Why the Lesser-Evil Argument for Biden Sounds Hollow

It is evident that neither candidate is actually going to do anything substantive to save us from ecological catastrophe, writes Jonathan Cook.  

San Diego skyline against the smoke at sunrise, Oct. 23, 2007. (Kat Miner, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By JonathanCook

We are entering the final stages of the election to decide who will head the most powerful nation on Earth. That inevitably means the progressive and dissident left in the U.S. are again being deluged with arguments to vote for the lesser-evil candidate.

It has become such a standard left argument at election time that lesser evil voting even has its own acronym: LEV. Anyone who opposes Donald Trump’s re-election come November must set aside their concerns about – and if necessary their principles against – voting for the other main candidate on offer for U.S. president.

According to LEV, it is profoundly irresponsible and unethical for anyone on the left either to refuse to vote in November or to vote for a third, no-hope candidate because it risks aiding a Trump victory. Instead the left must cast a ballot – however uncomfortably – for the lesser evil candidate, which means Joe Biden, the former vice president and presumptive Democratic challenger.

This column is not going to make an argument for or against lesser evil voting, either in general or in the coming election. Everyone on the left must dig deep into their conscience and make a decision based on their assessment of how relatively evil Biden and Trump are, and whether that evil will be minimized by voting for Biden.

What I want to do instead is address why lesser evil arguments are sounding increasingly shrill and hollow to many on the left who fought so hard to earn Senator Bernie Sanders the Democratic nomination rather than Biden, but were once again stymied by the fervent opposition of the Democratic party leadership. These are the people chiefly targeted in the current round of lesser evil arguments.

If the proponents of LEV are going to succeed in persuading the Bernie left to turn out for Biden, in order to stop Trump, they are going to need to address the concerns of the Sanders’ camp much more clearly and articulately than they have done so far.

Don’t Wrestle with Pigs

One thing that is clear already is that the appeal of lesser-evil voting is becoming increasingly generational. Older leftists think it is self-evident that within an evil system you vote for the lesser evil candidate because small political differences can have big impacts, whether on domestic issues like social security, or on wars abroad, or on the future of the planet.

Their approach towards younger voters on the left who are not immediately impressed by this logic has often been to shame and insult them, labelling them as selfish, ideological purists or exemplars of white privilege. They have also indulged in what looks to many younger voters suspiciously like emotional blackmail, comparing Trump to Mussolini or Hitler.

To the younger left, things look a little more complex and paradoxical. They tend to see lesser-evil voting as an example of the chicken-and-egg problem. After all, given that the older left has been trotting out the lesser evil argument for decades, it looks suspiciously like LEV may have actually contributed to the entrenchment of an evil political system that made Trump’s election possible. Are the proponents of lesser-evil voting not creating the very conditions for political alienation that they then tout as a way to address the product – Trump – of that very political alienation?

If the U.S. has a cynical political system, deeply corrupted by money, younger voters wonder whether adding to that cynicism – with the left always voting for one of two evil candidates – can actually ever change the system or simply reinforces it. The older left has failed politically. But might one of the reasons be that for decades it has acted so cynically? Younger voters want to break with cynical politics. If the left is ever going to start looking more attractive, they argue, it needs to stop engaging cynically with a cynical system.

George Bernard Shaw’s maxim comes to mind: “Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”

Walmart or Costco?

Former Vice President Joe Biden, at left; U.S. President Donald Trump, at right.

Very much related to this is the concern that decades of voting for evil Democratic candidates mean the progressive left has not just failed to hold the line politically, election by election, but has actively lost ground, especially relative to the biggest problem facing humanity – the imminent end of most life on the planet. The clock is ticking fast, and it is evident that neither candidate is actually going to do anything substantive to save us from ecological catastrophe. The system is entirely owned and controlled by a plutocratic class, addicted to the expansion of its own wealth, even at the cost of our species’ survival.

Lesser evilism focuses on the candidates’ relative merits and depravities. But younger voters increasingly see that as misdirection. The two evil candidates reflect the depravities of the same evil plutocratic system. On this view, the candidates’ marginal differences are nothing more than exercises in marketing. Debating their merits in relation to the fundamental, existential questions facing us at the moment makes as much sense to younger voters as arguing whether Walmart or Costco offer a more ethical model of consumption.

Meanwhile, the two candidates on offer in this election are probably the most deficient and incompetent in U.S. history: one is a fire-breathing, posturing, delusional narcissist; the other the dried-out husk of a once smooth-talking, delusional narcissist. Each is proof that the evil system they are there to obscure has grown so sclerotic, so debased, that it can no longer produce credible salesmen.

Echoing the Establishment

The candidates’ qualities aside, the system sinks into ever greater depravity for reasons that seem obvious to the younger left: because the power-establishment knows that, however evil the two candidates on offer are, as long as one is ever so slightly less evil than the other it will be able to adduce mock-ethical arguments to strong-arm the left into legitimizing its evil system. To younger voters, when the left’s veterans make the lesser evil argument, they repeat precisely the arguments the evil system wants echoing. It is not a great look.

The power-establishment knows that it can drag the system towards greater evil – towards more corporate greed, towards more horrifying global wars, towards more planetary destruction – and still the left will be expected to consent to the system as long as one candidate is slightly less evil. All the system has to do is offer a candidate who can market him or herself as less evil than the other candidate.

What the lesser-evil argument has achieved over the past 40 years – entirely predictably – is the gradual shift in the center of political gravity ever further rightwards, towards unconcealed rule by the corporate class, towards Donald Trump.

Left Defeatism

The credibility of the older left’s lesser evil voting strategy is being severely tested right at this moment – and is being found disastrously wanting. With Biden the presumptive Democratic candidate, now is the time when the progressive left ought to be leveraging its electoral clout to get Sanders and his political allies positions inside a future Biden administration. This is the moment when the Sanders camp ought to be able to parlay their substantial voting bloc into influence over who is chosen as Biden’s vice-president and his senior cabinet ministers, as well as over the main planks of Biden’s platform.

But rather than seize this historic moment, the older left – including, tragically, Sanders himself – are using this period primarily to undermine the progressive left, by bullying them into submission to the Biden campaign whatever it decides to do.

This is a major reason the LEV strategy looks so discredited to the younger left. They know Biden has little chance of winning without their support. This should be the moment to play their hand with a poker-face, extracting as much as they can from Biden. But the older left is already throwing the left’s hand down, demanding at this critical juncture that the left get behind Biden, when Biden has offered nothing at all to the progressive left.

In these circumstances, lesser evil voting looks a lot like simple defeatism. It actually makes the older left, not the younger left, look like the selfish, privileged ones. They backed Sanders, and when he lost the nomination campaign they simply gave up mid-fight, as they have done decade after decade, putting the struggle off to another day. They behave as if there is all the time in the world (which may seem true to those who are in their twilight years). But the urgency of the deadline for radical change – maybe only a few years away – is hard for the younger left to ignore.

Trump the New Hitler?

Lesser-evil proponents have traditionally made their case based on an assumption of modest differences between the two candidates – typically, one is marginally better on inequality and welfare issues. But with Trump, the stakes, it is said, have been raised considerably. Some supporters of LEV argue that Trump is a new Hitler. As a result, everything – including abandoning one’s political principles – must be done to stop him.

There is, as already noted, the problem that, if Trump really is Hitler, then it looks very much like decades of lesser evil voting may have contributed to the entrenchment of an evil system that produced this new Hitler. But there is a further difficulty.

If everything must be done to stop Trump, the progressive left finds itself vulnerable to exactly the same kind of bogus “resistance” politics that so discredited the liberal-left and has actually strengthened Trump rather than undermined him. If progressives and dissidents need to join the effort to do anything and everything to stop Trump, then why not also get on board with the next entirely evidence-free scandal against him, the next “Russiagate?”

