Voting for the Lesser of Two Evils Is Evil

May 9, 2008

In George Orwell’s 1984, a novel about a brainwashed populace controlled by a totalitarian government, there is a term called “blackwhite.” It was the ability to accept whatever “truth” the ruling party put out. Orwell described it as, “loyal willingness to say black is white when party discipline demands this. It also means the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know black is white, and forget that one has ever believed the contrary.” Today, we are being asked to believe that evil is good.

One of the most often-repeated, “patriotic” statements that I hear lately is that we will just have to vote for the lesser of two evils. Sorry. Something must have gone wrong with my brainwashing. I just can’t get myself to believe that it is good to vote for evil. The last I heard, the lesser of two evils is still evil, and the Bible says, “Now I pray to God that ye do no evil.” Using the last vestiges of whatever brain tissue the public education system has left me, I believe I can still think clearly enough to realize that if I vote for something evil, I am trying to promote evil and am guilty of committing evil myself.

If a man tells you that it is your patriotic duty to choose between shooting your neighbor and shooting your neighbor’s dog, what would you do? Shooting your neighbor’s dog is the lesser of the two evils. But, if you are like me, you would shoot neither neighbor nor dog, and—keeping a wary eye on the man—reach for your phone to call 911 to have someone come out and pick up a likely escapee from the local loony bin. Yet we repeatedly hear politicians, journalists, and preachers telling us to do something very similar, and most of us seem to think it a very rational course of action.

But, you say, voting is different. Shooting my neighbor or his dog is not really patriotic, but voting is. Is it? Is voting always the patriotic thing to do? When all we can vote for is a lesser evil (but still an evil), is voting still our patriotic duty?

Let’s look at another hypothetical case. Suppose the candidates for president of the U.S. were Satan the devil and Adolf Hitler. Would you vote for Hitler because he is the lesser of two evils? Okay, we’ll make it more realistic. We’ll throw in a third party candidate: Benito Mussolini. Would you now hold up your “Viva il Duce!” banner and vote for Benito as being a little less evil than Adolf? After all, you would be discharging your patriotic duty and, as I increasingly hear, your Christian duty by voting for the lesser evil.

Then again, it is not always easy to even determine which is the lesser evil. Suppose there is one candidate who is pro-life but also pro-war? Another candidate is anti-war but for abortion (I won’t call it by the despicable newspeak term, pro-choice—the baby has no choice in the matter). Which do you vote for? Most Christian conservatives (note that I did not say conservative Christians) will choose the pro-life candidate. But history tells us that, once elected, most pro-life candidates do almost nothing to stop abortion. On the other hand, presidents do (contrary to the Constitution) start wars.

President George W. Bush was a pro-life candidate who won the Christian conservative vote. To his credit, he signed into law the bill that ended partial-birth abortions. Partial-birth abortions in the United States numbered in the hundreds to possibly a couple of thousand a year. Of course, even one was too many. But President Bush pushed for and started the unprovoked, preemptive attack against a sovereign nation that we commonly call the Iraq war (let’s be truthful, Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11). By conservative estimates, this war has resulted in an average of about 27,000 deaths a year (U.S. and coalition forces plus Iraqi deaths, including women and children). Less conservative estimates place this number as high as 218,000+ per year. By the way, it is estimated that Saddam Hussein killed about 25,000 to 50,000 Iraqis per year.

So, which is the lesser evil? Who would you vote for?

Did you know that the Bible gives an account of an election? Well, there was certainly voting of sorts. It’s found in Matthew 27:16-22:

And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.

Notice especially that Matthew 27:20 says, “But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.” Insane, isn’t it? This wasn’t a choice between two evils. Jesus was purely good. But the people—people He had taught, people He had healed, people He had miraculously fed—were persuaded by the religious leaders to vote, and they were persuaded to vote against Jesus and for Barabbas. What is the Bible telling us here? For one thing, it tells us that we must think critically about what our leaders, including our religious leaders, tell us to do. It also clearly shows us that the majority can be, and possibly usually is, wrong.

Given that in this biblical example, the choice was so clear and the people’s vote so wrong, why do Christians put their hope in elections? John 2:24-25 tells us that Jesus did not commit Himself to any man “for he knew what was in man.” What is in man? Evil. Lesser or greater, it is evil nonetheless. Romans 3:10-12 says, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

Sometimes it helps to make a decision by imagining what Jesus would do. I know that the “what would Jesus do” stuff has been overdone. But sometimes it really helps. Remember the Y2K scare when people were saying that all computers would break down at midnight on the New Year’s Eve beginning the year 2000, and that this would lead to famine and a breakdown in law and order? Sometime before that New Year’s Eve, I was asked by someone whether it would be right to store food and get guns to protect the food from roving bands of starving people. My answer was that there was nothing wrong with storing food per se. But I also asked the person if she could picture Jesus standing in front of a store of food, Rambo style, with an automatic weapon in His hands telling starving people to get the ____ out of here or He would blow their heads off. No, I rather think He would be handing the food out to the starving masses (and perhaps making it go a lot further than normal).

So, let’s picture Jesus faced with the possibility of voting in an election in which the best choice is merely the lesser evil. Can you honestly imagine Jesus voting for any kind of evil? If Herod and Pilate were running for the same office, would Jesus have voted for Pilate because he was the lesser evil? I can’t imagine it, can you? I can only see Jesus among the masses saying, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man” (Psalm 118:8), and, “Put not your trust in princes” (Psalm 146:3), and, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

At election time, is the only way we can show our patriotism and Christianity by voting for the lesser evil? I refuse to believe it. Did you know that most tyrants in the world legitimize themselves by making sure they win elections and then saying, “The people have spoken”? In the United States, we are only slightly more sophisticated. Here, the wizards of Oz who are working the controls behind the curtains set out two or three candidates for us (Tweedledee, Tweedledum, and Tweedledummer). Then they tell us to vote for one, and they convince even Christians that it is their patriotic and Christian duty to vote even if they realize that all of the candidates are some degree of evil. Having discharged their duty, the masses can feel good about themselves and go back to sleep while the powers that be pour more detergent into the brainwashing system called public education, erode our First Amendment rights, gain control over our food supply, and pick a fight with the next country that they want to control for strategic reasons.

Well, I am not going along with it this time. I am going to stand up and be counted by NOT voting. Imagine what would happen if most Americans refused to vote. The Washington establishment would lose its legitimacy, and all the world would have a chance to know that evil isn’t good.

Whoever wins, here are three Scriptures to keep in mind:

“Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above….” (John 19:11)

“This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.” (Daniel 4:17—emphasis mine)

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

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Copyright © 2008 Peter Ditzel