Democratic Underground

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 higher stakes.

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 for manipulation.

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.

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