The Lesser of the Two Evil Argument

This is personal and might be emotional. It’s about Trump’s travel ban. Growing up I read how conservatives fall in line, while liberals want to fall in love. No one is good enough for them. Or how liberals eat their own because no one can stand up to their self-righteous morals.

We want new faces. When new faces have no responsibility we like them. When they actually rise up and become party leaders or get elected to executive positions, we turn on them because sloganeering and governing aren’t the same.

I was reading that for last 50+ years in every election this lesser of two evils argument comes up, mostly among 10-15% of young liberals. In 2012 Hillary had favorability ratings in high 60s and a third of Democrats wanted her to primary Obama. In 2016 she was the lesser of two evils. What changed in 4 years? In 2016 Biden had favorability in the 60s and he was more loved by liberals than Obama for pushing him towards supporting gay marriage, and today he is the lesser of two evils for 10% of liberals. What changed in 4 years?

Or is the lesser of two evil argument more to do with the inherent disappointment of our options or choices? Where something is more attractive when its a potential than a reality. The potential or perception of Obama was different from the governing reality of Obama. Where the perception of Hillary and Biden when not running are always different from when they are running? And when reality hits, we say this universally across the planet – politicians are all the same.

I am not arguing that we must resign ourselves to shitty politicians. We must hold the feet of public officials to fire. They must be criticized when appropriate. But governing is different from campaigning. Protest votes, even in Congress, is easy compared to making decisions in leadership. That’s something young idealists should not lose track of in a democracy. I also realize that I am reaching an age where pure idealism is starting to clash against harsh realism. Yes, there can be two truly evil choices. But if it becomes a pattern over decades for a certain age demographics, that’s something to think about.

Why do I care about those 10%? I had said before that some of us cannot afford “there is no difference between Trump and Hillary/Biden”. Once the Muslim ban happened, some lives were ruined forever. In immigration, it doesn’t take much for someone to lose access to United States forever. With the virus travel ban, some people were stuck outside. Now with the visa ban, some might not be able to come back ever. Someone very close to me got stuck, and now had to ship everything back to home country from New York. Don’t know if they will ever return. They had gone only for a short holiday to visit family overseas. Some of us don’t have the luxury of expecting the absolutely perfect world today. We hope to reach it through incremental progress. But we still have to face a daily existence that isn’t privileged.

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