“Most men are not wicked. They are sleepwalkers, not evildoers.”
~ Franz Kafka
Lesser evil voting is mostly knee jerk groupthink, not rational decision-making and strategic thinking. If it was rational and strategic, Sanders would be guaranteed the nomination.
Sanders is the only candidate that the polling data has regularly shown to have any chance to defeat any of the Republican candidates. And he is the only candidate with both high popular support and low negative public opinion. On top of that, he is the only candidate of either political party whose politics aren’t some combination of neoliberalism and neoconservatism.
It’s about the narrative, the frame of how people think and what they can imagine. Lesser evil voting tends to mean backing the establishment and the status quo, no matter what. Some people use lesser voting strategically as a tactic, but these people are probably such a tiny fraction of a percentage of the voters as to be insignificant for elections. For most, lesser evil voting is simply about fear of the alternatives, even when their actions make the feared alternatives more likely.
Besides, so much of the argument seems pointless. Hillary Clinton has won most of the delegates even in states that have a majority supporting Sanders. The same happens in elections. What most Americans want is irrelevant to the system, especially considering how constrained is the election process, how controlled and manipulated and undermined is the pseudo-democracy. In a fully functioning democracy, neither Clinton nor Trump would make it very far in the process—both offering oppressive authoritarianism. Candidates like that don’t represent what most Americans support, as polls show. Despite how the MSM dismisses Sanders, he actually represents what is majority opinion.
None of this is charade is rational. It doesn’t matter what is proven to be true in polls, political records, released e-mails, historical documents, etc. It’s not about the issues. It’s not about what the American public supports and wants. This isn’t an actual democracy we live in. This is an open secret. Social science research has gone into this in great detail. It’s a favorite topic on the internet. Even the mainstream (corporate) media every so often throws up a piece on either asserting or questioning whether the US is still a democracy; and if not, what is it—military-industrial complex, banana republic, shadow government, deep state, inverted totalitarianism, corporatism/fascism, plutocracy, dark money, police state, or what exactly? The only place you don’t hear this kind of thing is in mainstream (corporatist) politics.
Yet everything goes on as if normal. We live in this dissociated state. We know it all is a charade or at least have strong suspicions. But we can’t bring ourselves to fully acknowledge this and act rationally in response to it. Rationality seems impotent when confronted by such horrific possibilities. Thinking along these lines would lead to radical notions and questions, and so we expunge them from our consciousness. It’s best not to think too much about it all. One might start feeling unacceptable impulses toward protesting in the streets, marching on the capitol, or God Forbid! starting a revolution. All of a sudden, the choice between Coke and Pepsi might be understood as meaningless as it always was. Such thoughts make people unhappy. If you confront people with this, they will get upset and angry. You can lose friends that way.
It’s understandable. There was something I think Franz Kafka said that has stuck with me—to paraphrase: Don’t destroy someone’s world, unless you have something better to offer them. That’s a tough standard to hold oneself to. It’s hard to imagine something new until the old has been cleared away. It might not be a matter of destroying someone’s world when they are acting self-destructively toward their own world.
In this situation, do you wait for full destruction to be complete before suggesting the consideration of alternatives? Why do we wait for problems to almost be past the point of any solution before even trying to figure out what those problems are?
None of this was inevitable. It was a series of choices made, the results accumulating over time.
Imagine if we had taken a different path. Imagine decades or even generations of greater good voting. Imagine for the past century that elected presidents included the likes of Eugene V. Debs, McGovern, Nader, Sanders, Jill Stein, etc. We wouldn’t even be facing the problems we now face. It’s not just about the lesser evil of this or that election, but endless kneejerk groupthink and fearmongering defense of the status quo.
Pointing this all out to people just irritates them. They have no way to make sense of it. The old narratives no longer explain much of anything and yet there is no compelling narrative to take their place. To imagine something new and different, people need to be told a story that draws them in and suspends their disbelief. One moment of envisioning an alternative could lift the cloud of cynicism and apathy.
That is one hell of a challenge. But maybe it doesn’t need to be as daunting as we make it. By nature, humans are talented at imagination. We are all dreamers. The trick is to learn how to dream while awake. Maybe this is not unlike, as Douglas Adams suggested, learning to fly by throwing yourself at the ground and missing. So, let’s throw ourselves at the dystopian fears before us and hope we miss.
* * *
The Logic of Lesser Evilism
by Andrew Levine, CounterPunch
The Reflective Voter’s Fear
by Andrew Levine, CounterPunch
75% in U.S. See Widespread Government Corruption
Banana Republic Level of Inequality Is Undermining America’s Geopolitical Power
by Washingtons Blog
America the Banana Republic
by Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair
10 ways America has come to resemble a banana republic
by Alex Henderson, Alternet
Our Banana Republic
by Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times
The Permanent Militarization of America
by Aaron B. O’Connell, The New York Times
The Danger of American Fascism
by Henry A. Wallace, New York Times
When Fascism Was American
by Joe Allen, Jacobin
Have The American People Accepted Corporate State Fascism?
by Ray Pensador, Daily Kos
Deep state in the United States
Deep State America
by Philip Giraldi, The American Conservative
The Deep State
by Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal
The War on Democracy: The Deep State
by Bob Burnett, Huffington Post
The Quiet Coup: No, Not Egypt. Here.
by John Tirman, Huffington Post
Controlled by shadow government: Mike Lofgren reveals how top U.S. officials are at the mercy of the “deep state”
by Elias Isquith, Salon
“Every president has been manipulated by national security officials”: David Talbot exposes America’s “deep state”
Liam O’Donoghue, Salon
Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change.
by Jordan Michael Smith, Boston Globe
National Security and Double Government
by Michael J. Glennon, Harvard National Security Journal
Examining Who Runs the United States
by Anand Giridharadas, The New York Times
Sheldon Wolin and Inverted Totalitarianism
by Chris Hedges, Truthdig
by Sheldon Wolin, The Nation
Nick Hanauer: Beware, fellow plutocrats, the pitchforks are coming
TED Talk video
How Gilded Ages End
by Paul Starr, The American Prospect
The Political Roots of Widening Inequality
by Robert Reich, The American Prospect
Plutocrats Against Democracy
by Paul Krugman, The New York Times
America slouches toward plutocracy
by Sean McElwee, Al Jazeera America
A Study in Plutocracy: Rich Americans Wield Political Influence, the Rest of Us Don’t
by John Light, Moyers & Company
We are Becoming a Plutocracy No Matter What Obama Proposes Tomorrow
by Robert Lenzner, Forbes
5 signs America is devolving into a plutocracy
by Tom Engelhardt, Salon