In fact, if Trump is Hitler and must be stopped at all costs, how is the progressive left supposed to distinguish itself from the ridiculous, political energy-sapping, self-sabotaging posturing of the liberal-left? The danger is the progressive left gets subsumed within the phony, Democratic-loyalist left rather than leading the left by example into a more effective politics of real resistance.

Bernie Sanders introducing legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, April 2017. (Sen. Bernie Sanders, Wikimedia Commons)

Refining the Struggle

There is a final, consciousness-raising issue for younger leftists to consider when deciding whether to reject entirely the evil U.S. system, even if it risks allowing Trump another four years. Many younger leftists wonder exactly what kind of evil system they live under and how they should best respond to it. Refusing to vote for one of the two evil candidates may be the only way they can decide for sure.

One possibility is that the U.S. is a deeply flawed democratic system, but still accountable to voters. If that is right, then withholding their consent from an evil Democratic candidate may finally serve as a corrective to the endless rightward shift of the political system towards greater evil.

If Sanders’ supporters reject voting for Biden, Biden is unlikely to win the election. The deeply corrupt Democratic party leadership will then be forced into crisis. If it really wishes to win, it will have to accommodate the left meaningfully to win back its support.

Had the left chosen this course 30 years ago, rather than listening to calls to vote for the lesser evil candidate, they wonder, might the Democratic Party have ever reached the nadir of foisting a cognitively challenged and morally compromised candidate like Biden on the party’s supporters?

If U.S. democracy still functions, might the Democratic leadership faced with a real rebellion by the left be forced gradually to concede ground to a leftist political agenda, creating a genuine ideological contest between the two parties?

Labour Threw an Election

The other possibility is that the U.S. system lost its democratic features in all but name some time ago, and is instead a straightforward plutocracy serving a wealth-elite. The two parties pretend to compete for votes only to make the electorate think it is still in charge.

If the U.S. is a plutocracy, the political system will be largely indifferent as to whether the left is prepared to vote for Biden or not. Because in a two-party plutocracy, both parties represent the same interests – the corporate elite’s. They are simply branded differently to delude voters into thinking the system is democratic.

Younger voters have increasing reasons to suspect that the latter assessment is right. They can, for instance, look across the Atlantic to the recent experience of the UK, which has a similar two-party system.

An internal report leaked last month revealed that Labour Party bosses — Britain’s version of the Democratic National Committee — intentionally threw the 2017 general election to stop the party’s then leader, Jeremy Corbyn, from winning power against an increasingly far-right Conservative Party. The party bureaucrats felt compelled to sabotage their own candidate after they had failed two years earlier to prevent Labour members from electing Corbyn — the U.K.’s version of Sanders – as leader.

In other words, the permanent bureaucracy of the supposedly leftwing Labour Party felt it had more in common with the ultra-rightwing Conservatives than with its own democratic socialist leader.

Is the Democratic Party machine, which has now twice done everything in its power to stop Sanders, a democratic socialist, becoming the party’s presidential candidate, really so different from the U.K. Labour Party machine?

Bogus Political Fights

If the U.S. is really a two-party plutocracy, the Democratic leadership will do everything it can to stop a candidate (Sanders) who might threaten plutocratic rule, even if that means installing a weak and incompetent candidate (Biden) who risks losing to an ostensible opponent (Trump). In this kind of system, voters’ attention must be channeled into bogus political fights over barely distinguishable candidates rather than a real struggle over ideology.

Does that not sum up rather precisely what we have watched unfold over the last six months in the U.S.?

So for young leftists, not voting for Biden may help to resolve their own uncertainty about whether the U.S. system is redeemable or not. It is the step they feel they need to take to educate themselves and their peers on whether their energies should be directed chiefly at fighting the Democratic Establishment or abandoning the system entirely and taking to the streets.

The problem with lesser-evil voting for them is that rather than clarify the next course of action it simply obfuscates. It leaves it unclear whether the political pendulum can be made to swing back towards the left or whether the system needs to be destroyed entirely.

The lesser evil argument rests on the false assumption that we are not already in a time of revolution – if not a political revolution, certainly an ecological one. The planet is about to throw up our house of cards, our civilization, and violently reorder it for us.

In these circumstances, the left faces a very difficult choice indeed: between risking a delayed response by putting a better face on humanity’s plight by installing the slightly less evil candidate, and facing the present and the future directly, in all its terrifying, enervating depravity, in an almost-certainly violent struggle to take back into our own hands our fate as a species.

Which is the better course? There are no easy answers. To argue otherwise, as too many proponents of lesser evil voting do, may ultimately prove to be the more foolish option.

Jonathan Cook is a freelance journalist based in Nazareth.

This article is from his blog Jonathan Cook.net. 

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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67 comments for “Why the Lesser-Evil Argument for Biden Sounds Hollow

  1. evelync
    June 1, 2020 at 11:14

    FWIW the arguments have been framed by the MSM as socialism vs capitalism.
    Using Cold War rhetoric as a social control mechanism.
    It’s a faux argument IMO.
    What we have now is not capitalism. The father of capitalism, Adam Smith believed in regulation, a level playing field, transparency and an uncountable number of interactions between individual decision makers who comprised the “invisible hand”….

    If he came back today he would be in shock because our opaque, corrupt, compromised, schemes to transfer wealth using bought and payed for government that writes laws to serve their “masters” the powerful oligarchs is the antithesis of what he believed would work. It is a brittle unsustainable destabilizing economy.

    We have opaque predatory thievery stealing from working people shifting wealth to the top.

    So we do not have capitalism but a destabilizing unsustainable mess.

    Corrupt institutions and government serve an elite segment and everyone else is fair game.

    We know that left to their own devices, the best and the brightest make mistakes (Vietnam War) just like the rest of us but they do it on a grand scale and should not have the power to push policies that always seem to serve the short term financial interests of the MICIMATT

  2. dean 1000
    June 1, 2020 at 10:23

    Refusing to vote to protest the presence of Evil and Lesser Evil on the ballot is like refusing to breathe or eat apple pie because Evil and LE do it.

    Make your protest against Evil official by voting for a 3rd party, independent, or write-in candidate. Back when my state ballot didn’t have a Write-In line on the ballot, I drew a little square box w/a magic marker, put a check mark in it and wrote in the name of a presidential candidate that was not on the ballot.

    More and More states are putting a write-in line on the presidential ballot and for all the candidates on the so-called down ballot. A Write-In line is more rational than “None of the Above” as it lets the voter write-in the name of a person s/he thinks is worthy of holding a public office. The Bernie and Tulsi supporters can protest evil by voting for the candidate of their choice.
    If you want to do a Brazil, write-in Yogi Bear & Boo-Boo or Big Bird & Kermit the Frog. Those who do not cast a vote against evil are condoning it.

    It is not that Biden will be worse than Trump. He is likely to be as bad. If Trump is reelected he will not need the anti-war and anti-imperialist conservatives anymore. He is as likely to go over to the dark side and start another unwinnable war as Biden. We do not deserve such a terrible choice/ultimatum.

    I agree with those who say the down ballot is very important this year. Vote against evil and vote the down ballot.

    • Diki Discreet
      June 1, 2020 at 22:45

      The less people that vote, the more harshly it “may” reflect on the state.
      Unless those books are cooked on voting numbers as well.
      Apathy isn’t the answer, but neither is naive idealism.
      I can no longer see how anyone can even consider voting when u only have 2 horrifying options. A third option might be worthwhile. It ‘s possible. They would have to be of the highest integrity otherwise I would imagine they would fall into line with the same stride as the 2 so called parties you already have.
      However, from what I have read, lived and experienced, you only have one Party (the establishment party. Where all decisions are planned and carried out long before elections take place.

