This is NOT about choosing the lesser of two evils – VOTE

  • Published on October 1st, 2012

It's not about the lesser of two evils - it's about choosing the way forwardI hear a lot of people whine about Obama. They say he’s not doing enough. In a perfect world he’d ban GMOs, forbid the Keystone XL pipeline, and never allow an innocent civilian be killed, anywhere in the world.

And a pony.

But this is the real world, and we DO face a stark choice between Obama – who must accommodate big oil and the big Wall Street banks – and Mitt Romney, who is a wholly owned subsidiary of big oil and the Wall Street banks.

At TomDispatch, Rebecca Solnit has written a brilliant take-down of this most insidious of cop-outs, which she calls “Left-wing vote suppression”. Here’s how she takes a sledgehammer to the “Lesser of two evils” argument:

O rancid sector of the far left, please stop your grousing! Compared to you, Eeyore sounds like a Teletubby. If I gave you a pony, you would not only be furious that not everyone has a pony, but you would pick on the pony for not being radical enough until it wept big, sad, hot pony tears.

[“The lesser of two evils”] is not an analysis or an insight; it is a cliché, and a very tired one, and it often comes in the same package as the Rebecca Solnit demolishes the argument for "lesser of two evils"insistence that there is no difference between the candidates. You can reframe it, however, by saying: we get a choice, and not choosing at all can be tantamount in its consequences to choosing the greater of two evils.

But having marriage rights or discrimination protection or access to health care is not the lesser of two evils. If I vote for a Democrat, I do so in the hopes that fewer people will suffer, not in the belief that that option will eliminate suffering or bring us to anywhere near my goals or represent my values perfectly. Yet people are willing to use this “evils” slogan to wrap up all the infinite complexity of the fate of the Earth and everything living on it and throw it away.

I don’t love electoral politics, particularly the national variety. I generally find such elections depressing and look for real hope to the people-powered movements around the globe and subtler social and imaginative shifts toward more compassion and more creativity. Still, every four years we are asked if we want to have our foot trod upon or sawed off at the ankle without anesthetic. The usual reply on the left is that there’s no difference between the two experiences and they prefer that Che Guevara give them a spa pedicure. Now, the Che pedicure is not actually one of the available options, though surely in heaven we will all have our toenails painted camo green by El Jefe.

Before that transpires, there’s something to be said for actually examining the differences. In some cases not choosing the trod foot may bring us all closer to that unbearable amputation. Or maybe it’s that the people in question won’t be the ones to suffer, because their finances, health care, educational access, and so forth are not at stake.

An undocumented immigrant writes me, “The Democratic Party is not our friend: it is the only party we can negotiate with.” Or as a Nevada activist friend put it, “Oh my God, go be sanctimonious in California and don’t vote or whatever, but those bitching radicals are basically suppressing the vote in states where it matters.”

Who you vote for matters. Think of Iraq, New Orleans, and the Wall Street meltdown, and then tell me the country would have been no better off under Gore than Bush. Think of rights for women, and gays, and the rest of us. Think of climate change. Think of clean energy.

Then think of utterly unleashed tar sands and fracking and coal and yes, even GMOs. And tell me that it’s not worth it to have even a partial leash on those horrors.

Go, read Solnit’s whole piece at Tom Dispatch. Then register. And vote. Because  it makes a difference.

Like what you’re reading? Share it on your wall to spread the word, tweet it, and like us on Facebook for more updates!

About Rebeccas Solnit: As in 2004 and 2008, Rebecca Solnit and her blue-state henchwomen and men will probably invade northern Nevada on election week to swing with one of the most swinging states in the union. She is, however, much more excited about’s anti-oil-company campaign and the ten thousand faces of Occupy now changing the world. Also, she wrote some books.

(Vote grafitti image AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by karlo)

About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.
  • Pingback: Russell Brand Wants Revolution (VIDEO) | PlanetSave()

  • It is a shame that someone claiming in their headline to promote voting, interjects their own personal bias as a basis for voting. Then there are the other party followers who comment in this section, through either their niavete or having no idea about the history of the political parties and the platform they promote. A question that stands out so blatantly is why we even bother to include political parties in elections, when we can hear directly from the candidates. Certainly it is our decision to vote intelligently and impartially for one candidate or the other. All I can ask of anyone is to take your political blinders off, look at the pros and cons of each candidate and attempt to make a educated decision as you cast your vote. My caution is that you do not permit yourself to be influenced by either the media or be swayed by a organization attempting to fill your head with confusing “facts”! Let’s change all that!! HOW?? Simple require, “Truth in Politics”. Let’s pass an amendment that requires that all political advertising and legislators to speak only the truth to the public. Haven’t we been lied to enough? Consider the fact, that the public has the lowest level of confidence rating of Congress ever! So why do we reelect them? It is the political parties who have their tentacles and hooks into what perhaps were good people,! We need to free us all from the chains and misled influence that political parties hold over the candidates themselves!!

  • Wilson

    So vote for the lesser of two evils then…. K. Weak thesis if you ask me.

  • Paul

    ACTA, TPP, ICE, TSA, Drone strikes, following the Bush timetables on Iraq and Afghanistan, continuing the drug war, not stepping out against the death penalty, prosecuting whistle blowers, Patriot Act, NDAA, warrantless spying on citizens, QE3 without objection, Guantanamo… these are hard to ignore.

    • Jeremy Bloom

      Except that the other guy would do all that, plus lots more bad stuff.
      So why not focus on the GOOD things that Obama HAS managed to get through, despite the massive pushback from the right? And focus on how many more good things we can get done in the next four years – even if it’s not EVERYTHING we’d like in a perfect world, it sure beats getting NOTHING we like.

      • Wilson

        So basically you’ve nullified your entire point with a cop-out argument of your own. The fact is, there is basically no difference in agenda. This election is just a referendum on a man. What GOOD has Obama done? And remember that Romney would actually fire Bernanke and possibly reinstate payroll tax cuts, two things that would help more than the current leader. But it’s all a sideshow and voting is clearly a waste of time and energy and ultimately it gives the establishment a reason to continue selling themselves to us. We are down to around fifty percent of the population voting. Maybe once we get to 25 the elites wouldn’t have such access to the reins. Your argument is the same one every four years. Both parties are owned and so are you.

        • ONE PARTY HAS A HISTORY OF GOOD RESULTS & CAN BE REFORMED , THE OTHER (LETS CALL THEM THE T PARTY) Sucks.. Not Helping Advance The Democratic Party Gives Power To The Real Demons… Guys Like You Enable Guys Like Bush…