When I lived in Washington D.C. I found it fascinating the way people designated their politics. In other words, most people tend to use an issue or set of issues to define a partisan affiliation.
Conor Friedersdorf has been laying out his anti-‘lesser of two evils’ stance for the Atlanta and the responses to him have been revealing.
Friedersdorf has argued that Obama being the lesser of two political evils is not only a false statement, but stands on the false premise that we’re really making such a choice.
His major argument is the drone killings in the Middle East perpetrated by Barack Obama and the horrible atrocities being committed as a result of this policies.
For Friedersdorf, the people who vote for Obama based on the idea that the sum-total of his policies are better than this single policy are taking an over-utilitarian view and are undervaluing the lives of innocent foreigners, in favor of the rights of gays to marry, or the rights for women to have abortions.
When you frame it that way, it certainly seems incoherent. But the left’s response to Friedersdorf is equally incoherent, and furthermore, is frighteningly revealing.
A surprising number of partisan Democrats reacted to my piece by speculating that I must be a secret Republican operative, doing the bidding of Mitt Romney and the far right wing. Others insisted that my motive was Web traffic or flaunting my moral rectitude. It is one thing to argue that Obama is worth supporting despite his shortcomings. Given the gravity of those shortcomings, it is quite another to presume that anyone who disagrees must have clandestine motives. The inability to imagine non-cynical reasons for opposing Obama is itself a sad commentary on how little these issues mean to some of the president’s most zealous partisan supporters.
In other words, you can’t condemn the president for something he’s doing without being a conservative because no one who isn’t a conservative or Republican would ever dare slander the President in this way.
This, of course, simply isn’t true. There are plenty of reasons to assert President Obama has come up short as the supreme administrator of this country.
Obama is a flawed candidate because he’s a policy-maker. Mitt Romney is a flawed candidate because he’s a flawed politician.
There’s a reason the libertarian party appears to be making inroads in the political discussion. As Matt Ridley of the Wall Street Journal put it, “(Libertarians) don’t see why, in order to get a small-government president, they have to vote for somebody who is keen on military spending and religion; or to get a tolerant and compassionate society they have to vote for a large and intrusive state.”
What the Atlanta article was aimed at doing is undermining the incoherence of liberal bias in how they view their own party and in this case, their own candidate.
But I do think there is some credence to the idea that many people view voting as a ‘lesser of two evils’ system, it’s just that some people ignore some pretty serious evils, hold their noses and vote.
There is some rationality to it. A woman, keen on her abortive abilities, may prioritize a pro-choice candidate like Obama even if he’s killing innocent people, mostly because the drone strikes don’t affect her life.
That’s rational, even if its a moral abomination (or in this case Obamination). She’s choosing what most benefits her. Democrats might argue that Obama’s policies, on the whole, positively effect more people than they negatively affect and that the sum total of good he’s done/will do is greater than Mitt Romney’s.
In terms of quantifying such things, it’s hard to truly know the answer to that question, although Friedersdorf’s argument that drone strikes and the resulting terrors should be enough not to vote for Obama is truly compelling.
But make no mistake, there is fracture among Democrats and Republicans right now about a lot of issues. The fact that some in the Tea Party hold morally repugnant viewpoints has helped galvanize the left against the GOP, and with good cause.
On the other hand, there are plenty of moderate Democrats who cringe at the idea of trillions in deficit spending and debt, who don’t appreciate their party has been hijacked by people who protest in foam vagina suits and spend more time talking about abortive rights than getting people back to work.
Throughout history, we’ve seen changes in the things each party stands for. Remember, the Democrats were the party of slave-owners and succession.
A multi-party system may be too drastic a change and we’ve seen the failures of third party candidates in the past. If that trend holds, it seems increasingly likely that both the Democrat and Republican parties will have to reassess their beliefs in order to grow with the changing feelings of a population who has grown weary of burgeoning ideological divides and shrinking accomplishments from the government sector.