Political Involvement and the Lesser of Two Evils

This post was originally posted in December of 2009 on an old blog of mine. It’s being reprinted here.

I had a conversation today with a couple friends on the subject of political involvement. One was against, and the other was for political involvement. Admittedly, they did most of the talking, so perhaps I should say that I was a party to the conversation. 🙂

During the course of the discussion, the standard argument against voting was brought up–voting for a candidate implies support of his political goals. And, of course, all of the candidates have political goals that we disagree with. So, rather than vote for something we disagree with, we should just not vote.

The other friend came back with the standard response–we ought to choose the lesser of the two evils in order to prevent the greater.

But, the first friend argues, we should never choose an evil–either lesser or greater. God will never put us in a place where our only options are to choose between a lesser and a greater evil.

To a point, I agree, but I don’t think the argument is convincing. Voting for someone even though they have some political goals that may be wrong isn’t necessarily wrong. Let me try to illustrate with a hypothetical example.

Suppose you’re walking along a sidewalk when you see two men rush out of an alley and break into a car parked by the curb. One man grabs a little girl out of the back seat and starts to run off, while the second starts looting valuables out of the car.

If you could only try to stop one of the criminals, what would you do?

I think we’d all agree that you should try to stop the one with the girl–a human life is worth far more than a few valuables in a car. But in doing so, are we implicitly approving of the second criminal’s theft? I don’t think so. If we stand by and do nothing, the criminals may eventually be caught. But by doing nothing when you had the ability to do something, you partake in their crime–you become an accomplice.

This isn’t a direct analogy, since both criminals–or neither–could be caught, while in an election one of the candidates will win and the other(s) will lose. But I think the principle still applies, doesn’t it? If we should chase the criminal with the child rather than the one with the valuables, why shouldn’t we “chase” or vote against the politician who supports abortion?

I recognize that politics, in itself, isn’t able to reform a nation. But neither is working at a tire shop.

I’ll probably post more on this later.

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