The Logic of Lesser Evilism

The 2016 Democratic national convention is being highlighted by the discussion over whether or not to vote for Hillary Clinton as a so-called lesser evil.” Even if you don’t like her or her policies, mainstream Democrats say, it’s important to vote for her because otherwise, Donald Trump will be elected and he will be worse. But what happens if, in the next election, Donald Trump runs against someone worse than Donald Trump? Would Donald Trump be the best choice then? If so, why would be unjustified to vote for him now?

32 Comments. Leave new

  • We seem to be hardwired in such a manner that harm avoidance (usually) trumps (pardon the pun !) attaining positive goals (that it doesn’t always work is obvious from, e g, drug addictions) ; thus the lesser of two evils. Alas, in the Clinton/Trump race for US president, we are faced rather with a case of the Evil of two Lessers, for which our genetic/epigenetic inheritance doesn’t seem to have prepared us for such a situation….

    Guess that Intelligent Design wasn’t so intelligent after all….


  • Hmm… so the “lesser evil” that the protagonist votes for always loses, leading to the world/his choices getting progressively worse, right? Could that possibly be because all his friends are “rejecting the logic of lesser evilism” and staying home or casting ineffective protest votes in a system that does not allow for them?

    Is the message supposed to be just that “voting is not enough to make things better”? But then no argument is being made that voting for your preferred viable choice is not still important anyway…

    • The problem of lesser evilism is that every election, we’re told that it’s The Last Election That Really Matters. But if no one votes for third parties, they can’t gain media coverage and debates and ballot access, so we’re stuck with the same bad two choices.

    • «But then no argument is being made that voting for your preferred viable choice is not still important anyway…» Well, «c30», you seem to have missed the point that in the so-called «Lesser of two Evils» (a misnomer, the «Evil of two Lessers» would be more accurate) scenario, neither of the two «choices» offered is «preferred», quite the contrary. There is also good reason to doubt whether either of the two alternatives currently offered by the the major US parties can be described as «viable» if, by that term, we mean a sporting chance for H sapiens sapiens to survive the next four years….

      Were a majority of eligible voters who are dissatisfied with the current system and the current choices – which, if the «likability» polls are representative, would seem to be a majority of all eligible voters – were to vote for the third party candidates whom they prefer, the grip of the two major political parties (read : Mafia factions) on the political process in the United States could be broken. The next task would be to abolish the first-past-the-post system, which contributes so greatly to distorting the representation of the population’s political views and replace it with a more representative system. Doing so will not, alas, usher in the Second Coming, but it might well help to make the US – and therewith the world – a better place….


      • I am currently “discussing” that very reasoning with “friends” on Facebook. “A vote for Jill Stein is a vote for Trump,” I’m told. I don’t want to yell: “BULLSHIT!” but I’m tempted. Where did this mentality arise, that one MUST vote for one of only two?

        I keep in the back of my mind Ted’s perspective that a vote for either major-party candidate is an endorsement of their past votes and actions. I agree with him that a vote for Hillary says that I support those of hers, and I cannot in good conscience do that.

        It is Jill Stein for me. If all disillusioned voters would do the same, she would become the first woman president of the United States.

  • I still think Trump is running as a favour to his BFF Bill. He proposed making Muslim wear yellow crescents, which is a perfect example of auto-Godwinism. He seems to be doing his best to alienate all African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, and women. Michael Moore and the author of Dilbert both think Trump will win. The author of Dilbert doesn’t care, but Michael Moore says every sane American must get out and vote for Billary.

    Given that Trump doesn’t have many who will vote for him, I have to ask, ‘How is he going to win in a landslide???’

    I read the gocomics comments. Many were, ‘How can any reasonable person not agree that Billary is the best qualified candidate for president EVER?’

    Some anti-Hillary types said, ‘But she started 2 wars.’

    ‘No, she didn’t. Only the President can start wars, and she’s never been president. Bush, jr started Iraq, and when Senator Clinton agreed, she did the right thing, and Obama ordered the assassination of Qadhafi, not Secretary Clinton, and, again, that was the right thing to do.’