      Its time for a complete overhaul!. Not more of the same in a different or more politically correct manner. . A rebranding, or reshuffling of people as products of policies. This old advertising trick is really just selling us the same old shit with a suave new name. Also their guarantees are not worth the paper they are written on, so why would I buy from any of them? Not sane really.

      No! It’s time to dismantle, and rebuild from the ground up. If that is what a third party is sincerely about then I am interested. Until this is the plan, U.S democracy is a complete farce. Just like ours. I think it’s time to wake up and smell the violence all around us.
      The system is corrupt and voting either way will not make any difference to the real discrimination that
      is offered by the Capitalism from both parties. Financial discrimination.
      A ballot.
      A difference?… Not bloody likely…
      Not until a candidate offers something honest and real.
      This system reminds me of how children vote at school.
      Still just a popularity contest that is ongoing……
      Anyway these are just words. Somewhat meaningless in the end without any action.
      Good day

    • evelync
      June 2, 2020 at 10:23

      Jill Stein says that the lesser evil argument becomes a moot point if only we had the opportunity on the ballot to have a 1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice etc for all offices.
      The 2000 fiasco suggests to me that she’s correct….

      Although there was so much more wrong with 2000 – butterfly ballot; Gore NOT calling for state wide recount but cherry picking the recount; and more….

  3. dean 1000
    June 1, 2020 at 09:41

    Refusing to vote to protest the presence of evil and lesser evil on the ballot is like refusing to breathe or eat apple pie because evil and lesser evil do it.

    Make your protest of evil official by voting for a 3rd party, independent, or write in candidate. Back when my state didn’t have a write-in line on the ballot, I drew a little square box with a magic marker, put a check mark in it and wrote in the name of a presidential candidate that was not on my state ballot.

    More and more states are putting a write-in line on the presidential ballot and for all the offices on the so-called down ballot. A write-in line is more rational than ‘None of the Above.’ It gives the voter an opportunity to write-in the name of a candidate s/he thinks is worthy of holding a public office. The Bernie and Tulsi supporters can protest evil and LE by voting for the candidate of their choice.
    If you want to do a Brazil, write-in “Yogi the Bear & Boo-Boo” or “Big Bird & Kermit the Frog.” Those who do not cast a vote against evil are condoning it.

    It is not that Biden will be worse than Trump. He is likely to be as bad. If Trump is reelected, he will not need the anti-war, anti-imperialist conservatives anymore. He can go over to the dark side and start another unwinnable war as easily as Biden. We do not deserve such a terrible choice. It is really an ultimatum rather than a choice. Give yourself a real vote by writing in your choice.

    I agree with those who say the down ballot is very important this year. Vote against evil and vote the down ballot.

    • June 1, 2020 at 22:04

      @ “It is not that Biden will be worse than Trump. He is likely to be as bad.”

      Biden is a pig-in-a-poke candidate. His mental capacity is so diminished that it is not plausible that the intent is for him to make the decisions should he elected. In my mind, that leaves three major possibilities: [i] Biden withdraws his candidacy shortly before the Democratic Party convention so that another candidate can be ushered in; [ii] Biden will not make a serious effort to win the presidency; or [iii] some undisclosed person or persons will be making decisions for him if he is elected.

      Thus far, he seems to be acting on option [ii]. He is not actively campaigning. But exercising option [ii] does not rule out either of the other two possibilities. Only time will tell.

      Biden’s candidacy is a whopper of an insult to the intelligence of American voters. I thought little of the intelligence of those voters myself when they elected a movie actor to the high office; I thought less of their intelligence when they elected the former head of the CIA. And still less when the simpleton George the Lesser took office. Then the Democrats entered that appeal to ignorance contest by offering the warmonger Hillary Clinton, leaving a choice between a narcissist and certain war. Now the Democrats move the bar still lower, offering a barely-still-walking case of advanced dementia as their candidate.

      And this is the process in which we are urged to stamp as legitimate with our vote? No, thank you. I shall not vote for either Trump or Biden.

  4. Diki Discreet
    May 31, 2020 at 23:00

    THE PARTY- “there can b only one”, but we will pretend there is Two.

    From a distance, in the fairy tale world of OZ,
    Where our democratic illusion reflects your own.
    I have come to realize, there is no lesser evil.
    There is only evil in your two choices.
    The evil is the establishment (The Party).
    If u think one party is less evil than the others perhaps
    ask yourself am I falling for the establishment’s plan?
    There can only b one!
    One winner “The Wealthy owners of the establishment”
    I will only vote for change.
    Therefore, I do not vote.
    I often ponder if Sanders and Gubbard belong to “The Party” as well.
    They have both endorsed the party the way I see it.
    Lies can become truth so easily.
    Sadly, democrazy is another one of these.
    Have a nice day..
    Diki D.

  5. JeanDavid8
    May 31, 2020 at 22:03

    Time to write-in another Rhinoceros?


  6. Johann Sebastian
    May 30, 2020 at 16:03

    What people fail to understand is that voting merely legitimizes an illegitimate system.
    I believe it is every citizen’s patriotic duty to NOT vote.
    Imagine if only 10% of the electorate voted?
    It would be hard to claim any sort of mandate or to say that the Federal government has the consent on the governed.
    Americans, left and right, all believe the same mirage, namely that the US government is basically good or can be reformed.
    Of course, this is outside the frame of acceptable debate, but there it is.
    It cannot and must end, for the sake of the planet and the species.
    Please, do take offense, as this only proves my point that this is outside the scope of acceptable debate.
    The US Federal government needs to return to what was envisioned by the Founders, namely a loose association of independent and sovereign states.

    • May 31, 2020 at 11:08

      I sincerely believe in voting for Sanders anyway in the November ballot. I absolutely advocate everyone do the same. In
      the last election many who voted for trump said they would have voted for Sanders if he had been the candidate!

    • Jonathan
      May 31, 2020 at 15:44

      If you want the federal government “to return to what was envisioned by the founders,” then how can you advocate not voting? The founding fathers envisioned and intended for the populace to participate in elections.

  7. John
    May 30, 2020 at 14:57

    I’ve decided not to vote at all this election. I’ve usually voted my conscience, including my first election in 1980. I’ve voted for the Democratic candidate twice or possibly three times and regretted it later. Not that I thought that my vote was consequential, but that I was suckered or betrayed my principles. I grew up with tales of vote cheating, of dead people supposedly voting, but it’s only been the last twenty years when it has really registered in my head that it was an actual large scale problem. Despite lots of evidence of voter disenfranchisement, of proprietary black box voting and vote counting machines, of vote reporting irregularities that defy logic, there is almost zero effort to make transparent voting and vote counting a priority. It’s a sucker’s bet.

    As for a landslide victory of one of the parties over the other, sure it’s possible, but they’re not going to actually kill off the other party. If 80% of the Democrat base dropped out, the Republicans would ignore that fact and ‘take it to’ the remaining Dems as if nothing had changed. And vice versa. If the Washington Generals lost their three best players, the Harlem Globetrotters would just hire three more bodies and keep up the act. They need us to get all amped about that sonofabitch on the other team. That’s why Bernie wouldn’t be allowed as the Dem nom: his populism is popular. That’s why the Republican-supporting voting machine manufacturers allow the DNC to rig Dem primaries. We have to be corralled into voting between vanilla and French vanilla.

    It’s also why there are reports of agents provocateurs smashing windows and trying to move the crowds of protestors to more property damage and violence. It has to look as unreasonable and dangerous as possible to the pool of vanilla/French vanilla voters. Revolting has to look, well, revolting. And then voting is offered up as the ultimate act of freedom, democracy, courage and decency. It’ll be interesting to see if that kabuki still distracts enough to save the oligarchy.

