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Outsiders vs. Insiders: In politics is there really such thing as the ‘lesser of two evils?’

When it comes to elections, we hear these things a lot: “Hold your nose and vote”; “I’ll vote for the lesser of two evils”… “I don’t favor either of them but I’ll choose the Democrat/Republican.” “I don’t like politics so I don’t even pay attention to it.” “It doesn’t make a difference to me one way or the other.” “They’re all corrupt.” “All of them should be in jail.”

These are defensive psychological responses individuals sometimes resort to when asked to reveal whom they intend to vote for on Election Day. To many, probing one’s political views is almost as off-putting as asking Lesser of two evilsthem about their age – or gasp, their weight.

It shouldn’t be that way; voting should be seen as a privilege and one’s political beliefs aren’t necessarily something that should be kept under wraps like the size of your family’s retirement savings portfolio or your kid’s one-time run-in with the cops at a college party that you don’t want the in-laws to find out about.

Yes, citizens should want to vote and cherish the franchise in a similar fashion to their firearms or right to speak. As a matter of course the people of Alabama should desire to vote next week in their special senate election between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. It’s not just a question of voting because you have to – it’s something Alabamians should want to do.

Nevertheless, some say people shouldn’t merely accept just anyone. In a post titled “Don’t Choose the Lesser of Two Evils,” consummate #NeverTrumper Jonah Goldberg wrote at National Review, “Right now, we’re trying to put the pieces back together. That’s what the new ‘zero tolerance’ wave is really all about. But it’s hard because so many institutions have been weakened or delegitimized. As Rousseau once observed somewhere, censorship is useful for preserving morals, but it’s useless for restoring them. And because politics is no longer contained to arguments about the growth of government, taxes, etc., our definitions of good character and basic morality are now yoked to political expediency.

“What we need — again — are universal standards of moral conduct. When politicians, journalists, and philosophers can, in the same breath, say they are deeply troubled by the behavior of pigs and predators when they have a D next to their name but are blasé about pigs and predators who have Rs next to theirs, you know that we have a lot of work ahead of us.”

It’s evident from reading Goldberg’s (and other #NeverTrumpers’) work over a period of time that they consider themselves the arbiters and keepers of virtue, as though they alone establish who is morally fit (or not) to campaign for public office.

The whole notion of who is “unfit” and “illegitimate” is a concept for the eye of the beholder. Just because someone is accused of something doesn’t mean he or she is what the accuser says they are. Roy Moore has been called a lot of things in the past month and people are free to examine the statements and the evidence and make their own conclusions.

Just because Goldberg has already sided with the Democrats and the media against the preponderance of the credible evidence in Moore’s case doesn’t mean the completely opposite conclusion of someone else is any less correct -- or immoral.

Politics is politics. The late comedian Robin Williams used to say about the subject: “Politics: ‘Poli’ a Latin word meaning ‘many’ and ‘tics’ meaning ‘bloodsucking creatures’.” (Note: The saying predates Williams.)

A lot of people believe the “many bloodsucking creatures” joke, apparently. And unfortunately, there’s a lot of truth in it for a healthy number of officeholders. But not all politicians are created equal and they’re not all corrupt. These are matters that should be widely discussed and hashed over with differences of opinion tolerated if not welcomed.

Having spent a fair amount of time at Colonial Williamsburg this year it’s struck me how freely the Founding Fathers discussed higher philosophical issues such as life, liberty and the pursuit of property. Sure, the great men were largely a privileged lot who were fortunate enough to study under tutors like Virginia’s George Wythe, a teacher who insisted that students not only read the classics and learn them – they also needed to discuss and argue them, too.

By contrast walk into a classroom these days and no one wants to talk about politics or religion or history unless it has some connection to bashing President Trump or decrying the “Islamophobia” in today’s American culture or making mincemeat out of the men who formulated the nation well over 200 years ago because a good many of them owned slaves that they couldn’t legally set free at the time (a little known fact, right?).

Shouldn’t we be talking about these higher concepts over the Thanksgiving (and now Christmas) dinner table? What’s wrong with discussing tax rates or the merits of greater immigration enforcement between sips of fine wine and tender Christmas goose? And should you delve deeper into the real “hot button” topics of same-sex marriage and abortion with liberals present prepare to deal with fireworks – but that doesn’t mean they should be off-limits. People need dialogue about these things.

