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Chomsky's Argument for the Lesser of Two Evils

The broader lesson to be drawn is not to shy away from confronting the dominance of the political system under the management of the two major parties. Rather, challenges to it need to be issued with a full awareness of their possible consequences. This includes the recognition that far right victories not only impose terrible suffering on the most vulnerable segments of society but also function as a powerful weapon in the hands of the establishment center, which, now in opposition can posture as the "reasonable" alternative. A Trump presidency, should it materialize, will undermine the burgeoning movement centered around the Sanders campaign, particularly if it is perceived as having minimized the dangers posed by the far right.


While i can see the merits of the argument, i'm still pretty much feeling that everyone can go eat a shit sandwich. Yes, she's the lesser of two evils, but at some point there has to be a line where their policies are just too far removed from your own that you can't choose either.

Trump says he doesn't believe in climate change so his support of fossil fuels is a less horrible action than Clinton's support of fracking when she does acknowledge climate change is real (the caveat being you can't actually believe anything Trump says he thinks or doesn't think). One is the action of a crazy moron. The other is a calculated action that says "Fuck you. There's profit to be had."

The one and only thing that i get hung up on is the impact on the most vulnerable. But then Clinton was shilling for her husband's the Welfare Reform Act in the 90s and i think "the most vulnerable will be in trouble no matter who wins."

Also, i'm super full of rage, so judgement impaired.

By min | July 29, 2016, 2:51 PM | Liberal Outrage


Min there's NEVER been a Democratic President that was pure enough for the Left and didn't have to make compromises. FDR only made the New Deal work with the help of Jim Crow Southerners, the various Cold War Presidents had to make compromises and you know about Obama...
Hillary is willing to take SOME steps to alleviate climate change, which is more than I can say for Trump. The perfect is the enemy of the good.
Re: Welfare Reform- what happened was that the Democrats proposed some relatively sensible changes to the welfare system, the Republicans instead sent draconian bills to the President, Clinton vetoed the first two but then it was an election year and he didn't want to risk vetoing the third because it was an election year, even though everyone that actually knew anything about welfare thought it would be a horrible bill. Yes, Hillary still refuses to apologize but it's highly unlikely that sequence of events will be repeated in the next 8 years.
As for the damage that a Trump Presidency could do, let's start with foreign policy. Do you really want Trump's finger on the button?
Trump has suggested we pull out of Nato unless our allies pay their "fair share". Putin could decide to invade Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, triggering a war.
Even worse, Trump has suggested that he might pull our troops out of South Korea- the result could be a Second Korean War, with millions dead.
And a Trump victory would legitimize open white supremacism. Do you really want to risk all of that?

If Clinton is "evil", then we don't have a word for what Trump is...

I'm going to make a stab at an argument for voting for Clinton, and then I'll never bring it up again, I swear, because I'm an internet stranger and I don't want to annoy you. Well, two arguments.

1. As an equal rights nut, in 2008 my biggest issue was marriage equality, and I was disappointed that Obama was on the other side of that one. He later "evolved", but it didn't really matter -- what mattered is his two Supreme Court appointees, who helped make marriage equality the law of the land (along with two Bill Clinton appointees). Thanks to Senate obstructionism, our next president gets to appoint a justice immediately, and RBG has hinted she'll retire soon. You might not love Hillary, but you want her court, not Trump's.

2. Maybe, like me, you're not in a swing state, so when it comes to who wins, your vote is inconsequntial. Well, what I'm hoping for this year is a trouncing so massive that it repudiates everything Trump stands for. I want to send a message to all our politicians that if they try to get ahead by preying on the worst aspects of our culture, we will ride them out of town on a rail. I want Trump to be a laughing stock for the rest of his life, and I want the rest of the world to see us reject him unequivocally. For that, popular vote will matter. I'm assuming you've discovered by now that Stein is anti-science, so a Clinton vote is really the only way to send that message.

“More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.” ― Woody Allen (I know, I know, but the quote is still apposite)

More seriously, historically it's been a lot easier to go from liberalism (in the classical sense) to something like social democracy than to go from far-right politics towards it. regardless of what Trump believes or does not believe, he's likely to either enact or enable far-right ideology at the federal level; he's already promoted overt white supremacism and helped make it acceptable, and there's little reason to believe his presidency wouldn't usher in an age of open ethno-nationalist extremism.

Four years of HRC means pushing for lefties in the midterms and primarying her (or her anointed successor) in 2020; four years of Donald Trump means millions more people hurt, a catastrophic economic collapse that means there will be *fewer* public goods to work with, and xenophobia and hatred as the law of the land for however many decades it takes for the two or more justices he appoints (or rubber-stamps) to die off.

There's a reason Sanders grudgingly endorsed Clinton instead of pursuing a third-party run; there's a reason he and people like Zephyr Teachout run as Democrats.

Put another way, this election season and the last couple of years more generally have made it reasonably clear that neoliberalism is a dead letter; the question now is what will replace it. Voting for Clinton is voting for the neoliberal candidate, but she's the last light of a dying ideology. A Trump victory is much more likely to solidify the alt-roght and all it stands for as the successor ideology/. Voting Clinton is buying time, in this sense.

You can always vote Johnson/Weld instead. If Hillary looks unable to beat Trump, I think they have a good chance of replacing her as the #2 choice, and defections from Republicans have a good chance at allowing him to beat Trump.

For a long time I thought Trump and Jeb were the only Republicans Hillary could beat this year, but now I increasingly believe Trump will win. Hillary is just an unlikable candidate, unpopular even within her own party (there would not have been two strong sudden challenges in both of her races if that was the case). She just has too many negatives to appeal to the voters. Outside a small core, most of her support is soft. I increasingly believe the only chance Trump can be defeated is if Hillary is abandoned and Johnson supported.

If Johnson can poll 20% of above, he can get into the debates which I think will begin the shift. He needs that forum to save the country from both of these terrible candidates.

I understand you are coming from a far left perspective (I wonder why I haven't seen a post recently on how great Chavismo is doing in Venezuela) and the Libertarian Party is outside your periscope, but two former moderate Republicans would be huge improvement on either Trump or Hillary.

@Chris, that's a...misguided analysis. Clinton has the advantage over Trump, big time. First of all, any Democrat would have an advantage over any Republican; there are 19 states that have voted for the Dems consistently in the last 6 presidential elections, for a near-guaranteed total of 242 electoral votes, just 28 votes (approx. one Florida) from the win.

This year the odds are even more in the Dems' favor. Clinton has a fantastic fundraising setup, a well-established ground game, and the voter database that Obama used to target specific demographics for the last eight years; Trump has none of that (the Koch bros won't even meet with him). Trump's only advantage is that he's getting help from Putin.

Johnson, meanwhile, won't crack ten percent; if he does better than 5, it'll be because he's stealing votes from Trump, not Clinton. He's not a serious contender. And no, most liberals would not agree that a moderate Republican is better than a disappointingly centrist Democrat.

What you want is to change the system to make it possible for there to be more than two viable choices, meaning either getting away from first-past-the-post plurality voting or encouraging third parties to focus on races they can actually win at lower levels instead of focusing on the presidency uber alles.