“So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
One of the most predictable things about
modern American politics is the refrain about voting for the “lesser of two evils”. This is often used in attempt to cajole undecided voters about how important it is to stop “the other guy (or gal)”. If the decision were between good or evil, every moral person would choose good, but we live in a fallen world, and our only choices are between these two fallen and flawed options. Once again if you put a gun to the head of the moral person1, they would accept that voting for the lesser evil is better than for the greater evil. Even the most moral will concede that their can be a strategic reason for voting for the lesser evil.
However I think that there is a flaw in that thinking. To speak about voting for the “greater” evil is to considered to be a sociopath, or even worse, a collapsitarian. However, I think there is more to be said to argue for the greater evil than mere love of chaos, and may well be a better strategy.
The Methods of Evil
Now I might be waxing too religious here, please bear with me, I’ll attempt to make this as generic as possible. Outright evil is something that humans are clearly able to discern and reject. Take even some of the basest of humans, and you will get them to concede that cold blooded murder is wrong. It was not rape and murder that the Devil attempted to tempt Christ with. Whether you call it the Devil, or the inherent corruptibility of man, those who seek out to do evil understand that they must do so by degrees. This is why murder is justified by things like revenge, national pride and dehumanizing those murdered, or why slavery is justified as Christianizing the savage, civilizing, or “National Service”.
In his book Strategy2, Lawrence Freedman explains that there is a classical dichotomy in Strategy, presented by Homer as the dichotomy between Achilles (in The Illiad) and Odysseus (in The Odyssey). Achilles represented the brawn and might. A strategy that wins on merits of it’s strength. Odysseus represents the trickster, who wins through guile and lies. It is not through the might of Achilles that Troy falls, but by the designs of Odysseus. Likewise, we may stand a better chance, strategically, confronting evil outright, than letting it slip past our gates.
A Concrete Example
Like a lot of my bad and not well thought out ideas, this one came from thinking about a discussion on this very board. The discussion was about gun control, and how Trump’s record on gun control has been. I had posited that the actions of the ATF has shown that Trump was either impotent or complicit/uncaring in the gun control moves by the federal bureaucracy. Our esteemed thinker, Q, pointed out that Trump knows he doesn’t need to care, after all who are gun rights supporters going to vote for? Trump or Biden with his preselected gun control Czar Beto? Well for the gun rights single issue voter, voting for Biden is probably the better option. Biden will staunchly present a stark anti-gun agenda. He will attack gun rights openly and out loud. Such an attack would surely bring together the opponents of gun control to defend them, and solidify them against any attempt to subvert those rights. Because Evil is easier to confront the more blatant it is.
The critical among you may be pointing out that I am not arguing for voting for the greater evil, but that the evil that is harder to perceive is the greater, because it is more likely to tempt the good man. And you’d be correct. The options are not between evil and slightly less evil. It is between evil outright and evil hidden. The ends are the same, the presentation is different. I’m arguing that we let our yeas be yea, and our nays be nay. Let’s not succumb to evil because it is cleverly dressed up.
1. Excepting those “Pull the Trigger” absolutists. Damn Purists.