The Lesser Evil? Seriously?

If your only 2 choices for president of the USA were handsome Jeffrey Dahmer, who tortured, killed, and ate 17 boys (between 1978 and 1991), or his (hypothetical) handsome twin brother, Timothy Dahmer, who tortured, killed, and ate only 5 boys, and who had actually been known to help boys from time to time, for whom would you vote?

What if we had a third choice, their ugly older brother, Ron Dahmer, who was a little bit crazy and had been a strong Reagan supporter back in the day, but who was strongly opposed to torturing, killing, and eating boys and who had never done so? Would you vote for Ron, knowing from statistically conclusive polls that almost everybody would be voting for one or the other of the handsome Dahmer twins? Or would you be doing your best to make sure that at least we didn't get stuck with the worst of the Dahmers?

Usually when I post something on my blog, I feel pretty sure about the inherent logical self-evident "alien sociologist" objectivity of what I'm writing. But this time, I'm writing about how confused I am.

Chris Hedges, author and foreign war correspondent, is a hero to me. He was recently the lead plaintiff in a suit against the government regarding the military detention law included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed by Obama on New Year's Eve, 2011, that allows the government to charge Americans as terrorists, arrest them, and hold them indefinitely without a trial "until hostilities cease." Perhaps for 20 years in some dank offshore prison, even Gitmo. Chris Hedges knew that he and his supporters were likely to lose the lawsuit, but his patriotism and love of liberty impelled him to try. Thanks to a brave district court judge in New York, Katherine Forrest, who ruled it unconstitutional, Hedges won. So at least for now, the government has been barred from enforcing the military detention law, although Forrest's judgement will probably be appealed. And this brilliant, brave man, Chris Hedges, says that we should vote for a third-party candidate. 

When a man this great, a man whose every word I have always (well, almost always) agreed with, says, "Go ahead and vote this November. But don’t waste any more time or energy on the presidential election than it takes to get to your polling station and pull a lever for a third-party candidate--just enough to register your obstruction and defiance," what am I supposed to do? 

The thing that makes me feel justified in my predictable stance--I believe we all should vote for Obama--is that so very many of our fellow citizens are going to vote for Romney. In a democracy, you have to accept the will of the majority, right? Even if you think their ideas and plans are stupid. If the election were held today, perhaps a majority, or at least a very large percentage of voters, would chose Romney. We're stuck with these Romney voters. We can't just wish them away. Just because we want a more ideal government, one that doesn't borrow money from China to fight fake wars while our schools and highways crumble, one that doesn't bail out criminal banking organizations while hardworking Americans lose their homes and go without health care, doesn't mean we can have one. As long as the peasants (which includes upper-middle-class educated Americans as well as trailer trash and hillbillies) keep voting Republican, we are doomed to the status quo, which any thinking person knows is unsustainable. 

Like Hedges says, we have been colonized. WE ARE COLONIZED. When Americans vote for Romney, they'll be voting for a more oppressive, more total colonization. They'll be voting for an extension of Bush's presidency, for a proxy McCain/Palin presidency. So, in the real world, since so many of our fellow citizens will freely go to the polls this November and freely choose to turn UP the volume on the dictatorship and increase the level of our oppression, doesn't it somehow justify my stance, that we should do the only thing that we can do to grab onto their arms and try to hold them back as they turn up the volume? The louder the volume, the more it hurts! It would seem that we don't have the luxury of voting for a more perfect candidate, since in our particular democracy, which includes so many ignorant, provincial, scared, simpleminded people, we can't HAVE a more perfect candidate. 

AND YET, if I vote for Obama, I'm going against the will of my dear Chris Hedges! Plus, I am voting for evil. Obama has licensed 4 new nuclear power plants in the South, the first president to allow new nuclear plant construction since the 1970's! How many Chernobyls and Fukushimas here in America will be acceptable to Obama? One a decade? Two? He quadrupled Bush's drone strikes and doubled the size of our fake war in Afghanistan! He has strengthened the anti-Constitution Patriot Act! I am really confused! Hedges makes it sound so easy and so right to register our protest by simply pulling the lever for a third-party candidate. But basic math, simple real-world thinking and real-world statistics, dictate that if we vote third party or don't vote, Romney will be our next president. 

