I’m in the distinct minority so I’m not sure who else you are talking about here. Yet your argument does not apply to me at all. So again, I’m at a complete loss as to what you are saying. Maybe there was someone else you had in mind.

Matt

Aaron Blumer's picture

Matt, I think his point is that it's inconsistent to oppose lesser of evils voting but be OK working for someone who is as "evil" as any of the candidates.

He is probably right that most people do not consider themselves responsible for what their employers do outside the business--including those who would oppose voting for someone who doesn't quite meet their MRT (see a few posts up).
But because we're talking about "outside the business," I doubt it works well as an inconsistency argument.

But the question remains (also from a few posts up)... why is a vote for a "really bad candidate who is less bad than the other guy" seen as an endorsement of his flaws rather than as an endorsement of his virtues (even if he only has one the other guy lacks)?

Aaron Blumer's picture

Not quite on topic I suppose but the National Review crowd is pushing hard against Newt now... and they seem to have a point.
http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/285787/winnowing-field-editors
I'm sort of hoping someone who is not currently running decides to run, though Christie doesn't appeal to me any more than Newt.
Rubio maybe... Ryan? Jindall? Jeb?

JNoël's picture

Regarding Newt - it is an interesting article, but there were other articles in the same vein when Romney was at the head of the pack. None of the front runners are ideal candidates. Many have been saying that for months, really, and then Cain gained rock star status and then crashed hard because people found he wasn't ideal either. And let's not even get started on Ron Paul. Far from ideal.

This isn't the campaign for a Reagan/Roosevelt/Churchill/Thatcher leader. We may have to wait another generation before someone truly great comes along. (don't everyone jump on the Roosevelt comment - I did not say I agree with his positions, only that he was a truly great leader)

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg

Aaron Blumer's picture

I was reflecting on our times a bit a few weeks ago and the question struck me: why don't we have any more giants? I guess there are, arguably, still a few. But the whole concept of a "great man" seems to have died in Western civilization. I don't know which died first, all the great men or the idea of a great man.
When I say "great" I don't even mean "good," necessarily. "Giant" is probably a better word than "great." We don't even have evil giants anymore.
You could make the case that Steve Jobs was a giant of the tech. industry. Bill Gates might be in that category.
But we don't have great statesmen, great artists, great poets, great writers... we don't even have great evil dictators (Hussein was evil but a pretty pathetic excuse of an evil dictator. I put in the same sentence w/Hitler and Stalin but he's like the little league version of those guys. Likewise for the madmen in Iran and North Korea)

Maybe we still have giants but they are not recognizable in their own time. Or maybe we've killed greatness.
Either way, I agree that we will not get to choose among giants in 2012.

JNoël's picture

I remember discussing options with a colleague who personally makes the statement "I could never vote for a Republican." Last race, I told her "I cannot believe I have to vote for McCain." She replied: "I cannot believe I have to vote for Obama."

This time, it will either have to be a vote for Mr. Obama again, a vote for the Republican du jour, or a non-vote for a single-digit off-party candidate. Neither side of the viable candidates will be thrilled, both will be wondering where the inspirational leadership of days gone by has gone.

Maybe my kids will see the next giant. And, for their sake, I hope its not the Liberals' turn.

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Matt, I think his point is that it's inconsistent to oppose lesser of evils voting but be OK working for someone who is as "evil" as any of the candidates.

He is probably right that most people do not consider themselves responsible for what their employers do outside the business--including those who would oppose voting for someone who doesn't quite meet their MRT (see a few posts up).
But because we're talking about "outside the business," I doubt it works well as an inconsistency argument.

But the question remains (also from a few posts up)... why is a vote for a "really bad candidate who is less bad than the other guy" seen as an endorsement of his flaws rather than as an endorsement of his virtues (even if he only has one the other guy lacks)?

The underlying principle of the point is what works as an inconsistency argument. One cannot object on the very grounds they ignore for other pursuits.

But, my own thoughts are that the most qualified candidate is a person who understands principles of freedom and nationalism. Government leadership is not a spiritual exercise, it is a civic and human exercise. If someone understands our constitutions and its principles and can maximize its expression in governing this country, they are the most qualified.

So it staying away from the voting booth you are still committing an act, an act of omission which will affect the outcome. By voting for a third party you are saying they match your demands, but they don't, really, not in full, now do they? You will still have some objections to even this third partier.

JNoël's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
You will still have some objections to even this third partier.

Good point, Alex. We'd have found something wrong with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and (sorry, all who apply) Ron Paul, too. And so since it is all relative, since there is never a "No Evil" candidate, the best vote, therefore, is for the one who will have the greatest net positive impact. Voting for a "least evil" candidate (third party candidate) is a vote for one of the majority candidates. If the third party candidate is a conservative, then the result is a greater percentage for the viable liberal, and is therefore a vote for liberalism.

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg

farmer Tom N's picture

Just curious, would you consider your pragmatic "lesser of the two evils" approach to be the kind of thing Daniel did in Daniel 1:8?

Was it "less evil" to eat the kings meat or "less evil" to refuse to eat the kings meat.

