Voting for the Lesser of Two Evils is at Least Voting for Less Evil

Although I usually vote, I sympathize with people such as Bruce Charlton who regard voting as a bad system. There is no good reason to think that the masses will choose well, and only if all the candidates would do a good job can we give full approval to an election.

It seems to me that one basic reason we choose our leaders by voting is that we (meaning the zeitgeist and the average person of the West) don’t trust any other method. In ancient times the next leader was chosen because he was the son of the current leader, or because his tribe defeated the current king in battle, or because he was selected by a council of elders, or, rarely, because he was divinely appointed (as was King Saul in the Old Testament.)  Because we don’t trust these methods, we resort to voting.

This is an indication of the disorder of our society. If we cannot, or will not, trust our leaders, then something is seriously wrong. We acknowledge that there is something profoundly disordered about a family in which the children do not trust their parent, and the same is true about a nation in which the people do not trust their leaders. Regardless of who’s responsible (whether the parents are too wicked and cruel to be trusted, or the children are too wicked and rebellious to trust), lack of trust indicates a serious disorder.

In a family, relatively trivial issues can often be settled by voting. But if the question at hand is important, the parents must not abdicate their responsibility to choose rightly. If a society decides most of its important questions by voting, then it is, in effect, a nation without leaders.

At present, our leaders would choose radical leftism if not occasionally restrained by voting. Voting therefore serves as a short-term brake on destructive leftism. Being functionally leaderless can be, if not good, at least not as bad as having leaders dedicated to destruction. Randy Alcorn has said (HT Sola Sisters) that voting for the lesser of two evils is voting for less evil. And since less evil is better than more evil, I’ll go ahead and vote for Romney.

Another basic reason we decide important questions by voting is that we don’t believe in a stable order. For more than a hundred years now, we have believed in Progress. Change is the only constant. Expect the unexpected. In such a chaotic world, it would be absurd to expect that traditional authorities can rule wisely. Better to hold elections, so that the masses can officially express and ratify the latest truths.

[Bureaucracy serves a similar function. Bureaucrats translate the latest “research findings” into the official rules of the land, without the inefficiency of either having to convince the rulers or to subject the latest findings to a vote of the people.]

It would seem, then, that there is only one solid argument for voting: It is the way of our people, and has been for several hundred years. The best argument for voting is this: Since one ought to respect the traditions of his people, one ought to vote. Call it the traditionalist argument for voting.

But voting in itself remains highly suspect. As I said, I sympathize with those who refuse to vote.

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29 thoughts on “Voting for the Lesser of Two Evils is at Least Voting for Less Evil

  1. The problem is that we can’t really distinguish which is the “lesser of two evils” as both Romney and Obama are, at core, dedicated liberationists. Romney is such by way of Mormonism and Obama is such by way of identity crisis.

    • A scientific calculation of evil isn’t possible. In the case we’re talking about, it’s difficult to distinguish between two candidates who share a number of political assumptions which people of a conservative disposition reject.

      I guess what it boils down to for many voters, is a question of character rather than politics. Which character seems more worthy of our respect and confidence? Romney, in my opinion, wins this contest of at least apparent integrity with ease.

      • Alex,

        But at the most fundamental level, Romney and Obama have identical “natures.” Both have a “liberationist nature.” We really don’t “know” either of them. Romney’s appearance of integrity may be nothing other than his ability to be more successfully deceptive. The “enemy of my enemy is my friend” doctrine goes out the window in the radically liberated society.

        I still believe Dr. Charlton’s point stands, paraphrased thusly:

        There is no reason to believe that “voting” entails a good outcome.

        In short, the “voting” process does not really guarantee anything especially when all the players are some variant of radical autonomist.

  2. The analogy is unsound. A republican leader is NOT the father of his people. That is the monarch.
    In a republic, the citizens rule and are ruled in turn.

    Voting is NOT an intrinsic evil and there is absolutely nothing wrong with voting in elections. The trouble lies more in the deviation from the principle of subsidiarity and thus the tyrannical encroachment of the State over individual and religious matters where it should have no concern.

    • Voting is NOT an intrinsic evil and there is absolutely nothing wrong with voting in elections.

      Voting is not an intrinsic evil, true. It does not follow that it is morally acceptable. In order to be morally acceptable, one must have objectively proportionate reason to do so.

      Going to war is not an intrinsic evil either; it hardly follows that all decisions to go to war are morally licit.

      Right liberals tend to use “prudential judgement” in much the same way that left liberals use “primacy of conscience”: as a moral disinfectant which insulates their subjective conclusions from objective moral evaluation.

    • I think the analogy is sound, as far as it goes. Leaders are like fathers, in that they have the responsibility to manage and guide wisely, and that those they lead are not simply a random collection of humanity, but fellow members of a group who owe each other loyalty. The analogy is weaker or stronger depending on the type of group and on the society.