When you let a retarded child into your antique shop full of ancient Ming Dynasty vases, even for only 4 minutes or possibly for 8 minutes, is that a prudent and patriotic thing to do? Does allowing bad guys to break things valuable and precious to us really help our cause in the long run? Do we really need to let criminals take our money and break our stuff before we can finally get mad enough to start fighting to take our country back? Is allowing an invisible committee of global billionaires to rape us (even harder than they already are) for the next 4 or 8 years what a smart revolutionary would do? I honestly don't know, but it sounds somewhat illogical to me.

My friend Tony has been kind and clear, and yet persuasive, in arguing that after the failure of the Obama administration to deliver "change we can believe in," and after his proving to us that, actually, "NO, we can't," should we finally be done voting for evil, even if it's the lesser evil? Tony has made such a wonderful case for not voting for evil ever again. For example, he sent me this chart:

So I am writing to you, my loyal readers and to anyone you forward this to. I hope you will help me make sense of the quandary I'm in.

Before you render your judgment, I remind you to keep in mind that we're a democracy, not some utopia or even potential utopia that can be just the way Ron Paul supporters want it to be. In the real world, 57% of all white male Amerikan voters recently chose to give the keys to our nuclear arsenal to insane McCain and stupid Palin. Since our fellow citizens are choosing to ratchet UP dictatorship, that is the will of our democracy! Since none of us seem to have the guts, at least at this point in time, for real revolution, or for risking many years in prison like Chris Hedges just did in fighting the military detention law (that damned terrorist!), it would seem that in accord with our being democracy, we should make compromises that are doable and workable and realistic. 

Even if half of our voters are dumbasses, who would vote for a lifelong business failure, war dodger, recently reformed alcoholic (who had been behind bars 3 times for drunk driving), simpleminded inarticulate fundamentalist Christian guy (Bush Jr.), we either have to accept their will or we must impose some kind of dictatorship on them, which would be counterproductive for those of us who value democracy. More recently, these same dumbasses voted for for a guy who graduated 894th out of 899 at Annapolis, crashed 4 American airplanes, was a liability, not a hero, in Vietnam, and who was a prominent member of the Keating Five, a gang that cost American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars during the Savings and Loan Scandal. This man bragged about supporting 95 percent of Bush's policies (which brought our great country to its knees), and he joked about "bomb, bomb, bombing Iran" (sung to the tune of a Beach Boys song). These fools voted for McCain even though that meant they were voting for greater subjugation from nameless, faceless billionaires, and that their votes might even translate into the deeds to their own homes being on the line, and even, for many of them, their own sons' very lives on the line!

Just think about that last point. Remember, we are not living in some perfect experiment that has suddenly gone awry. We are living in Amerika, a land where a large percentage of the people are ignorant peasants who believe the creator of the universe wrote the Bible, who hate gays, who want to control what people do in their bedrooms, who don't mind blowing up people in foreign countries that have oil, and who want to prevent women from terminating unwanted pregnancies. They want to perpetuate our barbaric health care situation, that puts us 34th in infant mortality statistics, right below Cuba and Cyprus! They call the successful health care systems of Germany, France, and Taiwan socialism. But look at where those countries appear on this list! And look at the CIA list right next to it, where we appear 39th.

There's one more aspect to my voting problem that I need to mention, and I think it will be very useful for you to consider. If you don't have children, it might not come naturally to you to think about this issue like I do. I think that in America, there are two very basic tiers of reality: for adults, there is the adult "real world," and for children there is the somewhat ideal world of childhood. Adults here have a pretty good life relative to most people in the world, but there are serious difficulties we face--a scary economy, high divorce rates, health care worries, mortgage payments, medical bills, etc. But children here, especially comfortably middle- and upper-middle-class children, have amazing, almost magically charmed lives. And regardless of how fkd up the world actually is, their lives are almost identical to lives they would live in a perfect world! They are insulated from pain, danger, and disease. Their lives are enriched with cultural experiences, high tech learning and playing devices, good food, and travel. (My children have travelled overseas many times. They get to sail around in the San Francisco Bay on my brother's new 45' sailboat (2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms), and they've had thousand-dollar Mac laptops since they could walk. And they get all this while being almost completely insulated from political guilt and political worry and even from political danger.) In many poor and unstable countries children don't have the luxury of living in a separate tier of reality, because they do have to step over dead bodies in the street, they do have to experience bomb blasts in the marketplace, and they do have to watch their mother shrieking in agony when her husband has been taken away by the authorities to be tortured.

