The Lesser Evil: Yes, Hillary Clinton is more Hawk than Dove when it comes to US foreign and defence policy. And, yes, like so many “mainstream” Democrats, she is not above taking donations from her friends in Wall Street, Hollywood and Silicon Valley. But what she is not, is a bloated, foul-mouthed racist and misogynist, who, facing imminent defeat, is preparing, like some narcissistic parody of Samson, to pull down the temple of American democracy upon the heads of its fractious citizens.
THE CLAIM that “voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil” raises as many difficulties as it resolves. If we accept that society’s most intractable problems are a reflection of its most serious imperfections, then, surely, we must also accept that imperfect solutions are the best we can hope for? If the only choice presented to us is between inflicting less – or more – harm upon the world, then, surely, the only way for us to do any good is by deciding to do the least evil?
Simply refusing to choose between the greater and the lesser evil does not get us off the hook – not if our desire is to do the most good we can, whenever we can. If that is not our desire, then fine – we can just shrug our shoulders and walk away.
But, presumably, the very fact that we find choosing between (in this case) Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton so frustrating is because we have a vision of the United States that neither candidate is willing to fulfil completely. Like progressive activists all around the world, we want a socially-just, ecologically-sustainable and peace-making America. How likely are we to see that America, however, if the best advice we can offer our American comrades is to simply throw up their hands in exasperation and cry “A plague on both your houses!”?
Yes, you could argue that given the evident corruption of the Republican and Democratic parties, the best way to do good is to encourage American progressives to build a new political party. And you might be right – but it doesn’t solve the problem of what to do now. A genuinely progressive and thoroughly organised third party is not going to be on the ballot-paper on 8 November!
Then, again, you might say that voting for one of the minor party candidates is the best way of doing good. Except that, as John Oliver’s latest Last Week Tonight show so brilliantly demonstrates, the Libertarian’s Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein are complete flakes, whose grasp of what the US President can and cannot do is as woefully inadequate as Trump’s.
Nor will it do to simply declare that since New Zealanders don’t get to vote in the 2016 US Presidential Election, the choice between Trump and Clinton is one we can, mercifully, avoid. But, if we take it upon ourselves to judge and condemn these candidates (and boy do left-wing Kiwis love to judge and condemn these candidates!) then it seems entirely gutless to refuse to make the imaginative leap into an American polling-booth and choose.
Not that the choice is all that difficult – not really.
Yes, Hillary Clinton is more Hawk than Dove when it comes to US foreign and defence policy. And, yes, like so many “mainstream” Democrats, she is not above taking donations from her friends in Wall Street, Hollywood and Silicon Valley. But what she is not, is a bloated, foul-mouthed racist and misogynist, who, thwarted in his grandiose ambitions (quite possibly for the first time in his entire life) and facing imminent defeat, is preparing, like some narcissistic parody of Samson, to pull down the temple of American democracy upon the heads of its fractious citizens.
The socially-just, ecologically-sustainable and peace-making America we are all hoping for is unlikely to be fully realised under President Hillary Clinton, but a great deal more of it will be brought into existence under her leadership than under Donald Trump’s.
In an imperfect world, the imperfect solution is to vote for the least-worst presidential candidate. For the greater good, American progressives are morally obliged to choose the lesser evil – Hillary Clinton.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Wednesday, 19 October 2016.
I dont agree Chris. First I accept that either Clinton or Trump will win. But to not vote against them is to endorse the system. So vote for a third party.
The US is not a functioning democracy: it was set up as a plutocracy with the majority excluded from voting. It has despite enfranchisement remained plutocratic. To break this will require a valid non establishment challenge i.e a third party that can plausibly beat one of the GOP DEM candidates.
I would contend that Sanders and Trump represent a huge chunk of voters who with a "real" alternative candidate could have challenged the dual tyranny of GOP DEM.