      • Loyalty but not filial loyalty (in a republic).
        The Tsar is the Little Father but the President is just a President.

        A republic and a monarchy are essentially different and you can not just transpose the concepts over.

  3. ” If a society decides most of its important questions by voting”

    Then it is not A society but many societies that is pretending to be One Society,

    A polity can not afford disagreement in the most important questions. Even the question smacks of unexamined Liberal assumptions.

    A City is a community of love, a people united and defined by the object of their love. It is a contradiction to speak of a City that has yet to decide most of its important question. E.g. The USA is defined by its dominant community–the white Protestants and politically by the Constitution. To speak of disagreement here, is to dissolve the nation.

    So only minor questions may be decided by voting. The exceptions should come very rarely and probably signal a drastic change in the Politics i.e. the City and its life itself.

  4. It makes no sense to entrust your children’s future to people who don’t care if they live or die. Voting now seems like a simulacrum of a civil war we are still too comfortable or cowardly to wage by force.

      • And there are more important things than preventing higher body counts.

        To some extent this is a non-issue. Voting is a meaningless symbol of the vestiges of citizenship in a non-existent civil society. Without restoration of a proper civil culture “politics” has little meaning.

        That said, I voted. There are, after all, differences between the choices. They may not be sizeable differences but they are there, and to suggest otherwise is to simply not be realistic. The restoration of a proper civil society is not a revolution: it will not happen all at once, but is a slow, detailed, complicated, painstaking process. Even if there is no restorationist political option, perhaps voting for the less-bad will slightly decrease the incline up which the restorationist cart must be pushed.

        I disagree with those who think it would be best to let the system collapse. Restoration of traditions is not possible when the society which espouses those traditions no longer exists. With proper treatment and care it is possible to bring the dying patient back to the vigor of life and health; it is not possible to restore the dead to the living. Not in this world anyways.

  5. There is no good reason to think that the masses will choose well …

    Which is why the US Constitution does not establish a democracy … no matter that the “liberals”/”progressives” have been teaching that for the past century.

    AT THE SAME TIME, “There is no good reason to think that [The Wise Men] will choose well” … and much evidence, gleaned over many centuries, that they generally will not.

  6. Pingback: Election Day Special Mini Linkfest « Patriactionary

  7. At present, our leaders would choose radical leftism if not occasionally restrained by voting.

    This is precisely backwards. Even a devout leftist and (arguable) misanthrope like Steve Jobs can rule a corporation efficiently… if he is given carte blanch to maximize the bottom line. If Jobs had to pacify his various less productive constituencies with “free stuff” from the most productive… well, I suppose AAPL would today have a ratio of liabilities to revenue about equal to 1, just like USG has.

    Our leaders only “choose radical leftism” to appease their constituency, whether it consists of free stuff, normalization/celebration of pathology, looking cool, whatever. No, the franchise, ever more unrestricted, is the problem. Plebiscites can of course occasionally set constituencies against each other (e.g., famously California’s 2008 Prop 8), but in the long run, voting pushes Cthulu to swim ever leftward.

    • Obviously not all leaders will choose leftism all the time. I was speaking statistically.

      At the same time, I must point out that the real leaders are those who have the authority to tell people what reality is. That is, the real leaders are the people whom the masses trust to tell them what’s real. At present, these would be the professors, the artists and the news readers. Clergy, unfortunately, are only trusted by the masses to teach them religious truth; most Christians absorb an anti-Christian worldview onto which they graft a few religious beliefs.

      Therefore the masses believe leftism because the leaders tell them they must. And the elected officials respond.

      And then there are the bureaucratic and the judicial branches of government, which are mostly immune to public pressure. These leaders constantly implement liberalism.

      Overall, then, my assertions is correct.

      • I am not sure I agree with Mr. Roebuck’s assertion. I believe it ignores the issue of incentives when the religious self-restraint disappears. Once self-discipline disappears, leaders, to remain in power, will drift leftward evermore.
        In terms of self-restraint, I just read this insteresting article by +Chaput, where he includes sola scriptura as an origin for the demise of self-discipline.

        http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/11/6902/

  8. Elections are a venerable Anglo-American tradition. The British Parliament has been sovereign since 1688, and all transfers of power including the coup of that year have been bloodless. For anyone who supports the Right on Maistrean economy-of-bloodshed grounds, that’s as good as the Direct Capetians and better than any pagan dynasty (Chinese dynasties could last four centuries, but those that did had a civil war in the middle). The United States is less venerable, but 150 years of peaceful transfers of power every 4-8 years still merits respect, given how Fallen men are.