So, when I vote for Obama, I'm prolonging, measurably prolonging, the insulation that my children enjoy from the harsh reality of life on this planet, and allowing them the best odds possible to better themselves, to strengthen themselves, to remain idealistic, and to keep believing in the possibility of a better world. I saw my daughter's transcript yesterday, and she's number 1 out of all 321 people in her 7th grade class. My son was number 1 in his high school, and now he goes to UC Berkeley and is doing very well there and in his side business of designing local advertising. He's a second-degree black belt while my daughter will soon be testing for her provisional black belt. They speak Chinese. They're the kind of people who will help build a good future. And I was able to nurture their lives and their personalities free from backpacks blowing up in cafes and free from radiation falling on their skin. 

My revolutionary act of not voting for Obama and instead voting for Ron Paul or whoever the Green Party candidate turns out to be (they're considering Roseanne Barr!), in the real world, would narrow their opportunities, because that's what happens when a BLATANT tool of corporations such as Bush, McCain, or Romney comes to power. Admittedly it's almost as bad under Obama, but it's certainly not AS bad. Obama stopped the Keystone Pipeline from traversing the Oglala Aquifer, prevented the dumping of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, allowed 26-year-olds to stay on their parents' medical policies, saved the American auto industry, and much more. Obama might be a selfish egotist, but some of his actions indicate that he has a heart. Romney's history and his demeanor indicate that he might actually be an automaton.

What gain will my children obtain if I allow their buffer zone to be diminished? If all I get out of voting for a third party is to feel good about myself--"Jeff is such a smart revolutionary!"--would that be worth it?

Please respond to this post here by clicking on the "Comments" link at the bottom of this post. Anonymous responses are fine and will ensure that you don't end up on the no-fly list.


  1. One of your initial premises here is that Obama is evil--just the lesser evil. I submit that Obama, in the face of stifling congressional opposition, has made many improvements, is on the correct side of women's health and gay rights issues. I would like to give him a second term with a cooperative congress and heavy pressure from his constituency in the areas where he has gotten it wrong.

  2. Vote for Obama and prolong your children's insulation from suffering. Humans procrastinate for a good reason. When we wait until we are forced into action, we act with great resolve and urgency. Quality of life in America is still very high. The threat isn't nearly tangible enough to get us off of our couches, but we will rise up when the time is right - we always have!

  3. Since Obama has made it possible for my boyfriend to have health insurance and hasn't gotten rid of Social Security, Medicare, etc, I think he still has enough good to warrant voting for him instead of a third candidate, even though I would be holding my nose. It's survival right now. The others would gut what's left of the Roosevelt years. Randi Rhodes has a pretty good list of things that Obama did right; so, the list that you are showing annoys me and breaks my heart; but, it's a list that looks like it was devised to make Ron Paul look good. Let's be fair; that's what it is. Like the film I just watched "With God on Our Side," is a shameless Siren song to evangelicals to get them to vote Republican. It's all "point of view" and how it's being packaged and sold here in the good old USA. Ack! But, consciousness is percolating and there is more to hope for now regarding the masses than there was before - people are becoming aware that we are owned by the one percent. Before, they didn't even know that.

  4. Maybe national politics isn't ultimately as important as local politics anyway. I'm frustrated too. I wouldn't blame anyone for voting third party--though Ron Paul wouldn't be my choice. I'll probably vote for Obama again. I think he is a really good politician and smart as hell. But I also think the whole Pepsi/Coke political system is messed up. Part of me feels like Romney and Obama aren't that different. I'm really sorry we haven't seem some radical changes toward the way we look at our environment and I'm really sorry the congress hasn't made the people who have a lot to spare, spare some of it.

  5. Ron Paul? I can't get past this about him: He talks a good game of personal freedom and having government stay out of people's personal and private lives, except when it comes to unwanted pregnancies. Not my guy.

