Editor’s Note: Sometimes, you sit down to dinner, and you have to choose between a plate full of parrot droppings and a bowl of ground glass. It is a sad day when we have the choices we have today, but we have no one to blame but ourselves.


The Lesser of Two Evils

 

There’s nothing like an election to bring out the clichés. By far the most ubiquitous of this campaign is The Donald’s “Make America Great Again.” And it’s the “Again” in that cliché that delineates the opposing sides.

The words “Make America Great” on a red baseball cap would be just one more bromide, but adding “Again” conjures up a halcyon era we’ve somehow lost. This differentiates progressives, who value “progress” toward the future, from conservatives, who hope to “conserve” a mythical past that needs to be reclaimed for us to be “Great Again.”

Most of The Donald’s contribution to the electoral jargon has involved insults directed at his opponents — from “Little Marco” Rubio and “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz to “Crooked” Hillary Clinton and “Pocahontas” (Elizabeth Warren). I’m still hoping my coinage for the GOP nominee — “Orange Mussolini” — gains traction in the journalistic lexicon; however, comparisons to World War II dictators are generally too hyperbolic, despite Trump’s rather uncanny resemblance and some eerily similar facial tics and mannerisms.

If there’s one election year phrase that’s really gone viral this time around (and with good reason), it’s “the lesser of two evils.” Mrs. Clinton’s unfavorables are at 55%, and The Donald’s are near 70%. “Daily News” columnist Mike Lupica has pointed out that, in this race to the bottom, the popular vote will be less important than the “unpopular vote.”

The GOP primaries were, for me, like an NCAA basketball game between Duke and North Carolina. I was born in Connecticut, graduated from UConn, taught at UConn and have never had an area code that wasn’t 203. Hence, I’m required to despise Duke, but my distaste for coach Roy Williams makes it equally hard to root for Carolina. Because I always hope both teams will lose, I rarely watch when they face each other.

Toward the end of the primaries, Republicans began to focus on the lesser of two evils, as the viable options came down to Trump and Ted Cruz, of whom erstwhile GOP candidate Lindsey Graham said, if you killed him on the Senate floor, “nobody would convict you.” Graham also compared Cruz versus Trump to a choice between “being shot or poisoned.”

I had “no dog in the fight” during those primaries. It reminded me of the 1980s Iran-Iraq War, which I’d hoped would go on indefinitely, and both sides would lose, because there were no good guys on either side. That war ended better than the primaries — neither side won. However, this general election will magnify the lesser-of-two-evils concept. There are probably as many Republicans who would vote for The Devil before Hillary as there are Democrats who are finding it hard to differentiate between Satan and Trump.

In 1776, a population of 2.5 million produced men like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Ben Franklin to write the Declaration of Independence. They then appointed George Washington to lead the army, in which would serve such titans as Alexander Hamilton and future presidents, such as James Madison. Today, with more than 320 million people, the best we can come up with as potential presidents are someone who spent the Fourth of July weekend being grilled by the FBI and a lying, bigoted game show host.

You could swing a dead cat in a bordello and hit two people with more integrity than our current nominees. According to a “USA Today” survey, 61% of Americans are “alarmed” by their choices in this election. However, two evils shouldn’t create what talk show host Bill Maher has described as “a false equivalency.” During World War II, Stalin’s Soviets battled Hitler’s Nazis, but we still had to pick a side.

FBI Director James Comey’s litany of Mrs. Clinton’s sins in the email scandal was disturbing; however, when he didn’t indict her, he left it up to the American people to decide, at the ballot box, what they think of her. After Comey’s report, I felt she should have handed over the nomination to Bernie Sanders; however, according to nonpartisan fact checker PolitiFact, 59% of Trump’s statements are verifiably false (i.e., he’s lying more than half the time), versus 12% for Clinton. There’s simply no palatable alternative.

In past elections, I had ideological reasons for voting against people like Ronald Reagan, Mitt Romney and George W, and, although I backed Obama and Bill Clinton, I didn’t always agree with everything they stood for. Yet the one thing they all had in common —winners and losers, Democrats and Republicans — was that, their policies aside, they were (other than Dick Cheney) decent human beings and patriotic Americans, who meant well and cared about their country. In 2016, this is a questionable proposition.

Recent events, including her husband’s schmoozing of the attorney general, have further eroded Mrs. Clinton’s approval rating, which was pathetic already. Meanwhile, the GOP is lining up behind the worst person to run for the Oval Office since George Wallace in 1968. Regardless, we need to avoid drawing a false equivalency: All five living presidents (three Democrats and two Republicans) consider Trump unacceptable.

Putting party before country, Marco Rubio has endorsed Trump, while calling him unfit to be commander in chief. When asked if he still believes Trump can’t be trusted with access to nuclear weapons, Rubio told the conservative “Weekly Standard” that, “I stand by everything I said during the campaign.” (Calling Trump “dangerous,” he warned, “We can’t hand the nuclear codes of the United States to an erratic individual.”)

If the movie “Primary Colors” caused you to view the Clintons as sleazy and arrogant, rent Stephen King’s “The Dead Zone” and consider whom crazed candidate Greg Stillson (Martin Sheen) reminds you of. Conservative Joe Scarborough recently said, “We have two candidates completely disconnected from the truth”; however, Americans should be most alarmed by the “Orange” candidate, who seems disconnected from reality as well.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never liked Hillary or Trump, not even in 2008 when he was a Democrat helping to fund her campaign and praising her qualifications. All things being equal, I’d rather spend election day watching the musical “1776.” However, in politics, few things are ever equal, and, with the Supreme Court in play, I’ll have to vote for Hillary, even if I do so without much enthusiasm.

Also in the interest of full disclosure, I do sometimes watch Duke play North Carolina, and I root for Carolina … but just a little.


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