Sunday, October 19, 2008

Choices Schmoices

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.


  1. Jeff P.7:34 PM

    Get real. There will be only one president, and he will be either a Republican or a Democrat.

    That means that the president will be only Obama or McCain.

    That also means that if you don't vote for one then you're voting for the other.

    There are no other choices.

    Get real.

  2. If an armed gang has your wife and your mother hostage, with guns pointing at their heads, and tell you to choose which one dies, is it your fault if one is shot because you refuse to choose?
    The inevitable end does not justify the two choices you recommend. This is NOT an either or situation.

  3. My advice to you, Aristos, is to vote for a presidential candidate. Just don't vote for Obama or McCain. Because of the terrible odds (due to irresponsible, biased media coverage, and what I would call "cheating" by Dems and Reps)I don't care who you vote for, as long as he/she is an official presidential candidate. Show that you think someone else would be a better president. There are two benefits to this: One, you are not voting for Obama. Two, you are not giving false approval to McCain's agenda. In the first post (the one not from me)the benefit is cancelled out by the appearance of approval towards McCain. There is no need to argue about false approval for Bob Barr or the other candidates; even if one was elected we would be better off (checks and balances might actually do some good then!). I have not spent hours or days deliberating this idea; I only thought of it after hearing something on the radio about starting a new party (was it Bill Bonds?). I welcome any and all intelligent arguments. Hopefully Aristos will post this.

  4. Bar,

    You're right, but voting is so much more pointless than that. Regardless of your individual vote, you won't alter whether it's Obama or McCain. So why should you engage in a purely symbolic action that you find immoral?

    And Jeff P., please pause before saying, "What if everyone did that!?" Well, if everyone voted for the pure third party candidate, then s/he would win.

    If anyone is interested, last year I attended my brother-in-law's high school graduation, and the speaker urged everyone to vote as a way to turn this country around. I begged to differ.

  5. Jeff P:

    I cannot respond to your comment because you have so perfectly demonstrated the inane mindset of which I rant against.

    I'm sorry--was that last sentence too complex for you?

    And hell yes, that was a complex sentence--as opposed to a compound or a compound-complex sentence.

  6. Considering the alternatives, I stand by my suggestion to vote for someone other than McCain or Obama. I think that abstaining sends an unclear message, too often interpreted as, "Maybe if the Democrats nominate a minority, I'll finally vote" or "I'm waiting for a more Mavericky Republican to vote for". If there was a box that stated, "I am officially abstaining from the vote for president of the United States because all of the candidates on this ballot suck" I would probably choose that one. But since that's not realistic, I'll just clearly vote for someone other than the two terds at the top of the ballot.

  7. There are two options in this election- Barack Obama, and whomever the GOP puts forward. We have a two party system (see my blog for many posts on this subject), so it isn't even worth talking about anyone other than Obama or GOP-nominee.

    Obama is not good and likely to be worse as a lame duck, so the GOP nominee needs to be seriously considered. If you are an independent or moderate voter, Romney should be your choice. If you are conservative or libertarian, Perry is your choice. Other options are just silly.


Bill of Rights