In Pace Requiescat: Reject Both Evils

In response to this post at The Art of the Possible:

People persist in acting as through voting were a binary system: if you don’t support/vote for Candidate A, that’s supporting/voting for Candidate B! Not voting for McCain means you support Obama! Rabble rabble rabble! Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb!

The “you’re with us or you’re against us” mentality is not only perniciously effective, it’s the only thing keeping the Democrats and Republican parties alive. At this point, I suspect the only reason most voters support one or the other isn’t because their party is the best fit for their preferences, but because they feel they have no other options — and they hate the other side more than they hate the one they’re on. If they don’t support the party, the other guys will win, and we can’t have that!

As you may have guessed, I won’t be voting this election. I cannot support either of the two main candidates, don’t see any viable alternatives for which I could cast a symbolic or “message” vote, and “none of the above” isn’t currently an option.

It would be nice if there were some way for principled nonvoters to indicate their existence. It would also be nice to be able to signal that none of the candidates are suitable.

This is a point that I think needs to be addressed more. It is reasonable to support the candidate that you feel is best qualified even if you’re not thrilled about them, limiting the amount of damage the election can do. But if none of the candidates meet even minimal standards of acceptability, the only hope lies in opposing the system — participation brings no benefits. If you always choose the lesser evil of two presented to you, you can be induced to choose any evil, simply by having it compared to an even worse alternative. At some point, you have to refuse to choose one of the courses you’re given and reject both, or slide forever downward into Hell.

I expect Obama will win. I don’t credit those who say he’ll bring immediate Doomsday, or even those who think he heralds a slow and steady decline. But I see it only as the lesser evil.

My ass has blisters from the slide…

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4 Responses to “In Pace Requiescat: Reject Both Evils”

  1. Was this just for the presidential choice, or did you not vote on reps, state senators, judges, propositions, etc. (the whole shebang)?

  2. Judges?

    There was a time when I tried to research judges’ records and make an informed choice.

    Then as now, I came to the conclusion that I was going to be screwed over no matter what, and so the time and effort I invested in research was a complete waste.

    I usually don’t both voting for such things any longer. Even if a candidate is especially offensive, so that I might want to go out of my way to vote against them, they’re often the darlings of the local environment.

  3. I recall mtraven defending the mentality you decry a little while back. He even sometimes defends religion just to piss off sensible people (the kind who would commit a sensible murder whilst wearing sensible shoes).

    You’ve said at OB that you aren’t a libertarians (I think there’s a law that says you have to be one on the internet). How would you describe yourself politically?

  4. Z. M. Davis Says:

    “It would be nice if there were some way for principled nonvoters to indicate their existence. It would also be nice to be able to signal that none of the candidates are suitable.”

    I didn’t mark a choice for any office, but I did vote on the some of the initiatives. Arguably this does the trick, if your state has ballot measures you want to vote on.

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