Tuesday, December 13, 2011

There Is No Lesser _______

I'm excused this one, right? I mean, I'm not usually political all up in here. This blog tends more to the philosophical, the artistic, the sophisticated, right?

(N.B. by "philosophical/artistic/sophisticated" I mean "lazily posting links to songs I happen to enjoy".)

A friend of mine recently announced his decision to support Mitt Romney in the 2012 Republican primaries. And he phrased his decision thus: "Reluctantly, Romney 2012."


Since when do we have to be reluctant about our vote? 

I don't like this idea that I have two options. I don't like thinking that I have to choose between (gulp) two evils. Why not? Because when I vote for the lesser of two evils, in essence I'm not casting a vote for anyone. I'm casting a vote against someone. I'm saying "Okay, Candidate1 is bad, but Candidate 2 is worse. I don't want worse, I want just regular bad." The choice is not motivated by appreciation for the ostensible principles of Candidate 1. It's motivated by disapproval for Candidate 2.

And I don't think that's quite how things should work.

My reluctantly-Romney-supporting friend seems more enthusiastic about removing Mr. Obama from the White House than putting Mr. Romney in it. This is a problem, in my uninformed opinion. It's a problem philosophically, and it's a problem practically.

The philosophical problem is simple. If candidates devolve into a contest of "At least I'm not that guy", then the likelihood of actual intellectual and principial honesty decreases drastically. If voters only want reassurance that "I'm not that guy", politicians everywhere are let off the hook. They no longer have to be consistent (or have the appearance of consistency). They no longer have to be principled (or have the appearance of principle).

As for the practical problem, well, start by reading what Dave Begel has to say. Personally, I try to avoid bringing up problems unless I have a possible solution in mind. Because a problem without a solution only fosters discontent. 

If my friend's intent is to cast a vote against Mr. Obama, he's trying to solve a problem when there isn't a real solution available, in his opinion.

Don't cast a negative vote, this upcoming year. Cast a positive vote, one you can get behind. Or don't vote at all.

Long live Variety.


Ian the Pontificator said...

Astute readers might notice that I don't seem to offer a solution to the problem that I pose (the problem of negative voting attitude). Here's the solution:

Don't think there are only two parties. Find a candidate you can actually get behind. One you WANT representing you in the White House. No vote cast is a wasted vote.

Melinda Rhodebeck said...

Interesting commentary. I agree to a point. Yes, it is far, far better to find someone that you believe in to get behind. However, I can vote for someone who doesn't come as close to my beliefs as I would like because they are far better than any other choice that is out there. The only way for someone to completely match my beliefs on everything would be if I was voting for myself. So you can take a look at the people running and say that you agree more with one than the other and still be reluctant about voting for them because they don't go as far as you'd like them to.

Jon said...

I have one small criticism, which I will phrase like this:

A Statesman is You.

It's not secret that actual politicians have to make decisions where there's no clear right answer. As political entities ourselves (voters), it would be hopelessly optimistic to suggest that reality might never apply to us.

What to do about it, I'm not sure. "Don't vote at all," is a tempting conclusion, but it seems to be an abandonment of responsibility – leaving the decision up to somebody else. "Lesser of two evils" seems unfortunate. But is "Choose a good man" a practical thing? Long-term, maybe. Short-term, a vote cast for the "right man" without any prep work is a vote wasted.

Me, I've proved so far unwilling to do the prep work necessary to make a 3rd party vote a reasonable alternative... which is an indictment of me, but when you paint yourself into a corner, you're left with only so many options.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with Jon. I vote for the man or woman who best represents me unless there is a candidate whom I can help to elect.
I'm not one to say a vote doesn't matter, but in the presidential race, under the electoral College, my vote does not contribute to electing anyone. I have voted for 3rd, 4th, or 5th party candidates who better represent me in every presidential election.

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