  8. Trisha
    May 30, 2020 at 14:19

    Here’s something to consider: Biden is NOT the “lesser evil”, he’s as bad – I would say WORSE – than Trump. The list of Biden’s crimes is far longer and far deadlier than Trump’s, and he’s presided over the economic conquest of the country by the wealthy while enabling deep economic destruction of workers and now the middle class.

    As a Vietnam vet, a vote for Biden is a vote for the Iraq war (plus all the wars launched by Nobel “peace prize” winner Obama) and all its horrors. The huge number of Democrat voting for Biden demonstrates deep moral debasement.

  9. Cara MariAnna
    May 30, 2020 at 13:23

    Thank you Jonathan Cook. One of your best yet and that’s saying something. I voted lesser evil for nearly 40 years and the evil grew and intensified. I didn’t voted for Hillary and I’ll never vote for Biden. I regret having voted for Obama. After witnessing what was done to Sanders in 2016 and seeing the nakedly exposed corruption of the DNC and Democratic establishment I broke my party affiliation. Watching what was done to Sanders this time – and acknowledging the many mistakes he made – watching Obama pull off his despicable Super Tuesday coup I want to see the Democratic party dismantled, destroyed, burned to the ground. The Democrats cannot be reformed or pushed left. They are the loyal servants of the plutocratic class. Hell, Pelosi is a plutocrat. As you say…time is running out.

    Maybe it’s time some our plutocrats were taken into custody under citizen’s arrest and put on trial for crimes against the commons and the environment, for theft of the treasury. A woman can dream…

  10. bardamu
    May 30, 2020 at 12:27

    Hear! Hear!

    Imagine running a political party on some pretext of humanitarianism and then running militarist profiteers, eventually undermining one’s own primaries to do so.

    Imagine afterwards trying to shame people for not voting for your candidate. Imagine keeping this up for thirty years.

    Tip the king.

  11. Vera Gottlieb
    May 30, 2020 at 11:11

    And the lesser of two evils is still evil…

  12. Eddie S
    May 30, 2020 at 08:49

    If we progressives/leftists limit ourselves to voting for one of the current two(2) parties, then it’s either a quick death (Trump) or ‘death by a thousand cuts’ as far as any progressive policies being enacted. If progressives vote for conservative Democrats every time based on a LEV strategy, what possible motivation would the conservative Dems have to embrace any progressive ideas when they know they can always coerce the left into voting for them? They would instead move MORE to the right to poach some ‘moderate’ Republican votes and because that may-well be where their true political views reside (think HRC or BO).

    But sadly I fear all this debate is just ‘rearranging the deck chairs in the Titanic’ because the US was virtually founded on greed, violence, religious fundamentalism, & racism — it’s in our cultural DNA.. Those traits were over-represented in the early European ‘discoverers’ and ‘settlers’ who risked death and unknown dangers during a risky voyage and subsequent settlement in early America — one had to have a strong motivation to do something that dangerous. So appealing to our ‘better angels’ as progressives try to do will unfortunately only appeal to a small percentage (I would subjectively estimate ~15%) of the US voters. Sure, high percentages of people in the US will tell pollsters they believe in many individual progressive policies (see the ‘Bradley effect’), but then they will usually crush any liberal/progressive candidates—recall George McGovern losing 48 of 50 states in ‘72, or Jimmy Carter’s re-election campaign suffering a similar outcome in ‘80. After moderate Democrats were defeated in POTUS elections in ‘84 & ‘88, the Dems moved right and found success with Bill Clinton and later Obama.
    It appears to me that this country will only try progressive policies as a last resort—when we’ve first exhausted all the bad options—and will then often slowly abandon those positive solutions to make a quick buck.

  13. Francis Lee
    May 30, 2020 at 07:35

    Lesser evilism has for some time past and present been used to hobble any real challenge to American control over western European states. This is particularly the case with foreign policy and economic issues. In the UK this has been the case since 1946, when having procured a US loan it was reduced to a prostrate member of the American empire. Today this banana monarchy also kowtows to a non-elected permanent Head of State, a permanent non-elected upper chamber (The House of Lords) and a First Past the Post voting system, which means a party with only 35% of the vote can form a government.

    These episodic ‘Left’ governments, and broader liberal establishments are also characteristic of the centre-left across Europe, most nearly all which have been co-opted and integrated into the US dominated institutions, NATO the World Bank, World Trade Organization. These are essentially Petainist/Vichy regimes who duly carry out their duties of implementing policies of US Transnational Corporations, Big Pharma, Big Oil, the MIC, 5-eyes, and the all-powerful zionist lobby. European states are de facto no longer sovereign in the true meaning of the word, but have been transformed into a cringing vassal outpost of the US empire.

    This is summed in by the remarks of one Filipo Turati a PSI (Italian Socialist Party) against the intimidation by Mussolini’s blackshirt goon-squads in the early 20th century. He ordered everyone to keep calm uttering the (in)famous words: ‘We must have the courage to be cowards” – A motto suited to the liberal-left whenever the master in DC cracks the whip. This just about sums up the liberal-left in our own time.

    P.S. And don’t even let me get started on Eastern Europe.

  14. mbob
    May 30, 2020 at 01:29

    I may vote for Hitler because I’m sure not voting for Mengele. LEV has gotten us to the point where assessing relative degrees of evil is akin to determining the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.

    Perhaps, if Trump is re-elected, that will be our last ever election and the end of the United States. If that happens, we deserve it. I won’t cry over the end of a failed state, regardless of the promise it might once have had.

    Or, perhaps there will be another election even if Trump is re-elected. In that case, the Democratic party will be long gone. After all, any political party that loses to Trump twice has no right or reason to exist. The end of the Democratic party is, to my mind (as a formerly loyal Democrat of over 40 years) an unalloyed blessing. It’s the only good thing that can possibly come out of the next election. (Not that the Republican party is worth anything either, but you have to start someplace.)

    But, if Biden is elected, the Democratic party will continue to endure and our choices next time will be even poorer than they are now. I prefer to be bold, to risk catastrophe, and to give us a slight chance at a real future.

    The rock climber Aron Ralston cut off his arm to free himself and save his life. That’s the same choice our country faces. End the Democratic party now or lose everything.

  15. Atul Thakker
    May 29, 2020 at 23:57

    The US public is just like the Palestinians, shepherded by the Democratic Party ( Abbas ) into the bidding of Republicans ( Likud ).
    A similar metaphor works for Australia being shepherded into the US orbit despite their meal ticket being cashed in China.
    The US gets countries and it’s own people to go against their self interest to serve their US power master.

  16. A Reader
    May 29, 2020 at 23:20

    This does not address Cook’s argument, but those interested in a thorough, data-based prediction of possible harm due to psychopathy of the incumbent can read the article by a psychotherapist at

    An hour’s read, but covers the topic more thoroughly than anything I have seen since 2016.

  17. lfc
    May 29, 2020 at 23:02

    A window for a peaceful resistance or protest is closing fast due to the new innovations such as the drones, the digital contact tracings and the NSA surveillances. If not now, when?

  18. lfc
    May 29, 2020 at 22:57

    A window for a peaceful resistance might be closing due to the drones, the digital tracings, the NSA surveillance and the armed civilian militia. If not now, when?

  19. sig
    May 29, 2020 at 22:09

    The DNC would have Bernie just “go away.” Yet, Bernie is still gathering delegates and aims to influence the Dem. platform. He’s still out there and in a messed up world can still make a difference. Progress has always been an uphill battle. You deal with the cards you’ve got.

  20. Tom Kath
    May 29, 2020 at 20:56

    Unfortunately, the “SYSTEM” seems to include everyone in or out of it. There IS no candidate or person anywhere that can hold the “right” priorities for everyone. Jonathon thinks the critical issue is the environment, someone else thinks it is preventing war, another thinks corporate power is the main problem, not to mention those who think it is all about women’s power, or population management, wealth inequality, health care, lockdown policy, or the cruel treatment of stray cats.
    Each and every issue is now socially divisive, leaving possibly thousands of potential combinations for/against, each venomously opposed to all the others.
    How can anyone vote meaningfully when it is so unclear what the real important issue is?