    Obama? I think he's the most talented politician and president since Carter. I like him. I can't understand why he doesn't just talk directly to "us," the majority that elected him. Why he doesn't do the things he indicated he was in favor of doing?

    I, like you, am confused, Jeff - except on Romney. Don't want him at all.

  6. Same "anonymous" as previous post. I pushed "publish" too fast. Obama is my favorite president since Carter -- but I don't think Carter was the most talented politician or president. I liked Carter. I like Obama. Sometimes I have to wonder if Obama doesn't know a whole lot of stuff that isn't obvious to "outsiders" like me. I wonder if the CIA didn't threaten him on Day One: 'Play our game or we take you out!' I think he would win easily if he were to go with his personal instincts. It frustrates and confuses me that he appears to not be doing that. Bottom line still the same: I'm confused.

  7. Anonymous 5th & 6th comment: I really agree with you about him not speaking to "us" and not telling us what he really knows, and I'm always wondering if it's just like you say--the CIA told him to watch his P's and Q's or they'd blow up his whole family and pin it on a terrorist.

    I read both of his books cover to cover, so I know that he knows everything that we know. And I know that he cares. He could be a rich senator living in almost total safety, but he risks his life daily to be president, a job statistically more dangerous than it was to be in the infantry in Vietnam.

    I even wrote a an outline for a screenplay that I think would be awesome. Will Smith could play him. He escapes from the White House and becomes a black street hustler (black do-rag, bling, maybe a beard), and he posts videos from his iPhone to YouTube telling us what's really up. Nobody can find him because "all blacks look alike." Rihanna is the hooker with a heart of gold who saves his ass a couple of times (car chases). It's got possibilities! And by making the movie, you could have "Obama" actually telling the amazing radical truths that he probably knows as well as we do. It's not depressing, it's liberating, to be lifted from ignorance!

    Thanks again, man!


  8. Paulette, I totally agree with you that the chart I use is biased towards Ron Paul. I just like it because it's so clear on some major issues, especially THE major issue, our fake wars, our immoral occupations of Middle Eastern countries and drone strikes all over the place. Some of Obama's speeches about Afghanistan have sounded exactly like they were written by Cheney. I'm aware of the good things Obama has done and the good things he's tried to do.

  9. I can't get past the fact that Ron Paul was a Reagan supporter. I knew that Reagan was a nightmare the first time I saw him debate Carter, almost instantly. But one thing that you can say about Ron Paul is that of the 3 candidates, only he does NOT work for the 1 percent. Romney will work HARDER for them, but Obama is their dream man because HE can do their bidding and we progressives just lie there and take it.

  10. Hi Jeff:

    I thought that after your disastrous choice of Ralph Nader (remember, that's when we worked together...) that you learned that the idea of voting for someone without a chance in hell of winning will just give away the election to the WRONG guy. NEVER consider voting for Romney, or any of the current bunch of greedy, stupid, anti-intellectual "repuglicans". And, don't throw your vote away on a 3rd, 4th, 5th party candidate this late in the game when there is no viable 3rd party candidate. I wish there was, but there isn't... You're too smart for that, regardless of what your "mentor" may think...

    Best wishes.


  11. By voting for a third candidate in this election, you will be putting another George Bush at the wheel again. Would you really vote for someone that is against abortion? Think about your daughter and the alternatives. I don't agree with Obama on everything either. But I agree with him on many things that count. I didn't agree with Carter and Kennedy on everything. I really think it will be worse if Romney is elected.

  12. Marilyn,

    I think it would be far worse under Romney, too!

    > Would you really vote for someone that is against abortion?

    I don't see how I could possibly vote for Ron Paul. His son Rand is really hard-core Libertarian/Republican and even SCARIER than Paul. I saw Ron Paul on a video saying he doesn't believe in evolution . . .

    But let me ask you: would you vote for a person who kills people by the tens of thousands for oil companies?

    Most of the people who commented on this post on my blog site are saying that they too are confused. We are in such a weird situation. And if you study the actual reality at Fukushima TODAY
    you will see that there is a lot more drama in store for all of us! Just listen to the first 12 minutes and you'll be amazed! The rest of this video, an older speech, is very interesting as well. There are no graphics in this video. It's just sound, so you can do other stuff while you're listening to it.