    Now, of course, Billary have promised to remove the evil dictator of Syria immediately after taking office. But the evil Putin has said he will not let anyone overthrow the legitimate government of Syria. He not only must meekly back down on Syria, but must also give back the Crimea, or Billary will teach him a lesson he’ll not soon forget. Wasn’t there a Frenchman and a German who tried that? Well, Billary’s unconditional victory will prove she’s tougher than the Frenchman or the German.


    After Bush, sr convinced Saddam to attack Kuwait, and then defeated Saddam in 100 hours, I was opposed to Bush, sr. Clinton seemed like a neo-liberal, to the right of Bush, sr, so I voted for Perot. With 20/20 hindsight, I’d have voted for Bush, sr. Clinton replaced AFDC with, ‘The man named as father must pay 100% of what the judge gives the single mother. If he has it, the IRS must garnish it. If he doesn’t have it, he must be gaoled until he pays the last penny.’

    My wife said she’d cuckolded me with one of the Greatest Men in West Virginia, I was insanely jealous, and I had many NRA gold medals. The judge ordered me to pay 125% of my take home pay, or go to a concentration camp with no food or medicine until I died. But, he said, he could not gaol me until I was a year behind, so, at 11 months, I went on the lam, living as a tramp (but better than a concentration camp).

    And I detest all things Clinton and wish I’d voted for Bush, sr instead of Perot.

    • No disrespect, Michael, but for the life of me I cannot understand how you can be on the Left after all you’ve been through. You must be aware that the monstrous family law system has not always been so, and that it has been created as thus by feminist academics?

      • Your sarcasm detector is in serious need of repairs.

        (&btw, the ‘family law system’ was established long before women got the vote, let alone the time when they were allowed in academia.)

      • «Your sarcasm detector is in serious need of repairs.» CrazyH, you must realise that the ability to detect irony is, like that of most traits, distributed among the population according to a normal (Gaussian) curve. In the case of the person who chooses to post under the sobriquet «Jack Heart», this faculty seems to find itself far out in the left-hand (O the irony !) tail…. 😉


      • Note that Clinton was considered Left.

        I see CrazyH posted a link to a UK summary of child support that is completely inconsistent with the facts.

        Between AFDC and Clinton, divorce was a civil suit. Failure to pay was civil contempt, not enforceable across state lines. Cf OJ, acquitted in criminal court, convicted in civil court, he left California, and they could do nothing but confiscate his home and all its contents, but he kept his money (and went to jail only because his ‘friends’ tried to retrieve his sports trophies, otherwise, he’d still be free and rich).

        Before Clinton, in West Virginia and Arkansas, the guideline was more than 100% of the father’s take-home, so he’d leave the state and the governor could collect AFDC (some of which was squandered on the single mum, but most went to the state government). If someone was an idiot and stayed in the state, he would be jailed in a hell-hole for a few weeks, then his arrears would be partly forgiven and partly rescheduled, and he’d be told, if he were still in the state at the end of the month, he’d go back to jail. So he left.

        Clinton made it a federal felony to cross state lines when in arrears, and made it illegal for divorce judges to forgive or reschedule one penny. Bush, jr hated everything Clinton did, and said Clinton had been far too lenient on divorced fathers. Obama agreed with Clinton and Bush. I’m not Right or Left, I’m against all the SOBs. (I like Sanders, but the DNC made sure he never had a chance; if voting could make a difference, it would be illegal.)

        I was told, since my income was $3,000 a month, I had to buy all my own food with the money I had after they garnished the $2,500 I was ordered to pay my ex. My take-home was $2,000, so I wouldn’t have much left for food, which was the idea. My lawyer said to settle my affairs, I was going to jail for life, and it would be a very short sentence. (No need for a will, since I wouldn’t have anything to leave anyone.)

      • Michael – I paid child support for twenty years for a kid I was not allowed to raise, and who, in fact, was taught to hold me in contempt.