    Rather than try to abolish the democratic element of our mixed constitutions altogether, we need a mechanism to make Anglos love our ancestors, so the people understand two things. One, voting is something for us, not something to be imposed on other countries by force of arms, And two, there shall be no official victim groups who get to be exceptions to the state’s monopoly on violence.

  9. Pingback: Why I still vote « Traditional Christianity

    • Coercion of charity, forced dispossession of the majority, an ever-expanding definition of made-up “rights,” enforced degeneracy, celebration of failure and mediocrity, glorification of victimhood, anti-white genocide, willful ignorance of Natural Law, insensitivity to the sacred, glib sarcasm as a substitute for rational argument, power-hungry status seeking, moral inversion, and the absolutely evil religion of political correctness..

      Stick around and learn a thing or two.

  10. If one believes that time is on the side of the orthodox reactionary, and comes to the (plausible but not sure) conclusion that Romney gains one more time to develop will and organization for real change, then it makes sense to vote for Romney.
    I conclude that time is not on the side of the orthodox reactionary. Quite the reverse. The more quickly things are brought to an intolerable head the better. That is, to use an example, it would have been better for the South if the Compromise of 1850 had not occurred, and the North-South confrontation to have occurred ten years before it did. At the very least, Mitt Romney stands at most in the position that Henry Clay once held, as the Great Compromiser. A compromise that made secession too late.
    To put it more plainly, it is not rational to work to save the system, when one believes the systems is the problem. When one wishes the system ill.
    Here is something that is undeniable: If Barrack is assaulting the nation, then it is the nation (a part thereof) that is assaulting this nation (the other part thereof). Because Barrack is not electing himself. He has the support of tens of millions who want him to do exactly what he is doing (and more), i.e., to assault you. This is not “our nation.” It is at least two nations.
    With respect to whether a Romney victory will save more lives of the unborn, this fact is not established. The fact is that a very plausible argument can be made that Barrack’s victory will save more lives, in that fewer women will feel compelled (erroneously) to abort their children. By the offer of more welfare benefits, etc….
    Ah… one may respond very logically, this is not about actual numbers of baby lives. Paying people not to kill their kids is a screwy form of extortion. The principle underlying involves the law itself, and the complicity of the citizenry in a law condoning infanticide. I wholly agree. The problem is, that Romney endorses the same principle of law—the absolute control over one’s physical person, regardless of community mores around it—but then refuses to apply it… in order to gain votes. It is the principle that is strengthened as every moment passes. Kicking the can down the road to one’s kids is not an ethical position to take.

  11. In pure consequentialist terms (which, of course, I don’t accept), I’m not sure what the best outcome would be. Let’s just consider the question of what would be best for conservatism.

    On the one hand, it would be a disaster for Obama to win the election. He’s made his hard-Left positions on baby-murder, sodomy, and anti-Catholic persecution the centerpiece of his campaign, and if he gets away with it, politicians will take note, and they will accept these positions as the settled public orthodoxy, beliefs only an “extremist” would question. So Obama must lose the election.

    On the other hand, it would be a disaster for Romney to actually become president, most obviously because Republicans cannot be trusted with foreign policy. A president Romney is bound to start some damn-fool war with someone, probably Iran, and because the public has gotten it into their heads that the Republicans are the conservative party, their disgrace will be transferred to us. Even without a war, the Republican party is simply incapable of governing because they don’t have enough sympathetic experts. On any issue where expertise is required–energy, the environment, foreign cultures, whatever–the Republican leader must either consult real experts who don’t share his goals (because all the educated and professional classes are on the other side), and who he therefore cannot trust, or he must follow the advise of ignorant but sympathetic hacks. His choice is to either execute a liberal policy competently or an illiberal policy incompetently. Again, after making utter fools of themselves, they will offload their disgrace onto us. “It was those ignorant Christians who made us make a mess of things.” I don’t know if conservatism could survive another Republican president.

    So, Obama must not win, but Romney must not rule. That’s a hard combination to pull off, isn’t it? Maybe if Romney gets the popular vote but Obama takes the electoral college. Maybe if Romney and Ryan are assassinated before taking office.

    • Obama winning re-election with a popular vote loss would be great. The best scenario for the Right is unbroken leftist rule with as little legitimacy as possible. You want to “heighten the contradictions” beyond the point of the regime being viewed as unconstitutional by consensus of the armed forces.

      • This is going to require us and our ilk to be quite obnoxious, or outspoken if you prefer.

        I think that Romney winning the popular vote and Obama cleaning up the electoral college is fantastic. Now there can be no doubt that we’re 2+ nations occupying the same state. Point out the internal contradictions and get on a consistent message. Don’t argue, ridicule. And above all, never shut up.

        We will win this. We are better. He is with us.

      • And of course, Obama won both. But God knows how much of that was due to good old fashioned Chicago politics.

        Or, you know, a third of Mexico having colonized the Southwest.

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