As a reply to a comment made on a previous post, I was very crass in my treatment of an argument made by someone calling himself "aconservativeteacher."
At the time, I thought that aconservativeteacher was my good friend, bar, who was commenting under another name. I believed that bar was trying to get my goat by making an argument that he knows irritates me.
Bar has since denied having made the comment, and that left me wondering who it was and realizing that it was probably sincere--which would cast my reply in a bad light (you see, I thought that I was being toyed around with).
Thinking about it, I'm pretty sure that I know who aconservativeteacher is, and I am also pretty sure that he was sincere. This leaves me with some explaining to do.
The question should not be Will A be a better president than B? The question should be Will A make a good president?
If A will make a good president, then A should be president.
Another way to look at it is this:
If A will not make a good president, then A should not be president.
Let's allow A to represent John McCain.
If John McCain will not make a good president, then John McCain should not be president.
John McCain will not make a good president.
Therefore, John McCain should not be president.
What aconservativeteacher has offered us is a false dilemma. A dilemma is an argument pitting an A against a B in an either-or proposition.
Something like "Either John McCain or Barack Obama can be president. Whoever is better should be president. McCain is better. Therefore, McCain should be president."
The reason this dilemma is false is because there are other candidates running for the same office. Someone else can be elected. Of course there is a historical likelihood that either McCain or Obama will be president, but that' s only because so many people--like aconservativeteacher--are convinced that the two-party system is somehow carved in stone.
It's not coarved in stone. It's a myth, and a highly destructive one at that, for it has saddled us with poor policies and poor leadership for well over a century. aconservativeteacher argues that Obama is the equivalent to Hitler. Now I don't like Obama at all, but that comparison is quite ludicrous. However, I'll use aconservativeteacher's own exaggeration to reduce his argument to absurdity.
A vote for John McCain is a vote for Benito Mussolini.
OK, aconservativeteacher, it's your turn. You know well that both Hitler and Mussolini were tyrants. However, according to your implied position, you're going to vote for Mussolini because he's less of a tyrant than Hitler.
The thing is, we don't merely have to choose between German National Socialism and Italian Fascism. There are other options. Even if there were no other options, could you really lend your moral support to the fascists?
For my part, I will support neither Hitler nor Mussolini. If it means that I am boarded up in my moral castle, then from there I will make my stand. At least I will have no blood on my hands. I am responsible to my conscience, so I must preserve it at all costs, no matter how un-pragmatic that may be on a political level.