    In my essay, I come out and say I think we should vote for Obama (if you got that far). But it is damned hard for me this time, and this time I respect the 3rd party voters, while 4 years ago I thought they were crazy and/or stupid. I mean, if you could hear a guy molesting children just down the street, would you vote for him? These guys are sinners. We're voting for Coke vs. Pepsi, like one of the commenters wrote, and both will give you cavities and make you obese. Why not choose orange juice just watch calmly while the world burns down? My answer to that is that I'm chicken, and that things have always been very, very bad for most humans, and if I happen to be living in a little window of time where many of us in this large geographical area called Amerika are comfortable, maybe I should just count my blessings.

  13. Rob,

    See my response, above, to Marilyn. I don't think I could bring myself to vote for Romney.

    What we're doing by voting for Obama is procrastinating in starting our revolution. Procrastinating can be good. The outcome of the Cold War ROCKS compared to what it could have been (us living in caves and coughing our lungs out).

  14. Admirable of you to share your deliberations. The first responding comment (anonymous) is something I could have written and solidly endorse. I don't go along with Hedges quite as much as you--I don't like Hedges' facile harshness (practically a cottage industry) against Obama.

    Right now I'm suffering (I'll bet Obama is, too) over an old man in Syria with a bullet hole in his head and a five-year-old girl with a hole in her chest. Whatever O. does in the face of this massacre, I'm glad he's the one in the WH, weighing the trap of taking action, just one of thousands of agonizing decisions--see how McCain and Romney are using the situation. "Bomb, bomb, bomb" is so easy.

    Bottom line: I think you're rough on him.

  15. Blog is too long, seems rambling, or maybe I'm reading it too late at night. I read, then skimmed, then gave up. Am I supposed to vote for Ron Paul because he's not evil at all?

    You could have used your blog time to show that vulture capitalists like Romney find ways to pay themselves for restructuring a company after they've bought it. They somehow manage to treat their salaries as dividends so they can pay a lower interest rate. They cash out the pension fund or maybe just cancel it, so that a a federal pension insurance fund (like the FDIC) has to take over the workers' pensions. I need to go back to a particular New Yorker article and review these complexities. Leveraged buyouts do not result in a major net loss of jobs, but the capitalists know how to game the government and make various profits in addition to earnings from selling the restrctured company to investors.

    I wish Obama would listen to Robert Reich and Tom Friedman. I wish they were his only campaign consultants.

  16. I'm voting for Obama. The point of my article was that it is getting harder and harder to vote for evil, even it it's a lesser evil.

    I just wrote to a Ron Paul supporter a few minutes ago: "Yeah, I didn't make a very good case for Obama. But I'm glad you read it. I made some very good points, e.g., that letting somebody smash up the precious items in your store for no gain to yourself is irrational. If there is no revolution in the making, by voting your conscience [voting for Ron Paul] you're just letting the bad guys pound your face in for nothing. Since, as you say, things won't change much no matter which corporate-sponsored candidate wins, we can start fomenting our revolution now, and vote third party 4 years from now, or push Obama or Romney out of office early and THEN install Ron Paul or whoever. But read my lips: THERE IS NO REVOLUTION BUILDING YET, so what do we get by allowing the more dangerous, more warlike, less environmentally conscious candidate to drive the bus that we're riding in? That seems crazy to me. Unless you like pain."

  17. Jeff, you ignorant slut: don't you realize that the only way voting for a third party makes any sense at all is if there is enough groundswell to make electing a third party candidate a real possibility? Get your minions organized or else vote defensively, those are your choices. Sad, but true. And don't feel too bad when you lose - this is a seriously flawed and unfair system that has been repeatedly modified over time (can you say "hanging chad"?) to protect the colony of thieves and liars that now populate Washington DC. If you think a poor wood-splitter from Illinois can still be elected in this country without being in some corporate pocket, you're just as "stupit" as the trailer trash you mock.

    Live long and prosper, you lovable knucklehead.

  18. Mickey,

    Yours is my favorite comment to this post. Nobody has ever called me an ignorant slut before! :)

    Anyway, the post right above yours answered your comment before you even made it. I'm voting for Obama. We're stuck with the Americans we have, and with these people (57 % of white men voted McCain/Palin), we'll be LUCKY to have Obama president again.