The Lesser of Evils
First, the rhetoric. Barak Obama is a baby-killing communist. John McCain is an imperialist hypocrite.
Now, seriously, without hyperbole. When voting, in those states that will be contested, voters will feel a tug of conscience. I am not one of those partisan bloggers who will tell you that voting your conscience is a waste of a vote. Indeed, while I am a realist, I hope never to be a pragmatist. Doing the right thing is the thing to do, even when its hard. I implore all who have real values and ethics to vote for the person they want, even if that person is a third party or independent candidate. There is no greater pragmatism than supporting evil, because you want to vote for a "winner", or because you want to deny another evil.
Now, there are magnitudes of evil of course. That is our topic today. How can one compare the American holocaust of abortion to the wanton slaughter of civilians and our own military people, in a war that does nothing to protect our country, or worse yet, expanding such wars to other countries? Those are the two greatest evils represented in this election. We will call that the tier one evil. With regards to tier one, in 2005 there were 1.2 million abortions in this country. (1) Down from 1.3 million the previous year. One estimate for civilian deaths in Iraq in the first 3 years was 655,000.(2) So, we'll say it was roughly 220,000 per year. I am not a nationalist, though I do consider myself a patriot. I feel very strongly about the Constitution and our country, but I do acknowledge that our country is not always right, in its policies, especially when it deviates from its founding documents and the intentions of the founders. So, I find it a morally bankrupt position to claim that American lives are worth more than lives of non-citizens. Its also pretty gruesome to try and compare who's position will kill more people, when they are both so incredibly high. Its actually heartbreaking that these are the mainstream choices, and one of them will likely be in a position to continue or worsen such bloody policies. Now, being a student of politics, I have not been taken in by Barak Obama's hints that he wants to bring our troops home. Nor do we have any reason to believe he will be more retrained in the use of our military than previous presidents. At the same time, there is no reason to expect that a McCain administration will actually produce any movement on ending the practice of legal abortion. Six years of republican rule of the legislative and executive branches of government should show us all that Republicans are not going to rock the boat on abortion.
What tier one really comes down to is this. One can hope, though there is no guarantee, that a McCain presidency would give us more good Supreme Court justices. We know what Obama will nominate. We have come a long way on the Court, and to take a step back would be tragic. If current trends hold up, and the Congress is a larger Democrat majority after November than it is now, Obama could get anyone confirmed. For McCain it would be a fight, but there would at least be hope. On the other hand, if Obama is the president, and the Democrats expand their majorities in the legislature, not only do we lose ground on the Court, but any military adventurism or other terrible foreign policy actions Obama wishes to take, are likely to be allowed, just as the Republican congress abdicated its responsibility regarding declaration of war in the Iraq situation.
Tier one is a tossup, with a slight positive (or lesser evil) for McCain. Not necessarily because he wants to do less evil, but we have hope that a gridlocked government will prevent him from committing worse evil. If the Democrats in congress grow spines, when their majority increases, they can prevent further military adventures, and if their oversight committees do their jobs, they can go some way toward protecting our freedoms. Now, all the capitulations recently in congress give me no hope this will actually happen, but nothing seems to motivate politicians to fight each other like partisan bickering. A good dose of split government is our best hope.
The tier two evil is slavery. By that, we mean the forcible taking of the fruits of labor from one individual by another individual or entity (in this case, the government). Both our candidates support the idea of slavery mentioned here, with regard to forcible redistribution of wealth. There are larger differences here, in magnitude. As is usually the case, the Democrats want what amounts to all-out socialism, of the retirement system, of education, of health care, now of energy(3). The Republicans seem to have adopted a strategy whereby they don't argue the merits of socialism, or the benefits of a free-market. Instead, they attempt to slow the march to socialism by introducing half-assed socialist programs like No Child Left Behind, and expanded prescription coverage programs. At the same time, Republicans abandon positions like vouchers and social security privatization. Its really hard to say whats better, to get to a fully socialist system, so that the breakdown comes that much more quickly and we can right the ship, or to drag it out longer and longer. I worry, that like a frog in a pot on the stove, who doesn't notice the gradual change of temperature of the water, and eventually boils to death, perhaps the gradual approach is actually worse than going all the way, so people can see more immediately how terrible it is, and change back to a free market system.
Tier two is really a toss-up. Whether the government takes 25% of my salary for programs I do not support and find morally reprehensible, or 35%, I am still a slave.
Tier 3 is environmental alarmism and establishment of neo-paganism as the new national religion. Both candidates are Al Gore clones on this issue. No winner, just losers.
Those are the major issues I see right now. Let me know if there are any other issues or topics you would like me to compare.
At this point, I won't be voting for either evil, I will be holding my nose and voting Bob Barr for president. Hopefully his conversion away from things like the Patriot Act and the Drug War are sincere. But while I vote third party, a safe action for me, a resident of Maryland that will go Democrat in November, as it always does. The choice will be hard for those in states that are not yet decided. I hope, slightly that we end up with McCain, only because I hope for gridlock and divided government.