  21. Jeff Harrison
    May 29, 2020 at 20:16

    I will not vote for Joe Biden. He is a corrupt, war mongering, apparatchik. Democrats ran off the rails when George McGovern lost to Tricky Dick. Thereafter the Democrats became the also ran party who’s main claim to fame was that they weren’t as bad as the Republicans. But after St. Ronnie was elected all the “moderate” Republicans infested the Democrat party. I finally figured out what was going on by the ’92 election and started voting 3rd party. I had one brief flash of hope with Obama only to discover that he was not a leader and he wasn’t a democrat.

  22. May 29, 2020 at 20:12

    John Drake
    May 29, 2020 at 14:30
    Interesting: “This column is not going to make an argument for or against lesser evil voting…” then Mr Cook proceeds to spend the whole article presenting- ta da, arguments for and against lesser evil voting.

    There is not contradiction in terms of game theory. The best response is often randomized. In practical political context, there is an inevitability of loosing a segment of voters by manipulating a primary win of a candidate who is well past his “best use before date”, neurologically and programatically. On the other hand, party solidarity is valuable, to some degree. It is instructive to check about PUMA in wikipedia, when Obama won primaries over Clinton, fanatical centrists organized a PAC under preliminary acronym “Party Unity My Arse”, replaced with “People United for something”, aiming to prevent the election of Obama.

    In my opinion, it took some time for Obama to be absorbed by “Washington consensus”, less than a year. Anyway, splintered left-of-center is doomed, but plutocratic-imperialist domination of the party devalues the unity. So there are points for LEV and against, and people should make their own decisions.

    For better or worse, Sanders is past his “best use date” too, but not as tragically as Biden. I read a consumer advise that for many types of products going past that date is not going to kill you or send to the hospital, but even flour, honey or vegetable oil should not be kept more than 5 years (?).

  23. DH Fabian
    May 29, 2020 at 19:20

    Seems so pointless. We wasted 25 years patiently trying to explain to middle class Democrats just how deep that split in the former Dem voting base was growing. From the day Obama was elected, we repeatedly pointed out that it was the last chance to turn things around, reversing the Democrat Party’s years of pro-war/anti-poor legislation. Turns out, they didn’t hear a word of it.

  24. May 29, 2020 at 19:16

    Bravo, Jonathan. You’ve hit the mark.

    I’ve added a link for your article here to many others on the subject of Lesser Evil voting collected following my own essay on that topic.


    (change “XX” to “tt”)

  25. jo6pac
    May 29, 2020 at 18:20

    I stopped the voting for the lesser of 2 evils a long time ago. I’m 74 and since dnc was able to stop Bernie I’ll be voting Green again.

    Please think about removing the Walmart vs Costco. Costco pays real wages, benefits, has unions, and the CEO makes around $500,000 per yr unlike the Walmart clan whos employees need govt programs to live do bad wages mostly part time with no health care

    • Daniel P
      May 31, 2020 at 07:59

      I agree about Walmart vs. Costco. An unintentionally off-the-mark metaphor, perhaps, in an otherwise excellent piece.

  26. Annie
    May 29, 2020 at 17:23

    I supported Bernie Sanders in his run for the presidency in 2016, and was disturbed that when he lost to Clinton he supported her. Why did he? She represents the non-liberal, pro-war, corporate, wall street democrat he rails against in his speeches. I didn’t vote in 2016. Many suggested I vote for the lesser of the two evils, Hilary. but if I did then I would have disempowered my self, and empowered her, which would allow her to go on doing the same thing, that is ignoring the needs of those that voted for her, while she continued to support the militaristic, corporate America that owns her.

    • DH Fabian
      May 29, 2020 at 20:17

      Bit of history: The Reagan Democrats of the 1980s leaned further to the right to merge with the Clinton “New Democrat Party” of the 1990s. In a nutshell, they have sold right wing politics to the beat of a rock and roll song, marketed to middle class liberals via a range of faux “progressive” media (perhaps most successfully, MSNBC).

      Sen. Sanders had been firmly on the left for many years. He used to support democratic socialism, a system that ensures modest (but livable) incomes for those left jobless. As such, he had advocated for sound poverty relief (welfare) programs. But times have changed. Democrats ended basic relief in the 1990s, and the Obama years confirmed that this is permanent. By 2016, Sanders had dropped his support for democratic socialism, to campaign to middle class Democrats. He no longer even acknowledges anyone worse off than minimum wage workers, in a country where job losses l0ng surpassed job gains. To sum it up, he picked up middle class support and lost much of his former base.

  27. May 29, 2020 at 17:14

    The simple fact is that the die has been cast. Like it or not, we have two choices – Biden or Trump and the relative merits of the two are vastly different and obvious. Any debate at this juncture about the lesser of 2 evils is a waste of time and energy. It’s a simple choice of one or the other and the outcome of the election in November will clearly tell the world what kind of nation the USA really is.

    I can only hope that those who care for honesty and decency outnumber those who spew hatred and lies. We shall see.

    • May 29, 2020 at 22:06

      @ “It’s a simple choice of one or the other and the outcome of the election in November will clearly tell the world what kind of nation the USA really is.”

      We’ll tell the world that we want to be led by: [i] a sociopathic narcissist with non-existent impulse control; [ii] an octogenarian opponent of civil rights suffering from rapidly-advancing dementia; [iii] a third-party candidate; or none of the above. The post-election polls will tell the tale on what issues cost either the election as will the strength of third parties in the election results.

      The choice is not binary, as you suggest. There are the options of voting for a third-party candidate, for Mickey Mouse, or not voting at all. And indeed, it is the people who fall for the choice of two evils fallacy who are directly responsible for the Democratic Party’s shift to the right over the the last few decades. See M.J. Piety, On Wasting Your Vote. CounterPunch (October 12, 2012):

      “Albert Einstein is reputed to have said that the greatest invention in human history was compound interest. I beg to differ. I think it’s the “lesser of two evils” argument. It’s brilliant. Give people two options, neither of which they find appealing, convince them that a third option, a genuinely attractive one, is just not practicable and that they must thus choose between the bad and the worse, and you’ll be able to get them to choose something they would never otherwise choose.

      “You can get people to do anything that way. You start by offering them a choice between something that is just marginally unpleasant and something that is really repellent. Once you’ve gotten them to choose the marginally unpleasant, you raise the bar (just a little mind you, you don’t want them to catch on to what you’re doing). Now you offer them a choice between something to which they have really strong objections and something that is deeply offensive. Most people, of course, will choose the former, if they think it’s either that or the latter. Now you offer people who’ve become inured to living under objectionable conditions a choice between even worse conditions and something that is truly unthinkable. It’s not mystery what they will choose.”

      And thus the Democratic Party dropped its support for Labor, for Peace, and for the common good. All because people fell for the choice of two evils fallacy.

      The choice of two evils fallacy put the worst warmonger in U.S. history, Barack Obama, in office. See Glenn Greenwald, To Defend Iran Deal, Obama Boasts That He’s Bombed Seven Countries (August 6, 2015). Mr. Obama also bailed out corporations from their real estate equities debacle in the hundreds of billions of dollars, but not a cent for the homeowners who lost their homes.

      Who do we have to thank? That would be those voters who fell for Obama’s choice of two evils fallacy, who have the blood of hundreds of thousands on their hands, yet unapologetically wish for the return of those days.