I have no time for the 'lesser of two evils' argument, it just legitimises voting for one rat-bag over another. Especially when there's a perfectly sound third party candidate to boot in the form of Jill Stein from the Green Party.
The good thing about Trump is that he may engage people, of all persuasions, to follow politics. Where as under Hilary, its more of the same, thus, people will once again soon tune out and away she goes serving the interests of the very rich yet again, while throwing the odd crumb here and there to everyone else to appease the masses. This is as good a time as any for a prize p---k to take the reigns.
No one surely, could in good conscience vote for what Bill Maher is calling the "great white grope".
My view has been that though Trump is quite horrible, he has been consistent in saying he would avoid a war with Russia over Syria; Wheras Hillary Clinton has consistently said she would take action that it would seem must end that way. After today's debate Trump has not done anything to improve his chances so unless she collapses in a coma she is going to be president.
My preference for Trump has ridden entirely on this difference.
Today though on the no fly zone issue she was not so forthright saying that she would negotiate a no fly zone with Russia indicating that she thinks , or claims to think that they will meekly comply. I can't imagine who she thinks might believe that, I'm sure she doesn't , but what I take from it is that she is beginning the process of a climbdown from that hawkish position which gives me some hope. However she is basically going to be a mascot for the unelected powers that run America and hence pretty much run the world , and they have invested enough testosterone into getting rid of Assad to fill an olympic swimming pool, so the situation remains very dangerous.
Incidentally , word on the naughty news outlets is that Isis in Mosul is going to be escorted into Syria for Assad to deal with. I wonder what deals have been done there if this is true.
Cheers David J S
It sets nerves tingling to see all that can be offered from a huge country are these two sock puppets, as the deprecatory slang goes.
More tingly still after listening to Tedtalk from Sam Harris about AI (Artificial Intelligence) that seems bound to finish us off.
See links. Could be interesting to start thinking about this and leave Atlantis alone to search for itself.
Sam Harris 14 mins 2016 Tedtalk on AI
2hours plus Published on Aug 22, 2016
A compilation of all conversations Sam Harris has had on the topic of AI.
I think we are still thinking of AI as a marvellous toy. Here is my offering of Peter Paul and Mary singing to the little kiddies about that
Marvellous Toy. Nostalgia. Nostalgia isn't what it was, it is now what happened yesterday! We are too old and weary for toys so what are we going to do with AI? Our present political systems are completely dysfunctional so can't look to politicians to make even the most needed changes to enable legislation requested for our journey through life and death.
I agree with you, Chris.
In such circumstances, not to vote for the lesser of two evils is to cast half a vote for the greater of two evils.
But I also agree that Hillary's hawkishness is cause for deep concern. If elected, I hope she doesn't give State to Susan Rice or Samantha Powers.
I am convinced that the USA will be at war with Russia inside the first two years of a Clinton presidency. There will be no crowing if I'm right because we will all be screwed. This abject failure of the misaerable minority of yanks who get off their butts to vote should be the trigger for a UN supervised contest where we in the civilised non american world bring the planet and all its inhabitants back from imminent catastrophe and choose a sane candidate for them (and us - given the nracissitic b...stards claim to be the Leader of the Free world.
" he has been consistent in saying he would avoid a war with Russia over Syria"
Perhaps. And yet that's probably the only thing he has been consistent on. And actually says nothing about policy, because Trump doesn't actually have policies, he just makes off-the-cuff statements. And even with the president's wide powers over war, Clinton has to persuade her advisors, and the armed forces. And I don't think even she would risk outright war with Russia. Time will tell I guess, and I must say this gives me another reason to be glad I live at the other end of the bloody world.
Well in crude terms, American women appear to have a choice between the chance of being groped by Trump or nuked by Clinton.
Neither are especially attractive options, neither are especially likely ... but mmmm choices, choices...
If Trump gets in and can stand against new wars, then good. But he is a businessman and war is a profitable business for which there seems endless capital. It's money that counts; once a President with a hawkish bunch of pollies as senators or whatever they call themselves why should he not do the opposite to his previous declarations?
