Monday, September 08, 2008

As always, there seem to be people who prefer losing high-mindedly and with great ideological purity to winning. I have to question how seriously committed they are to serving the causes they profess. We can all go off after the election and practice moral self-flattery to our hearts' content. Now is the time for business. And "business." for the next sixty days, means appealing to voters who may not share all of our values or opinions.
mark kleiman, over at the reality-based community

i run into this problem a lot with some of my more liberal/progressive friends, and while i applaud integrity in all its forms, and am a firm believer in winning fair and square, the idealism that i share with such people is tempered by the realization that actions have consequences and elections do matter. there may or may not be as much daylight between the republican and the democratic parties as my more radical friends might desire or demand, and neither is likely (or even able) to live up to the truly liberal person's dreams and desires (a thing which may or may not be possible, predicated as it is on a presumption of universality, i.e. it would work, but only if the whole rest of the world was liberal in exactly the same way).

but, for those that lean to the left, and mean it, to say that there isn't enough difference between the republican and democratic parties is quite frankly ridiculous. in response, i invite the reader to engage in a little thought experiment and ask yourself what eight years of a gore presidency might've been like. do you think we'd be at war in iraq? would the multitrillion dollar budget surplus we had coming into this century have become a multitrillion dollar national debt? would we have doubled down on a petroleum-based economy just as world oil production was hitting its peak and the developing world was beginning to demand as much oil as we do?

perhaps the case might be made that the answer to any or all of those questions would be yes, but i can't think of any compelling arguments.

the truth of the matter is that all action is morally hazardous, because the world as we live in it is not black and white (nor is is shades of gray, either; the real spectrum between black and white is the rainbow spread of glorious full color, but that's a point for later contemplation). choices have to be made, and while you always have to choose (and refusing to choose is also a choice), you don't get to choose what the choices are. there is such a thing as a lesser evil, and even if it is not the greatest good, it is, by definition, the greater.

besides, does anybody really think it's going to be easier to get progressive legislation passed with john mccain or (gulp) sarah palin in the white house? seriously? after all, whoever gets elected is everybody's president, even if you didn't vote for him. barack obama may be imperfect, but on every issue that counts, he's closer to what i believe in than the other side is, and while he may not match me up as exactly as i would like him to, he's gonna get my support, my money, and my vote, and if you're a self-described liberal or progressive or whatever other sub-category on the left, he should get yours, too.

No comments: