Many of my friends are surprised when they learn that I often vote for a third candidate in a “two party race” election. They inform me that I “threw away my vote” because there is no chance my candidate will win, and they believe it is better to choose the lesser of two evils. Hyrum Smith said:
“We engage in the election the same as in any other principle; you are to vote for good men, and if you do not do this it is a sin; to vote for wicked men, it would be sin. Choose the good and refuse the evil. Men of false principles have preyed upon us like wolves upon helpless lambs. Damn the rod of tyranny; curse it. Let every man use his liberties according to the constitution. Don’t fear man or devil; electioneer with all people, male and female, and exhort them to do the thing that is right. We want a President of the U.S., not a party President, but a President of the whole people; for a party President disfranchises the opposite party. Have a President who will maintain every man in his rights.” [History of the Church, Vol.6, Ch.15, p.323]
We have far too few political candidates that really understand the correct principles of our constitutional, representative democracy. I feel sick when I consider voting for a candidate that makes me compromise too far because they would further threaten our liberty and promote using the force of government in unjustified, immoral ways. A “third party” or independent candidate generally knows they have almost no chance of winning, but they stay in the race because by doing so they help educate the public on correct government principles. I support that! The fact that we have to choose one of two bad options tells me that we need to be much more concerned about educating the public on morality and the proper role of government.
After discussion with my friends about fundamental principles of government, they often find that they mostly agree with me on principle. Upon further consideration, however, they make the rash assumption that the candidate I voted for would make these changes overnight, and they worry about voting for them because such sudden changes might cause chaos. I explain that the candidate isn’t saying that we should change everything overnight, they’re just telling us which direction to start moving towards rather than encouraging us to keep moving in the wrong direction, no matter how fast or slow. The candidate’s positions may appear extreme, but this is usually because they are one of the few that actually want to move us in the right direction while the others support certain forms of socialism.
These conversations have caused me to ponder about how awesome it would be if we were faced with the dilemma of choosing between the greater of two goods on Election Day. Instead of having to choose between two final candidates who are debating over which rights to chip away at, so that we can move closer to socialism without infringing upon too many rights too fast, we would get to choose between two final candidates who are debating over which rights to restore in what order, and how fast to proceed, so that we can move closer to liberty while maintaining order.
To those who are faced with the dilemma of having to choose between the lesser of two evils, I present the following:
The Parable of the Two Giants and Their Slaves
Two giants captured two human slaves and each became a master to one slave. One day both giants became hungry. While discussing how to best obtain a meal, they couldn’t decide whether it would be better to steal some neighbors’ cows, which would cause pain to their neighbors, or to just kill and eat the neighbors. Each decided to let his own slave determine his action.
The first slave realized that his master would refuse any other option, so he told his master to steal a cow, for he knew stealing was less evil than murder and didn’t want the greater evil to be chosen. The second slave refused to support any evil so he suggested a third option: to spend time hunting a wild beast and eat that. The second master mocked his slave and went and ate a neighbor.
Afterwards, the first slave just went about his master’s duties, while the second slave began to teach his master about morality as he went about his duties.
After a long while the masters became hungry again. The first master, who hadn’t progressed at all, presented his slave with the same options as before. However, the second master, who now had a basic understanding of self-reliance, asked his slave whether he should spend time hunting beasts or developing a farm which would produce both meat and produce. The second slave pondered about his master’s capabilities and what his master could reasonably do without giving in to frustration, and made his decision. He was then promoted from slave to advisor.
Moral of the story: when forced to choose between the lesser of two evils, the greater evil is to do nothing until your next choice.
“We are involved in an intense battle. It is a battle between right and wrong, between truth and error, between the design of the Almighty on the one hand and that of Lucifer on the other. For that reason, we desperately need moral men and women who stand on principle, to be involved in the political process. Otherwise, we abdicate power to those whose designs are almost entirely selfish.” [Gordon B. Hinckley, Stand a little Taller, pg. 15, July 2001]
Appendix: Interpretation of the Parable
Giants = Constitutional, representative democracies that had degenerated into immoral, direct democracies
Slaves = Us
Slaves decision on their masters’ meal = Voting booth
1st slave’s vote = He who votes for the lesser of two evils, reasoning that not voting for either may result in the worst outcome
2nd slave’s vote = He who votes for a third option, refusing to encourage any evil but realizing that in the short-term this may result in the worst outcome
1st slave just doing duties = He who is frustrated with two bad options, and zones out politics until the next election
2nd slave teaching morality = He who realizes that he must help educate society on correct government principles
A long while = Many elections passing
Later vote for 1st slave = Same perpetual moral dilemma: which is the lesser of two evils?
Later vote for 2nd slave = Better moral dilemma: which is the greater of two goods? Should the option with the most protection of rights be chosen, or do we need to proceed a little slower to make sure that we don’t run faster than we are able?
2nd slave’s promotion to advisor = When society is educated enough to put forth two principled candidates that support liberty, we will feel more like an advisor than a slave to our government system[podcast]http://traffic.libsyn.com/ldslibertyblogcast/The_Lesser_of_Two_Evils_by_Johnny_Hardy.mp3[/podcast]