A Tale of Two Evils
August 27, 2004
By Violet Lake
Republicans are quite comfortable when the choice is between the
"lesser of two evils." After all, they're the ones that worked so
diligently to lower - and bury - the proverbial bar.
They know that for a patently inferior product to be able to compete
in the "free market" of ideas, the integrity of the market must
be destroyed first. It doesn't matter to them that people depend
on this market to thrive. For Republicans, it's a small sacrifice
to pay for power.
That they're bankrupting this nation - intellectually, morally,
emotionally, and financially - is of little concern to them. They
fancy themselves as players of a more sophisticated game - one with
Let's look at how their brutal game works.
First and foremost, the object of the game is to win power and
rewrite the rules. Nothing else matters.
In the Republican playbook, existing rules can be broken, used
as shields, or used as weapons against the other guy. For them,
the only disadvantage to breaking rules is that they gradually lose
their utility as shields and weapons.
Their challenge is to gain the maximum possible advantage from
the existing rules, before they shatter into rubble. They operate
under the assumption that at the end of the fight, the winner gets
to create a new set.
What is intended to be the most high-minded, spiritually uplifting
contest in the nation is turned into a vicious fight for survival.
The "spectators" rarely see the entire scene. Finding themselves
unable to judge the contest objectively, they conclude that it's
not possible - or too difficult - to be objective judges. Critical
thought is pushed aside in favor of emotional responses driven by
base instincts. This is how otherwise reasonable people become ripe
That's how some people come to the conclusion that the game itself
is rotten. That's how people begin to identify with the guy shouting
loudest about new rules. That's how Americans begin to believe that
the solutions to America's problems involve denying and violating
the rights and dignity of other people.
As the existing order is destroyed, the way is paved for the next.
As long as the view can be controlled, the fight favors the aggressor.
Let's take a peek at the entire scene for a moment.
A decent man defending American rules is courageously enduring
a criminal savaging at the hands of a ruthless opponent who intends
to recreate America along lines that no sane person would accept.
End of peek.
Did you catch that? I know... what a nasty sight. If only more
people could get a peek. Sigh.
It seems to me that the decent man is at a disadvantage because
it's his duty to defend the rules - they can be cumbersome, and
breaking them plays into the villain's hands.
How can the decent man fight against such an unprincipled premeditated
assault without betraying everything he believes in - without becoming
the greater of two evils?
You see, here's the thing: if the choice appears to be between
a life-long villain and a recent convert, and common wisdom defines
politics as a dishonest profession, then it shouldn't be a surprise
that so many people go with the dyed-in-the-wool scumbag. Obviously,
a conversion to villainy isn't an option.
Perhaps the decent man needs to put a spotlight on the villain
and hold it there.
And he should resist the urge to defend the merits of his works
every time they're challenged. Instead, he should ask the villain
why he has no works of his own to defend. Ask him why he offers
only lies, fear, derision, sabotage, and destruction.
He should ask the villain a lot of questions, and refuse to debate
his divisive, energy-consuming ploys-masquerading-as-issues.
Keep the spotlight on the villain. Give people the view they need
to regain their critical faculties. It'll help them realize that
the choice isn't between shades of evil.
The choice is between a decent man, an heir to a great and honorable
tradition - and a thug.