      Having experienced war first hand in Viet Nam, I know beyond any doubt that voting for warmongers is immorality of the highest order. Yet these Lesser of Two Evilers still insist that I choose between two warmongers. Not in 2020, buddy; not in any year. Bring me a Peace candidate if you want my vote. One who is not suffering from dementia and one with a far better civil rights record than Joe Biden.

      Who would really be making the decisions should Biden be elected? If you can’t answer that question, please go away and stop bothering me.

    • b.grand
      May 30, 2020 at 01:48

      Oh, come on! You’re saying Biden represents honesty and decency? Biden who facilitated war on Iraq? Biden who ran the coup plot in Ukraine? Biden who was VP cheering the rape of Russia in the 90’s, rode the Russiagate bandwagon of anti-diplomacy, and now joins the chorus of anti-China rhetoric?

      Usually I vote 3rd party to register my disapproval, but in Covid-times I may just stay home.

    • torture this
      May 30, 2020 at 09:04

      Everybody except party Democrats want honesty and decency but Joe Biden offers neither.

    • TimN
      May 30, 2020 at 09:42

      No, “we” have a 3rd choice–not voting. You’re making the Lesser Evil argument, and fooling yourself into thinking you’re not. A common practice.

    • None of the Above
      May 30, 2020 at 12:20

      Biden hatred: “If you have a problem figuring out if you’re for me of Trump, then you ain’t black.”

      Biden lies: too many to count.

      When you believe that “the die is cast” you preclude your ability to make a rational choice. US politics is about divide and conquer. As long as we are busy fighting each other we won’t join together to fight the system.

      The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    • Benny Profane
      May 30, 2020 at 14:14

      Are you suggesting that Joe Biden represents “honesty and decency”?

  28. rosemerry
    May 29, 2020 at 17:02

    I am not an American, but I really find that the DNC-led, Plutocratic Pelosi type comfortable rich Democratic Party élite whose interests seem allied to GOP values would much rather have Trump in power than a real down-to-earth candidate like Bernie Sanders who would threaten their lifestyle by helping the poor, the powerless and even the environment. He is little different in foreign policy (what American is?? ) but what he offers is popular (like the policies of Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, which the UK “Labour Party” élite could not stomach, and tossed him out. Look at previous examples of the Democrats in the USA-this deferring to the GOP is not new.

  29. gnarleyscuz
    May 29, 2020 at 16:42

    “If the U.S. is really a two party plutocracy…” Is that a serious question? The legal power assigned corporations and their representatives has grown consistently while voters have been marginalized, handed choices that were already largely decided by the former. Lesser evil logic has prolonged the charade for the past 70 years.
    But even Chomsky has acknowledged that 2020 bears a qualitatively different risk. Trump and the Republicans have stripped away critical regulations designed to protect the integrity of the air, water and land. From trying to reinvigorate a decrepit, toxic coal industry to rolling back auto manufacturers’ mpg requirements to ridiculously low standards that the manufacturers did NOT request. Then withdrawing from the Paris Accords, and ramping up an unnecessary investment in nuclear arms…Critical monies wasted, that need to be put toward shrinking our carbon signature and kick-starting green manufacturing.
    Narcissist Biden is a pathetic option, but the wholesale indifference to every and any thing that does not benefit Donald Trump has got to stop ASAP.

    • Anna
      May 30, 2020 at 10:46

      The lady doth protest too much.

      Americans have been muzzled by the democrats-supporting media giants like Facebook, Google, the NYT, and other CIA-handled organs of control and disinformation. The honest Unz Review has become the latest victim.
      Currently, the US is a geriatric kleptocracy in service to the Military-Industrial Complex.

      You announce that you care about the environment: How about the use of depleted uranium by the victorious American army in Falluja, Iraq? Bush the lesser (Cheney’s toy-boy) had started the mass slaughter, and the oh-so-democratic Obama expanded the war of aggression to Libya and Syria. Millions of innocent civilians were murdered, including a multitude of children of all ages. But that was OK for the sanctimonious Clinton and Obamas and other incomparable humanitarians that popped-up during Russiagate.

      Don’t’ you like the liberation of Ukraine by US ziocons, in cooperation with Ukrainian neo-Nazi? (By the way, Monsanto has already moved to Ukraine). Since 2014 (Obama time), under US control, Ukraine had become the poorest and the most corrupt country in Europe. And yet, there is always money to bring American weaponry to Ukraine to insult the nuclear-armed neighbor Russia.

      The US is a property of the MIC, whichever POTUS.

    • June 2, 2020 at 01:49

      @ “But even Chomsky has acknowledged that 2020 bears a qualitatively different risk.”

      That is nothing new for him. Chomsky has championed Lesser Evilism in favor of the Democratic Party candidate in presidential elections at least since the 2004 election. When it comes to obtaining a more progressive government, Chomsky is part of the problem, not the solution.

  30. AnneR
    May 29, 2020 at 15:58

    Mr Cook you are too much of an optimist: neither the US nor the UK could, in all honesty, be considered a true democracy, and the US even less than the UK because of the Electoral College (a deliberate mechanism to prevent the voice of the people – the ordinary, working classes – from really affecting the structure of the American class system).

    And of course neither side/face of the Janus party – in truth there is only ONE with two slightly different facades – is worth voting for. And the fact that we, the citizenry, have no other really existing choice, possibility (let alone more than one other) further underlines how this is not a democracy, even of the representative sort. So one is left with either not voting or writing in candidates or, perhaps, voting for the Greens. All these options equaling the same thing: nada effective.

    Vis a vis your assertions (not that you are the only person to assert this on these or other similar sites) re: age and affiliation to the DNC/so-called Left (there is NO Left here). Once again I’m a bit miffed at being lumped in with the bourgeois – old or young – who advocate voting for the LE. Believe you me, it really isn’t only the Boomer gens. There are younger folks out there, well-educated, bourgeois in background if not in present existence who “in-your-face” push LEV down the throats of those of us who want NEITHER ar**hole in the WH. And we who refuse to vote for either “candidate” are accused, nastily, of really being Strumpet supporters at worst or enablers at best.

    If NO ONE voted or the vast majority who wanted REAL change, change pro-the ordinary, working class people, anti-war, MIC, Pentagon, for MFA folks wanted – wouldn’t vote LEV ….Perhaps, Maybe, Possibly things might change. But why do I think it will take more than that….?

    • May 29, 2020 at 16:52

      Right, Anne, it’s offensive to be lumped into a group. In my life I’ve never fit into the age group I was being lumped into. Ever. What’s good about this forum is Consortium News is the one place where one can find well written articles on the issues of the day. I don’t know what it would take to get the Green Party to be elected….perhaps when enough elected senators and representatives decide to switch parties and join the third party. Bernie switched to the Dems to run and I wish he hadn’t.

    • b.grand
      May 30, 2020 at 02:52

      Things are changing…. but, for the better? Here’s a tweet from Michael Tracey:

      “Please be advised that the United States is a hegemonic power in steep decline and stuff like this “[the Minneapolis riots] is inevitable — will only get worse.”

      I’d like to have some optimism, but if we needed any more proof of how suggestible, manipulable, superficial we humans are, these Corona Days have provided it. My hopes for a serious “populist” (don’t like that term, but it’s the closest thing on the market) movement have been dashed. I appreciate your posts, but have no faith that the ‘çitizenry’ would make better choices than the electoral college. Have you ever heard what ‘typical Americans’ say on radio call-in shows? Anywhere from C-SPAN to Breitbart, plenty of lunacy. Decades of misinformation and propaganda have taken their toll, all while stroking ignorant egos. We’ll be lucky if “they” don’t start a hot war, just to prove how exceptional we are.

  31. Charles Watkins
    May 29, 2020 at 15:53

    Show me a viable plan to overturn the system and I’ll be the first to join up. Till then, my choices are Republicans or Democrats and only one of those seems interested in saving the environment.

