Obama, Romney, and the Lesser of Two Evils

As I have made persuasion calls expressing my decision to vote for President Obama in the 2012 election, I often hear from voters that they are going to choose between the lesser of two evils. While it is nothing I have not heard before and even something I have said in prior elections, I now see the error in such remarks. Even yesterday, my father told me that while he did not like Mitt Romney all that much, he would vote for him because he is clearly the lesser of the two evils. In considering the meaning of such a statement, I focus attention on the question of how people would perceive me if I were running for office. People who run for office obviously subject themselves to intense scrutiny because it is known that whatever skeletons are in their closet will be brought out. I am certain that if I were running for office people would find a way to point out my imperfections and exploit them to the world to show how evil I truly am. The fact remains, however, that voters are constantly going to make decisions based on whom they feel is the lesser of the two evils. With that in mind, I think it is important to ask the question of how the measurement of the lesser of two evils is quantified?

In one persuasion call I made recently expressing my pledge to vote for the President Obama, the voter quickly interrupted me saying, "I've decided for sure that I am not going to vote for Obama because he is the greater of the two evils." I asked the voter to express his thoughts on why and he responded, "Obama's support for marriage equality sealed the deal for me. I absolutely will not consider voting for him after his statement on that." Like this voter, many people choose to vote for one candidate over another based on social issues. It is no different than the decision I made in 1996 due to my strong pro-life stance and my belief at the time that gays and lesbians should not be given the right to serve in the military as President Clinton had approved during his first term. Though I still maintain a strong pro-life stance and my view on gay and lesbian rights have evolved, I have managed to wake up from thinking that a stance on social issues defines a candidate as the more moral or the less evil of the two.

Shortly after John Kerry lost the 2004 presidential election, Bill Clinton quickly went to the airwaves offering criticism of Senator Kerry. Clinton pointed out that Bush had done better than John Kerry at defining what moral values were and that Kerry had not pushed back hard enough to clarify his own view of moral values. For the Democratic Party, moral values revolve around social justice. While conservative Republicans define moral values on the basis of sexual repression, liberal Democrats seem to define moral values based on principles of social justice and equality for all to ensure that every citizen is provided with a fair chance to rise above their circumstances and achieve the American Dream.

My personal decision this year to vote for the Democratic ticket for the first time in a general election is based on these values.  The most succinct way I can state my choice is that I decided not to vote Republican because it has become clear that while they proclaim to care about the life and rights of the unborn, they hold positions which accomplish nothing but the abortion of any hope that the living among us has. This was clear last fall when President Obama proposed the American Jobs Act which would increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans by a very small percentage to raise money for jobs so that we could boost the economy. It was nearly a week after President Obama's proposal that I watched Republican Louisiana Congressman John Fleming whine that raising taxes was class warfare and would be unjust to the rich like himself because as it is he only has $400,000 left over after he feeds his family, and that he could not afford a tax hike that would drop the amount he has left over to $383,000. It was at that moment that I began to take a closer look at the claim I had often heard that the Republicans will seek to preserve the interests of the wealthiest Americans. The more I researched, the more it was clear to me that Republicans care more about the wealthiest Americans than they do about ensuring that everyone has a fair chance at the opportunity to experience the American dream.

When it comes to the choice between President Obama and former Governor Romney, there are positions on which I strongly disagree with the President to the extent that my personal values make me wonder how he could hold such "evil views." In spite of those views, I still consider Obama the lesser of two evils because at least I know where he stands and what he believes. I cannot say the same for Romney who has changed his positions so often over the years it is hard to discern what he really believes. It is clear by his constant wavering of positions that calling Mitt Romney a flip-flopper would be a huge misstatement because it would imply at some point or another that he actually did stand for something. Of course, I guess it is not fair to say that entirely. He has after all, stood for ensuring that his personal profits skyrocket while he lays off the workers of the companies he took over while at Bain Capital.  

Obama clearly stands for social justice for all so that everyone may have a fair shot at the American Dream. By contrast, Romneyis campaigning for us to recognize the personhood of corporations. And so I quantify the measurement of the lesser of two evils by standing with the candidate whose stances are steadfast and clear over the one who consistently wavers to the point that it is hard and quite scary to even fathom exactly what he would do as president.