We almost skipped Jonah Goldberg’s Newsletter because the title was “Don’t Choose The Lesser Of Two Evils.” A simpler title would be don’t vote. Voting is almost always a matter of voting for the lesser evil. In Wisconsin we have had the opportunity (twice!) to vote for Ron Johnson against Russ Feingold and have the special joy of Ron winning both times. That and Reagan in ’84 sums up the votes of almost 50 years that were not the lesser of two evils. We suspect that our total of three is higher than average. For example, if you are a conservative and live in NY and weren’t old enough to vote for James Buckley in 1970, there haven’t been many opportunities since then.
Sidebar: The Donald didn’t make our list. We have said before that he was a dominant choice over Herself meaning that he was at least as good everywhere as her. The problem is that they both have hideous character problems and are both anti-trade. A dominant choice can still be the lesser evil. End Sidebar.
Jonah’s newsletter confirmed our opinion and helped us to understand our differences. Here is his argument against the obvious:
Tully Borland, a philosophy professor (!), writes, “Never voting for a lesser evil means never voting.” This is morally poisonous sophistry and casuistry.
Tully is overstating the case but just barely. Jonah is, well, wrong. It is not morally poisonous. It is not sophistry (subtly deceptive). It is not casuistry (specious [having deceptive allure] argument). It is exactly the relevant argument. We don’t know why Jonah thinks de Tocqueville would call something that is true a clear but false idea. We are willing to accept that Doug Jones might be a better choice than Roy Moore but Jonah needs to tell us why.
Later he tells us we never recovered from declining moral consensus of the 60s and Bill Clinton. He is exactly right when he says:
That moral consensus, for good and ill, started to break down in the 1960s. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton shattered it among liberal elites, who scrambled to find reasons to celebrate the president’s European sophistication as evidenced by his willingness to diddle the interns.
Yup, although there was consensus it was harder to get caught so we have only heard about all sorts of behavior, like JFK’s, that would have outraged the moral consensus then but wasn’t available on a timely basis. Jonah concludes:
What we need — again — are universal standards of moral conduct.
We couldn’t agree more. It isn’t gonna happen because it is difficult and there needs to be exceptions. In regards to sexual harassment we think zero tolerance, any accusation is disqualifying, is a terrible idea. Although it might be possible to create a grading rubric for sexual harassment it is quite a challenge. Somebody at Powerline tried to start one, mostly in jest if we remember.
Folks in Alabama need to decide how to vote in the Senate race. We don’t do this full-time so we don’t have an opinion on who is the lesser evil. We will find out what Alabama thinks. The Senate has passed the GOP tax bill but Congress critters need to agree on the conference bill that can be passed by both houses. Here we are strongly in favor of the tax bill because it is a great deal less evil than the existing code. Binary choices are often hard. It is why, in general, we like governors for President. Philosophy informs but rarely answers practical problems.