the politicians all make speeches
while the news men all take notes
and they exaggerate the issues
as they shove them down our throats
is it really up to them
whether this country sinks or floats
well I wonder who would lead us
if none of us would vote~ Larry Norman, from The Great American Novel
I’ve heard it said about every presidential election I can remember.
Along with saying they might not vote at all, I have heard a number of people refer to voting the lesser of two evils in this upcoming election. This seems to be said mostly in reference to voting for Barack Obama. I tend to agree, but not because I think Obama merely represents a lesser evil*, but because voting is largely about voting for which elite do I want to be in power. I want to pick the elite that will do the most good over time for the country – even though I don’t really want to pick any elite.
I don’t like the idea of this thing we call democracy being about elites ruling the masses. It doesn’t sound right. But it’s what we got. It was built into our system by the “founding fathers.” That may be why so many people feel disconnected from being able to affect much change – it’s because we are. But not entirely. Voting does matter, and voting for the lesser of two evils does matter. In fact, it’s a good thing.
For a little perspective here’s Noam Chomsky talking about choosing the lesser of two evils, and why this is the system we have:
So, if I can help it (read: do my homework and make an informed choice), I will try to NOT vote for the greater of two evils. I am disinclined to vote outside the two most prominent choices because to do so is to inadvertently support whoever wins, and that could be the greater of the two evils. And yet I believe one should vote one’s conscience, so I consider all candidates as my potential choice.
* I want to be clear. This is not about which person is the lesser of two evils. I don’t think Obama or McCain are personally more or less evil than anyone else. What we have is a system of slight, but ultimately significant differences. Which faction of of the “business party” is in power is important – over time.