Everyone should recognize it’s okay to choose a side and likewise it’s acceptable to announce it publicly. President Trump did just that the other day. Anna Giaritelli of the Washington Examiner reported, “President Trump on Monday tweeted support for GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, ending a weeks-long refusal by the White House to explicitly endorse the judge.

“’Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama. We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet!’ Trump tweeted Monday morning.

“’Putting Pelosi/Schumer Liberal Puppet Jones into office in Alabama would hurt our great Republican Agenda of low taxes, tough on crime, strong on military and borders...& so much more,’ he said in a separate tweet. ‘Look at your 401-ks since Election. Highest Stock Market EVER! Jobs are roaring back!’”

Trump obviously didn’t refer to the controversy surrounding Moore but he’d previously stated (last week) that it was a he said/she said situation from forty years ago and it can’t be proven one way or the other. Therefore the Alabama contest boils down to who you believe – and there isn’t a provable answer.

It doesn’t make Moore more or less “evil” than Doug Jones. This is a political race. Choose on the merits.

It’s a myth in any election to claim there are “two evils” and one is “lesser”. Everyone knows the “choose the lesser of two evils” phrase was used extensively in last year’s presidential election, but over the course of getting to know Donald Trump (the political candidate) it was clear there was really only one “evil” in the contest. And it wasn’t the first-time office-seeker from New York City.

Liberals and the media did their best to depict Trump as the womanizing second coming of Adolph Hitler yet Trump’s platform still won the day in blue states that hadn’t gone Republican since the 80’s in addition to carrying nearly all of the crucial “swing” states the two parties battle over every four years.

Was there a lot of nose plugging and people playing rock/paper/scissors in the voting booth while trying to decide between “evils” Trump and Crooked Hillary? I’m guessing not. Post-election polls suggested even though Trump was somewhat personally unpopular Americans took to his issue portfolio – enforcing the immigration laws, beefing up the military, reforming the federal government and rethinking trade agreements (to name a few).

And then there was Trump’s promise to appoint a constitutional originalist successor to the late Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court. Court appointments should be at the forefront of every conservative or Republican candidate’s campaign. The issue focuses peoples’ attention and helps drive home the importance of voting.

In 2016 there weren’t two “evils.” Trump represented something quite good, in fact; even if a lot of folks didn’t take to his unrefined and brash political style they could at least relate to the good old fashioned bread and butter concepts he talked about during his campaign.

The same is true in Alabama and every other place. I can scarcely think of an instance where there were only two “evil” choices to select from (unless you’re a resident of California, of course – From Ballotpedia: California utilizes a top-two primary system, which allows all candidates to run and all voters to vote but only moves the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, to the general election.).

Both candidates are rarely “evil” if you get down to it. Thankfully there are usually more than enough clues to determine which one better fits the description.

In Arkansas, for example, some people are urging Chelsea Clinton to run for Senator Tom Cotton’s seat should he be called to serve in the Trump administration (as CIA head). Bill Scher wrote in Politico Magazine, “She has the Clinton name but little of the Clinton baggage. She wouldn’t hurt for name recognition or campaign cash. She’s vice chair of the controversy magnet known as the Clinton Foundation, but emails released during the presidential campaign by WikiLeaks and the State Department show Chelsea getting caught doing good, seeking to root out corruption by foundation officials and warning of problems with Haiti earthquake relief.

“She is an Arkansas native, even though she hasn’t lived there since she was 12. Sure, she lives in Manhattan now and lacks a Southern accent. But her mom bought her first house in New York two months before she launched her Senate bid, proving ZIP code ain’t nothing but a number. Carpetbagger charges are inevitable.

“But in the end, what matters is your knowledge and respect of the state and its voters. Chelsea shows no hint of cultural condescension toward her birthplace. For example, as an NBC reporter, she spotlighted efforts to preserve the folk music traditions of the city of Mountain View in the Ozarks.”

Scher concedes the Arkansas Democrat party is in shambles, but is he seriously advocating Chelsea Clinton as a potential savior? The Clinton family is so discredited Chelsea wouldn’t stand (or deserve) a chance. The “evil” label might stick to her just because of her last name.

Political races should be judged on their own merits. Candidates by and large aren’t sinister and therefore can’t really be deemed “the lesser of two evils.” Roy Moore deserves a fair hearing by Alabama’s voters next week and despite what the media claims it appears as though he’ll get it.

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