    • rosemerry
      May 29, 2020 at 17:05

      How much did Saint Obama do for the environment in his 8 years of helping pave the way for Trump???

  32. May 29, 2020 at 15:43

    Absolutely never voting for the lesser evil, didn’t last time and won’t this time. Voting for Tulsi Gabbard even if I have to write her in…or maybe Sanders, but was sorely disappointed in his capitulation last time and this time he did the same thing…caved in to the corrupt DNC. That’s a weakness that’s intolerable. Clinton was corrupt. Obama was corrupt. They gave us Trump. It’s astonishing to me that people still fall for those two destroyers of peoples’ trust…continuing the illegal wars and coups, not cutting off Israel, licking the boots of the rich elites, not passing healthcare for all in the first week of office. Biden is horrible and no one with an ounce of morality can vote for him, LEV be damned. Good article…thanks for that.

    • Anonymot
      May 29, 2020 at 23:13

      Well, it’s the young who won’t live to my age, 90, and so they should certainly be up in arms against the entire establishment. I started on that course at 16 and I’ve been there ever since. Unfortunately, the reality is that the two Siamese twin establishments control the arms, the money and the power. Furthermore, we’re coming up on a century and a half since there was a revolution in this country and we have become a nation of poufs, blinded by the individual brilliance we see in our selfies and terrorized by whichever of the victim category or categories into which we fall. So we are not going to change the system with any vote we make

      You’re perfectly on target about Tulsi. She was the brightest candidate in the Democrats darkness, but she had run afoul of Hillary, the foulest woman to ever run for the presidency. And via the DNC, it’s President and Board, nothing has changed since 2016. Tulsi was barred from all pertinent media coverage. She was not a dark horse, she was blacked out.

      Nothing is going to get better before we hit bottom. So let’s get it over with and vote our honest consciences. And prepare for the bottoming out.

  33. Martin H Katchen
    May 29, 2020 at 14:52

    What about the rest of the ticket?
    This is one election in which a Democratic blow-out is possible including a bunch of Democratic candidates running as sacrificial lambs in what would in any non pandemic election be safe Republican seats. The current Democratic leadership is used to being the junior partner in what is usually at most a hung Congress. Has been since 1992. Give the Democratic leadership the headache of dealing with a wave of freshmen like in 1932. Let’s see if Biden vetoes acts like card check unionization and student loan forgiveness and banking reform and Medicare expansion when it is sitting on his desk. And then there are the state houses and reapportionment..

    • ranney
      May 29, 2020 at 17:52

      Martin, I think you are dead right! Even if you can’t force yourself to vote for Biden, all progressive voters should be voting for the progressive candidates down ticket. This is so important!! and Cook doesn’t even mention that.
      Also we don’t know who Biden will pick as VP . Right now it looks like the tragic murder of a black man by cops will thankfully take Klobuchar off the VP list, so maybe it will be Warren, who has her flaws, but also has much to encourage our vote.
      It’s way too soon to be writing off the younger generation. They have too much to lose if they opt out.

    • TimN
      May 30, 2020 at 09:45

      This ain’t 1932. This is a very different time, with a very different political class.

  34. John Drake
    May 29, 2020 at 14:30

    Interesting: “This column is not going to make an argument for or against lesser evil voting…” then Mr Cook proceeds to spend the whole article presenting- ta da, arguments for and against lesser evil voting.

    The clip of the Rising presented a very good discussion-they usually do. The take away is that Bernie mounted a wimpy campaign, he never went for the jugular so to speak. He had been cheated once in 2016 and again in a more sophisticated way in 2020 by being ganged up on by more than a dozen candidates; the leading ones conveniently dropping out and endorsing Biden at a critical juncture.

    I would cringe every time he said, “…my good friend Joe Biden”. Unfortunately Bernie is not as good as his supporters, and his calling on them to cool there ire is irresponsible and insulting for all the effort they put in.

    “This is the moment when the Sanders camp ought to be able to parlay their substantial voting bloc into influence over who is chosen as Biden’s vice-president and his senior cabinet ministers, as well as over the main planks of Biden’s platform”.

    This is exactly what is happening (see Vox, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are building new, policy-focused task forces, May 13) which will inform the platform and campaign policies. Biden is known for establishing coalitions. The climate change panel includes AOC and the co founder of the Sunrise movement. Two people not to be double crossed. There are many other impressive activists on that side, and Larry Summers is no where to be seen, but the progressive economist Dr. Stephanie Kelton is. I suspect they fully understand the nature of fascism and how destructive the Donald has and will be. They have dedicated their lives to getting rid of a clear and present danger. The veep choice will be important, as Biden’s incipient dementia will make him a one term president.

    Of course campaign platforms don’t necessarily reflect the winner’s policy once in office; and this could all be cooptation and sheep dogging . Obama, master of bait and switch, is a good example of that. But the thinking is that the virus has “changed everything” in spectacularly exposing the country’s failures and vulnerabilities; so a return to normal is not tenable.

    Aha! The virus, and Trump’s response(lack thereof) makes the not so lesser of two evils argument composed of a myriad of lesser details sort of weak. What other president even Republican would have said the Covid 19 virsus was a hoax. His son Eric still promulgating that. The response to the crisis has been a series of denials; he is actually sabotaging efforts to deal with the disease, regularly contradicting medical experts and refusing to respond on the scope that is necessary. He has stolen medial supplies from states, particularly Massachusetts, and has that genius Jared Kushner parceling out equipment on the basis of politics.

    Governor Hogan of Maryland ordered five hundred thousand test kits from Korea, had the Korean Airlines plane land at Baltimore airport to be greeted by over a hundred Maryland National Guard and state police and taken to a secure location. This is unprecedented to have to defy the Feds’ corruption with armed troops.

    Look at the Supremes, RBG is desperately clinging to her job in spite of numerous cancer treatments so Trump doesn’t get to replace her with some unqualified right winger.

    “If Sanders’ supporters reject voting for Biden, Biden is unlikely to win the election. The deeply corrupt Democratic party leadership will then be forced into crisis.” Well that happened last time when Queen Hillary went down to defeat. The DNC didn’t seem to take the hint – so don’t hold your breath on a come to Jesus moment, if we get Trump again.

    Describing both Trump and Biden-the latter is compromised and a mediocrity- as both delusional narcissists misses the point that: Twenty seven psychiatrists and psychologists in “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” argue that their moral civic duty goes beyond the normal ethical reticence to publicly diagnose a public figure.

    That Donald Trump is a dangerously, pathologically unstable individual. That was three years ago, he has become even more florid since. He is more than a narcissist, he is a sociopath with very poor impulse control and very erratic moody behavior, a toxic malignant personality, a borderline. He just advocated using live fire on American citizens. He has torn up nuclear arms treaties, the Iran deal and the Paris Accord, and wants to resume nuclear tests and start an arms race, nuclear.

    Don’t get me wrong I don’t believe in lesser of two evil voting; but this is different. Evangelicals who are awaiting “the rapture” love Trump. He is right out of the Book of Revelations”; he is the “apocalypse”, and he is now.

    • TimN
      May 30, 2020 at 09:47

      Good God. Biden is known for ” establishing coalitions, ” eh?

    May 29, 2020 at 14:20

    America’s idea of democracy…a choice between…

    Corruption and war under a foul-mouthed lunatic or corruption and war under an old party hack who may also be a rapist.

  36. DW Bartoo
    May 29, 2020 at 13:50

    A much appreciated consideration, Jonathan.

    What about considering a bit further?

    Let us consider that there simply is no electoral solution possible, even were Chris Hedges, for example, to win election to the U$ House in New Jersey, at this time.