        While the article I linked is from a UK site, it is about American history and quite well referenced. Here’s one from the US. It starts in 1910 rather than earlier – but that’s still before women’s suffrage (which was my point.)

        More importantly, it is very much a right wing ideal that a woman is incapable of supporting herself and unable to understand the consequences of sex; therefore a male must be held accountable should she get pregnant. It’s the same kind of reasoning that makes it illegal to have sex with a child – a child cannot give informed consent.

        *Real* feminists reject that line of thinking altogether.

        “If a woman makes a unilateral decision to bring pregnancy to term, and the biological father does not, and cannot, share in this decision, he should not be liable for 21 years of support… autonomous women making independent decisions about their lives should not expect men to finance their choice.”

        Karen DeCrow

      • Michael,

        Okay, I see. Fair enough. I’ll not think of you as “Left” then. And thanks for teaching me a few things.

      • CH,

        A *real* rightwinger–if we’re going to talk about *real* feminists–would say that *because* women cannot be responsible and a man must be for her, then *he* has authority–NOT her. For most of the 1800s, children belonged to their father because he was financially responsible for them. (And women didn’t leave their husbands as much because they couldn’t take the children away.)

        The faux rightwingers, i.e. “traditional conservatives,” are in league with your faux feminists in simply soaking men while denying them rights to their own children. Men have little in the way of choices and rights when it comes to their children but they get to enjoy most of the burdens.

        Only the cowards on the right believe fathers should be saddled with all the financial responsibility and none of the rights or authority. Those of my kind know that responsibility and authority are inseparable if we want a healthy and just society.

      • And most importantly you’ve created a straw man. I was not talking about the origin of the concept of child support. For fuck’s sake. It’s come a long way since 1910. You may have noticed it bears no resemblance? Are you fucking kidding me?

        No. I know you’re serious. I know you.

      • Jack –

        A straw man? Seriously? Okay, which of my points about your beliefs concerning male-female roles were wrong? As usual, you don’t bother to think them through to their logical conclusions.

        While many of us have progressed since 1910 – conservatives have not. You evidently believe that one person can own another, that one goes all the way back to 1864.

      • “You must be aware that the monstrous family law system has not always been so, and that it has been created as thus by feminist academics?”

        “I was not talking about the origin of the concept of child support.”


  • I, for one, would like to welcome our new alien overlords and invite them to vote their conscience.

  • It’s hard to believe this isn’t all planned, or at least accounted for. People have paid billions for their candidate to keep things going. They aren’t going to allow some kook to screw it up. If Trump really is a wild card, won’t he meet with some unfortunate accident, get caught eating a baby, be convicted of something, etc? The whole point of scaring us into the terrible Hillary is to give her legitimacy. See? All the chumps voted for her.

  • alex_the_tired
    July 28, 2016 4:49 PM

    Two things.

    1. As for Jill Stein. Isn’t she an anti-vaxxer/pro-homeopathy adherent? Sorry, we don’t need cloudcuckooland stuff. We need leaders who understand that science and facts are better than feels and anecdotes for determining public policy.

    2. HRC is leftist. I know that one has gotten a lot of mileage, but what EXACTLY has she ACTUALLY DONE that had an improvement for a left-leaning cause? I think she talks a very good game of sounding like she’s leftist, but then she’s off supporting wars that weren’t necessary and political policies that screw over the middle class.

    • > Isn’t she an anti-vaxxer/pro-homeopathy adherent?

      Can you document that? I’ve seen an article or two that severely misrepresents what she actually said about vaccination. If she’s truly on the anti-vaxxer bandwagon, I’ll go back to writing in Bernie or my humble self.

      I’ve got no problems with homeopathy. I use glucosamine, medical marijuana, and biotin myself and have had great results – even though the FDA has not verified their claims.

