A LESSER OF TWO EVILS?
By Bill Sizemore
May 4, 2004
The day after it was published, my mailbox was chocked full of venomous emails reacting to my article, “Unhelpful Conservative Bush Bashing.” Many conservatives, obviously unwilling to accept the reality of what many see as a “lesser of two evils” choice, lashed out at me with unusual animosity.
Apparently, some conservatives don’t like being told that in the real world, we only have two choices: Bush or Kerry. However, barring an unforeseen death or some other extraordinary event, the next president of the United States will be George W. Bush or John Kerry.
Even given that reality, some argued in the emails I received that those conservatives who favor limited government would be better off under Kerry. Unfortunately, they made some valid points.
“A Republican Congress would never have allowed the kind of domestic spending increases George W. Bush pushed through using presidential arm twisting and appeals to party loyalty,” some wrote. Ouch!
“We’d be better off with a liberal like John Kerry as President, at least then the Republicans would put up a fight on budget issues,” others said. They are probably right about that.
“Kerry would not have gotten us bogged down in an illegal, empire building war in Iraq,” or “Some of Bush’s appointees to the federal bench and other insider positions are not conservatives,” others argued, pointing out that Bush is even considering his own Whitehouse counsel, a man of questionable conservative credentials, as his first Supreme Court nominee.
Even though the question may be a mixed one, it still remains to be answered: In the long run, does it matter who wins the next presidential election? Is there really a lesser of two evils? If so, with which of the two major candidates are we better off?
Before we get to that, it would be remiss of me to not mention that others who responded to my anti “Bush-bashing” column felt that they were not limited to two choices after all. Some proudly announced that they would be voting for a third party candidate as a “matter of principle.”
How do you argue with someone who genuinely believes that they should throw away their vote as a matter of principle? If people believe that it is not important that they help decide the outcome of the election by casting their vote for someone who actually has some chance of winning, then there is no logical argument that will persuade them to do otherwise.
To those patriotic souls I would say again, the choice we have may be between the lesser of two evils, and you may resent that fact, but that is still the choice we have. That is reality. Being angry about it or wanting it to be otherwise does not change the fact that that is the reality we face.
If there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the two major candidates, then we are all throwing our votes away, whether we do so as a matter of principle, or not. Are we not? That is why we absolutely must decide whether there truly is a lesser of two evils between the two major candidates, and with which of them we would be better off.
Surprisingly, the answer to that question may depend on the issues that are important to you.
I think critics are right when they claim that federal spending would probably be less under Kerry, and that the Republican Congress would not have allowed Kerry to push through the budget increases and new social programs that Bush has been able to get passed.
However, there are several other issues to consider. Taxes. Immigration. The war in Iraq. The war on terrorism. Court appointees. Abortion. Gay marriage. Social Security reform. Gun control.
Some of those issues break in favor of Bush. Some break in favor of Kerry. Some are too close to call.
To make matters even more volatile, the positions of the candidates regarding some of these issue may change between now and November. Bush may become more conservative over the coming months. (If he doesn’t, the decision for practical conservatives this Fall may be a difficult one indeed.)
Also, there is the question of long-term strategy. If Bush wins in ‘04, will it make it more or less likely that a real conservative will be elected to the Presidency in 2008? If Ford had beaten Carter in 1976, would Reagan have been elected President in 1980? Probably not.
On the other hand, would another dose of unabashed liberalism cause a healthy backlash in this nation and feed a demand for a real conservative president, someone who will work earnestly to lower taxes and dismantle the bloated federal monstrosity that is choking the life out of this country?
I recently read an editorial by Don Devine, editor of American Conservative Union Foundation, who intelligently analyzed and compared Bush and Kerry on several issues. In his editorial, Mr. Devine addressed many of the questions conservatives have been pondering.
Rather than reinvent the wheel, I am going to refer
you to Mr. Devine's
As a result of reading Mr. Devine’s article, you might be surprised to learn that there are some major players on the national scene, who do not yet see the decision before us this Fall as a clear-cut one.
Finally, by way of reference, I have had occasion to observe and even work with Don Devine over the years. He is a good man. I have visited with him in a personal, one-on-one setting, and he was the one who introduced me at the Oregon Republican Party’s State Convention in 1998, when I was that party’s gubernatorial nominee. He is a genuine conservative; the kind who is more interested in doing what is right for the conservative movement and the country, than merely beating the party drum.
© 2004 Bill Sizemore - All Rights Reserved
Bill Sizemore is a registered Independent who
works as executive director of the Oregon Taxpayers Union, a statewide
taxpayer organization. Bill was the Republican candidate for governor
in 1998. He and his wife Cindy have four children, ages eight to thirteen,
and live on 36 acres in Beavercreek, just southeast of Oregon City, Oregon.
"Even given that reality, some argued in the emails I received that those conservatives who favor limited government would be better off under Kerry."