Interesting on radio news Phillipines declared they are no longer attached to USA, but allying themselves with China and Russia against the rest of the world. I refreshed my info on Russia, and find that they are low on charts on-line for major currencies, population except for their huge land mass. Great if USA chose some decent foreign policies while they still are dominant and settled down to some rational work on climate change, sustainability and smart thinking. But headlong into the fray they go planning game-style wars from the comfort of their air conditioned palaces.
The Charge of the Light Brigade is supposed to have originated from a misunderstood directive and perhaps inadequate intelligence. Same today with our current adventures. The faulty behaviours of today seem to be in our genes, coming from our subconscious while our brain is in automatic mode. The USA government doesn't exist. It is an enduring figment of someone's imagination, a vast Truman Show on which to hang expensive advertising because it has so much pulling power for the punters. The elections are just an extended memorial of a propaganda campaign about democracy which was actioned and is now known to be a failed experiment. Nothing left but to find somewhere to bury the toxic ashes. In the meantime we have the heads of Cold Lazarus embalmed and stimulated regularly to produce images and scenarios to excite the peeps into action.
No argument about Trump; I think Hillary will cooperate with whatever her advisers in the pentagon the state department and C I A advise. Thats what worries me. But it looks like Putin and Assad have got Aleppo under control or soon will have , so that crisis might be over especially as US allies are now engaged with an identical problem in Mosul.
If Mosul falls surprisingly easily it will be because a deal has been done to escort them safely to Raqqa . They won't leave the protection of their human shield unless they have been promised safe passage to another human shield. As you say we'll see.
Cheers D J S
The problem with Trump's "policies" is that he lies – a lot. He's been fact checked, along with Hillary and found to issue a lie about every 3 minutes. He lies or shades the truth far more than she does. Now much of this is because he doesn't actually know anything and she does, but how can we judge what his policies are going to be, even if they are stated plainly? Trump is just a hollow man.
I agree with David Stone. I would vote for Trump if only because we know what the Clintons war history is and it is not pretty. And it would not stop with Hilary as President. If she does get in we will know what we are in for if Victoria Nuland, Samantha Power or Susan Rice are appointed to a position of power. I don't really care what happens to America but I do care about the damage it is and can afflict on other parts of the world.
Turkey are also saying, I think that they will pull out of NATO and align with Russia if Hillary wins. Erdogan is pissed off withe the US over its refusal to extradite Gulen, and Hillary's support for the Kurds looks like it would be the last straw.
I've said it elsewhere, but supporting Trump because Hillary is insufficiently pure is like supporting Hitler because Winston Churchill was a nasty imperialist redbaiter (which he was, but Hitler was worse, and saying this election outcome doesn't matter is like saying that WWII's outcome didn't matter. For goodness sake, does the Supreme Court mean nothing?).
As for Jill Stein, even leaving aside her inability to grasp the way US Government operates, and even leaving aside her reprehensible courting of anti-vaxxers, the US Green Party exists to get Republicans elected (the Republicans move heaven and earth to try and get them on the ballot, for that very reason). The place to challenge Hillary from the Left was the primary - Bernie tried, and lost, but unlike Stein, Sanders actually has a brain, so he's backing Clinton. Some of us are also capable of remembering 2000, and how Ralph Nader's ego gave us George W. Bush.
You really should care what happens to America. What happens there may well become the template for the rest of the developed world.
The triumph of a racist,sexist, lying, posturing, xenophobic, fascistoid, ego-tripping right wing bully in the US will make it all the easier for others of the same ilk to triumph elsewhere.
Do you really think that would make the world a safer place?
" others of the same ilk to triumph elsewhere."
Seems to me they already have. Russia, Turkey, Brazil?