Surely you wouldn't consider his principled stand, to not violate his conscience, a good thing would you?

We can't have people getting all uppity and thinking outside the Hegelian dialectic now can we.

from Wikipedia

Quote:
Something is only what it is in its relation to another, but by the negation of the negation this something incorporates the other into itself. The dialectical movement involves two moments that negate each other, something and its other. As a result of the negation of the negation, "something becomes its other; this other is itself something; therefore it likewise becomes an other, and so on ad infinitum"

If two things are two sides of the same coin, they are very closely related although they seem different.

Your argument then, is that we should choose the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menshevik ]Mensheviks over the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_of_the_Soviet_Union ]Bolsheviks ?

I wonder which you identify with more the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadducees ]Sadducees or the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharisees ]Pharisees ?

Just suppose that there were a new guy on the block, (some radical named Jesus, who represented a threat to the power of the two party system) who did not represent the various political, social and religious roles represented by the Pharisees or the Sadducees, would you stick to the two party system because one represented the lesser of two evils?

I wonder if this is how you do your local church government as well? Since Joe Bob is only hooked on pornography and not actually committing adultery (physical intercourse with someone to whom he is not married) like Jimbo, then we will put the "lesser of the two evils" on our deacon board.

interesting standard you have. Mind if I steal your car? That's the lesser of two evils you know, cause I was going to steal your daughter.

No wonder we have the immoral, godless, spineless politicians we have in this country. The only criteria for public office is that they are "less evil" than the current occupant of the White House. Less evil being relative of course.

Aaron Blumer's picture

farmer Tom N wrote:
Just curious, would you consider your pragmatic "lesser of the two evils" approach to be the kind of thing Daniel did in Daniel 1:8?

1. The question assumes an incorrect definition of pragmatism.
2. The Daniel analogy fails because there is no similarity to voting for an elected official. (The Daniel case refers to an action rather than a person, refers to something forbidden vs. something not, etc., etc.)

Quote:
Surely you wouldn't consider his principled stand, to not violate his conscience, a good thing would you?

Of course I would. I recommend that you read the article.

Quote:
Hegelian dialectic now can we.

I have reason to doubt that you even know what the Hegelian dialectic is. It has no relevance to the discussion.

Quote:
Your argument then, is that we should choose the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menshevik ]Mensheviks over the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_of_the_Soviet_Union ]Bolsheviks ?

Read the article and see if you can get my argument a little more accurately.
Quote:

Just suppose that there were a new guy on the block, (some radical named Jesus, who represented a threat to the power of the two party system) who did not represent the various political, social and religious roles represented by the Pharisees or the Sadducees, would you stick to the two party system because one represented the lesser of two evils?

The analogy fails again for the same reasons.

Quote:
I wonder if this is how you do your local church government as well?

Actually, yes, pretty much. I have never yet voted for a perfect man.

Quote:
interesting standard you have. Mind if I steal your car? That's the lesser of two evils you know, cause I was going to steal your daughter.

Again, you confuse categories.
Stealing = action. Candidate = man.
Stealing = prohibited in Scripture. Voting for an imperfect man = not prohibited.

Quote:
No wonder we have the immoral, godless, spineless politicians we have in this country. The only criteria for....

Again, I recommend you actually read the article... see if you find where I said "only criteria."

I probably won't respond any further if you don't give the piece a thoughtful read and interact with what's actually there.

Jim's picture

The case for the Constitution Party:

http://www.constitutionparty.com/party_platform.php

Under section: http://www.constitutionparty.com/party_platform.php#Sancity of Life ] Sanctity of Human Life

Quote:
The pre-born child, whose life begins at fertilization, is a human being created in God's image. The first duty of the law is to prevent the shedding of innocent blood. It is, therefore, the duty of all civil governments to secure and to safeguard the lives of the pre-born.

To that end, the Constitution of these United States was ordained and established for "ourselves and our posterity." Under no circumstances may the federal government fund or otherwise support any state or local government or any organization or entity, foreign or domestic, which advocates, encourages or participates in the practice of abortion. We also oppose the distribution and use of all abortifacients.

We affirm the God-given legal personhood of all unborn human beings, without exception. As to matters of rape and incest, it is unconscionable to take the life of an innocent child for the crimes of his father.

I would like to suggest that perhaps this 3rd alternative is the least evil!

Alex Guggenheim's picture

With the above in mind, has the Constitutional Party addressed the process of embryo cryopreservation which is an an aspect of in vitro fertilization (IVF)? Never minding the process itself which requires medical personal, along with everyone else involved, to treat the fertilized egg as something other than an object with the qualifications of "legal personhood" (though not necessarily every element of the process but some indeed) .

The cryopreservation is, according to the standard of the Constitutional Party, equal to taking an adult human and freezing them against their will or, of course, disposing of them. This definition and position by the CP would automatically make illegal the process of IVF because of, in the least, its by-product of cryopreservation. Again, I am interested if they have taken this posture and applied it as thoroughly as it would require and dealt with these inevitable issues.

Pages

Help keep SI’s server humming. A few bucks makes a difference.