    Suppose we were to agree that more than sufficient evidence has been presented over some five and a half decades (if not longer), that not only has the U$ government, the media, academia, and all of “permissible” discussion been captured (as in “regulatory capture) by oligarchic “interests”, that political wrangling is Kabuki malarkey, that democracy is and, frankly, always has been fictitious nonsense, in the land of the “shining city on the hill”, and that myth and manipulation have always “manufactured the consent” of the many TO the benefit of colonial and imperial actors who were precisely the men who are worshiped, today, as the Founding Fathers and their “heirs” until this very day.

    If this is the actual reality that we must address, in both this moment and as a historical truth, then is it not appropriate, indeed necessary, to envision both a governmental system and a civil society rather different than the one now in marked collapse, even as it lashes out, both within the nation and without, more and more viciously, fooishly, and belligerently?

    Are we not at the point of needing to move beyond the comfortable assumption of too many, that a savior will arise and lead us all out of our misery and common plight, out of rapacious policy toward the planet and Full Spectrum Dominance, militarily and financially, of all other nations?

    Some may imagine that a few tweaks, a slight shifting of priorities will suffice, even as the incrementalists raise dire warnings of the calamity that would surely result from something as basic as viewing fundamental human rights to include food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, and useful endeavor (a “job” has the notion of being but a menial occupation ordered about by “betters” who, at any whim, or none at all, can throw the menial one into the streets, homeless, hungry, and disgraced yet, somehow, deservedly so).

    Who would dare suggest that, were we who grasp the impending calamities, catastrophies, and collapse, to put our thoughts together, we might be able to envision a sane, humane, and sustainable human society, cognizant of its relation to and its dependency upon all of life?

    Can anyone dare imagine a society based on cooperation, not dog-eat-dog, rat races “to the bottom” competition?

    Can any humans conceive of the likely reality that there is enough to go around if reckless greed, overweening ambition, and extractive economic religiousity were not spouted as “human nature”?

    Who benefits from such a notion?

    Would our species even be here were we simply nasty and brutish by “nature”?

    Or is it only those who profit from what is loosely termed “civilization” that really benefit, the ones always protected, along with their wealth and influence BY the legal system, who, when they wreak havoc are “bailed out”, are never held to account for lying the nation into wars, for engaging in torture, for postulating that principles are infinitely elastic and merely “quaint” impediments to progress?

    Who really desires genuine democracy?

    Understand, that would require that everyone was both encouraged to engage, consistently and constantly in conscionable critical thinking, in risking, not other people’s money or lives, but one’s own “position”, even financial wellbeing to dare stand against idiocy, against wars of convenience and adventure, for example and, also, at the same time, support the realization of everyone’s full potential (who knows from what place true genius and necessary capacity might arise?).

    Unless, of course, war was considered idiotic, counterproductive, and driven by notions of cultural superiority.

    Imagine that.

    If you can stretch your imagination that far, then go a few steps further.

    Is not genuine democracy totally participatory?

    Are not “representative” forms drearily subject to corruption?

    Remember, corruption really is at the center of all that is destructive, harmful, and “evil”.

    If there is to be a future worth having, for all of life on this planet, then does it not require of all of us, individually, our best, most thoughtful and compassionate efforts?

    Of course, we could all just say, “That is above my pay grade, so somebody else will have to solve our collective problem and, as well, I’ve got to look out for number one.

    How do we get past that?

    Hate, intolerance, greed, and violence must be taught to any human who is not pathologically incapable of imagining how others might feel, of not giving a damn if their personal ambition feels, in any fashion, threatened, about the harm they inflict on others or upon the planet.

    Those now lusting for wealth, power, and control, will relinquish none of what they perceive as theirs.

    Those possessing those things have no hesitation or qualm of resorting to violence, even at the nuclear level.

    The evidence is in.

    Is reason is the only weapon of rational recourse, then let us wield it wisely and well, not by craven acquiescence, but by providing palpable possibilities of very different pathways.

    Anybody got any ideas?

    Please do not wait too long before sharing.

    Time may well be both of the essence and far shorter than we imagine.

    • May 29, 2020 at 22:40

      America does not have a democracy, and, except in Fourth of July speeches, doesn’t even pretend to have one.

      Both political parties are driven by big money. And major policies, like those in the Middle East, are driven by big money.

      The swollen, resource-consuming military and security complex exists to serve big money in America’s global empire.It fights no wars of defense.

      America has a plutocracy.

    • Daniel P
      May 31, 2020 at 08:40

      I really appreciate this response. I, too, believe that real change will require an awakening – a deprogramming from decades of propaganda – and a risking of financial and social positions by many. But what choice do we have? We are otherwise frogs in a pot simmering at a slow boil.

      When I read about the technocracy that awaits us all – the groundwork for which has been laid for some time and is right now being escalated under cover of Covid19 propaganda, the thought of what to do in the case of Trump vs. Biden becomes quite irrelevant. Neither are leaders. Both have masters. And it is the faceless, never-focused-on masters who are dominating our world and all life on it. Their ever-present, always advancing agenda is where our focus needs to be if we are to have any hopes for the awakening and enlightenment needed to reverse their profit-over-people, violence-required paradigm. Shining a light on our masters is both entirely necessary and where the real danger lies. Trump vs. Biden? Irrelevant.

    • DW Bartoo
      June 1, 2020 at 12:32

      Well said, Daniel P, and with your suggestion that those who control must be revealed, I completely agree.


  37. Dfnslblty
    May 29, 2020 at 13:12

    Good essay;
    Though, he refuses to say that the better course is to vote one’s conscience.
    The other choice is defeatism,
    Vote against both – and live with the result.
    Or live in your own fantasyland.

  38. Skip Scott
    May 29, 2020 at 13:10

    I must be young at heart. At 64, I find myself agreeing with everything Cook subscribes to the younger progressives, and have done so my entire adult life. By voting for “lesser evil,” you become part of the evil. It is really as simple as that. If you have any sense of morality, voting for a peace candidate (even if you have to write one in) is your only choice. Obama’s bombs were as deadly as Trump’s are now. Caving to the DNC only perpetuates the killing and abuse of all those unfortunate enough to live in places targeted by Empire. If you vote for your perceived “lesser evil,” you still have blood on your hands, and it will make no difference to the victims what your rationalization was that led to their murder.

    • John R
      May 30, 2020 at 07:45

      Bingo Skip ! “By voting for “lesser evil,” you become part of the evil.” It’s that simple. I refuse !

    • Bob Van Noy
      May 30, 2020 at 11:08

      Skip as you know I’m most comfortable responding to the dedicated readers of this forum. I had a thought several days ago that the solving of Russiagate was largely due to the severe pride in Journalism here coupled with the clear honesty of government officials like Ray McGovern and Bill Binney, likewise, I think it will take a free and honest internet to resolve the many problems our democracy is experiencing. A truth and reconciliation forum is necessary…

  39. May 29, 2020 at 12:27

    Excellent article. A query re. whether LEV leads to “lesser wars abroad,” though. For all his vices, Trump seems disinclined to involve US troops in another shooting war. Whereas Clinton and Biden are veteran war-starters.

  40. Dianne Leonard
    May 29, 2020 at 12:16

    I’m 67 and first voted in 1972. All of that time–in every single election–I’ve been hit with the “vote for the lesser of two evils” argument. It didn’t make sense in 1972, it didn’t make sense in any year from 1972 to now, and it doesn’t make sense now. So, no, I’m not going to vote for Biden. I am willing to vote for a compromise candidate–and in 2016 and 2020, I considered Bernie to be that compromise candidate. That doesn’t mean I’m going to reflexively do everything Bernie says to do. My support for Bernie meant being critical of him when I thought his positions were wrong. I’m a socialist, and I stand, always, with poor and working people, and *that* is something I don’t compromise on. Biden, and his ilk in both parties, has positions and has done things that harm poor and working people, so none of them deserve my vote.

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