Dispelling the Ralph Nader election myth of 2000. http://www.cagreens.org/alameda/city/0803myth/myth.html
Victor, the world is not a safe place now. If you think that the Clintons are the opposite of "racist, sexist, lying, xenophobic, fascitoid and ego tripping" and that the world would be a safer place with them then you are sadly mistakened. They fit those words exactly but they do it at a distance and oh so politely. The existing political system through out the world is in a bad way and in particular the American system. For the rest of the world there is the possibility of hope but not in America which is NOW the template for the rest of the World.
Interesting take on Hills!
I think we would be safer with Trump: he is pure Munro doctrine. Not so good for those inside America though. Hillary by comparison has a track record of ill judged hawkishness that scares the bejasus out of me.
Yes it's already happening all over the place. Why make it worse?
Why make it worse?
I think a more nuanced view of Trump/Clinton and the whole American election is presented here, and may well be necessary.
Victor, I wasn't saying we should make it worse. I was just saying that Trump is merely part of a phenomenon, and while an important part, not the first.
CBS is a US mainline media organisation. This is real footage of Hillary. "We came, we saw, he died" she boasts and giggles. This is the woman so many of you are craving to be the next person in charge of the nuclear button. Be very afraid.
Grey Warbler ...The Charge of the Light Brigade is supposed to have originated from a misunderstood directive
This earlier Crimean war had at its very roots a willy waving dispute between the Catholics and the Russian Orthodox Church as to who was going to get custody of the Holy Sepulchre in Bethlehem under the Ottomans rule. Yes it was as trivial as that which makes the current dangerous US anti Russian vendetta with a salivating Clinton in its vanguard even more frightening. Clinton will be the last POTUS.
Point taken. I would add that, once a fashion hits the US, it will probably hit everywhere, given a wee bit of time.
The lesser evil.
A vote for Clinton is a vote for the status quo.
It is a vote for "regime change" in any State that does not conform to the Judeo/Christian ideal of rampant capitalism.
It is a vote for what Hillary has promoted all over the World - fracking.
It is a vote for the maintenance of 800 military bases the U.S. has installed Worldwide.
It is a vote for the annihilation of any hope for an even remotely fair settlement of the Palestinian atrocity.
It is a vote for American exceptionalism.
It is a vote for the most overtly corrupt figure to feature in American politics for a long, long time.
It is a vote based on information promoted by a media the Clinton Telecommunications Act of 1996 enabled to go from 50 companies owning 90% of the media to 6 owning 90%.
It is one of those moments in History when the Left gets very confused.
The greater evil?
1. He has used his bankruptcies to further his own ends and make himself rich while ripping off other investors. I mean, there is pretty much no dispute about this. Legal though it is, it does show a lack of ethics.
2. Trump University has been categorized by Eric Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York as outright fraud. It is involved in at least two federal lawsuits, and was pretty much forced to close its doors in Texas, even though no court case was involved.
3. Trump's involvement in beauty pageants resulted in at least one out-of-court settlement for sexual harassment.
4. Trump was sued by the city of New York for discriminating in housing rentals on the basis of race.
5. Trump was forced to settle with tenants of one of his buildings who he tried to drive out by various unethical means, so he could tear the building down and create luxury apartments.
6. Trump has employed illegal workers on some of his buildings, paying them as little as three dollars an hour, yet one of his major platforms is immigration reform.
7. Trump has been fined many times for unethical business practices with regard to his casino operations.
8. He has almost certainly lied about his net worth, and refuses to release his taxes as is customary with presidential nominees.
9. Trump is constantly being sued by small business people – people who I would have thought you had a certain amount of sympathy for – for stiffing them on payments. And getting away with it, largely because they can't afford long involved court cases and he can.
I am pretty much ashamed of America, that they can only produce these two out of three hundred odd million people. But if we are going to talk about corruption, militarism, exceptionalism, despoliation of the environment et cetera, then Trump deserves an honourable mention at the very least. Given the things that he has done, I doubt you can make a case for Hillary and being more corrupt than he is. And at least she does tend to keep her hands to herself.
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