      • «Can you document that? I’ve seen an article or two that severely misrepresents what she actually said about vaccination.»Signature «monomach»’s reply on this Jill 2016 covers the areas that alex_the_tired takes up. It would seem that the US Green Party is moving away from the support for specific «non-traditional» therapies found in the party platform from 2014 ; Dr Stein’s reply to a query on vaccinations is worth quoting :

        « I don’t know if we have an “official” stance, but I can tell you my personal stance at this point. According to the most recent review of vaccination policies across the globe, mandatory vaccination that doesn’t allow for medical exemptions is practically unheard of. In most countries, people trust their regulatory agencies and have very high rates of vaccination through voluntary programs. In the US, however, regulatory agencies are routinely packed with corporate lobbyists and CEOs. So the foxes are guarding the chicken coop as usual in the US. So who wouldn’t be skeptical? I think dropping vaccinations rates that can and must be fixed in order to get at the vaccination issue: the widespread distrust of the medical-indsutrial [sic !] complex.

        Vaccines in general have made a huge contribution to public health. Reducing or eliminating devastating diseases like small pox and polio. In Canada, where I happen to have some numbers, hundreds of annual death from measles and whooping cough were eliminated after vaccines were introduced. Still, vaccines should be treated like any medical procedure–each one needs to be tested and regulated by parties that do not have a financial interest in them.»

        As a colleague (different branch, Dr Stein is an internist, I a psychiatrist) I share her distrust of the medical-industrial complex. While I consider homeopathy to be a bluff, I don’t see anything in the Green Party’s position on health care issues which would prevent me from voting for them (if, indeed, I enjoyed the franchise in your country) – quite the contrary….


    • ” As for Jill Stein. Isn’t she an anti-vaxxer/pro-homeopathy adherent?”
      So what? As the U.S. President cannot set prices for gasoline, so can personal beliefs such as this (which I sincerely doubt) have absolutely no effect on the average American citizen. Smear tactics.

    • RepresentativePress
      July 30, 2016 12:20 AM
      • Thanks for the reply, all of the above – Yeah, Henri – that was one of the quotes I’d seen misinterpreted.

        These are two different issues. Can we trust science? Absolutely. Can we trust that corporations will always use good science? Absolutely not. Can we trust the government to do right by the people instead of the corporations? Do I really need to answer that one?

  • Wanna break the cycle? Approval voting would kill the lesser weevil once and for all.

    But frankly, Clinton has the most progressive domestic platform ever, and is the second least hawkish (after Obama) in 70 years. She’s got oceans of blood on her hands, but less than Kennedy, LBJ, Carter, her husband, not to mention the Bushes, Reagan, Ford, Nixon, Ike, Truman….

    She’s not good enough, but this is truly the clearest difference since at least Goldwater v Johnson, and probably since FDR. I get the “vote your conscience” thing when it’s Bush v Gore or McCain v Obama, but this really is not a normal situation.

    • That “… this really is not a normal situation” is precisely why one should vote one’s conscience. If enough people jumped on board with Stein or Johnson, the major parties would have a wake-up call. 🙂

    • «But frankly, Clinton has the most progressive domestic platform ever …» Which platform, I strongly suspect, Ms Clinton will choose to selectively ignore, when and if she finds herself ensconced in the Oval office as something other than a spectator. It might be possible to argue that the «oceans of blood»she has on her hands are smaller than those dripping from the hands of US presidents these last seven decades, but on the other hand, Ms Clinton has never occupied the office which would allow her to put her dreams into practice. Judging from both her record and her rhetoric, which in this case, unlike in the cases of, e g, the minimum wage or rights for homosexuals, do coincide, and the support she has gained from neocon stalwarts like Robert Kagan, et al, it would seem to be a gross misunderstanding to refer to her as «the second least hawkish (after Obama)» ; she represents, rather, at least as great a danger to world peace as any of her predecessors (assuming she doesn’t suffer from a debilitating cerebral accident before the election and manages to overcome US voters’ dislike of her and therewith gets into office)….

      I’m not looking forward to 20 January 2017….


You must be logged in to post a comment.