If the lesser of two evils is still evil, when I can, I opt for a third choice; my conscience: my personal values and beliefs, instead.
Sometimes, the only choices you have in life are one choice that sucks big time and another choice that sucks a little less, but they both still suck, period. Sometimes, you can have a whole mess of choices and none of them will please you at the end of the day.
That’s how life works. Work for an employer that you don’t like or who doesn’t respect you, for a regular, reliable paycheck or work for yourself for a less than reliable income and more hours, a lot of times, for no pay at all. Sick with a cold and muddle through for seven days, suffering and sneezing the entire week or take some sort of remedy, even though you hate taking drugs, of any kind, that still makes you feel like crap, but, at least you can breathe through your nose for a couple of hours a day. Stay in a relationship for the sake of the kids where you are always stressed out from fighting and where all parties are miserable or walk away knowing that you will experience hardship for a very long time and you will always be stressed out worrying if you and your kids may end up homeless at any time.
Every choice is a gamble and some, depending on your values may seem evil, but they are choices that sometimes you have to decide which one will have the least negative impact on you or those around you. Sometimes, even the lesser of evils does not work out the way that you planned, but, generally, if you make a choice that is in line with your values, you may have less regrets than if you make the choice that someone else wants you to make. For instance, striking out on your own and building your own business could have a lot more benefits on so many levels than just earning a paycheck working for a company you don’t like. Despite not liking drugs, the benefits of taking a cold-suppressant may make you feel a lot better and a lot more productive than wrestling with sneezing and coughing fits for seven days. Learning to live in a marriage where you are unhappy for a little while longer, at least, may give you and your partner time to rekindle your old relationship, helping you find more happiness, later down the road.
The choices can seem just as daunting when it comes to politics. You are given a choice of politicians or policies that you can’t stand and told to choose “the lesser evil”. For instance, one or both politicians support one or more causes that are important to you, but they have other personal or political issues that you wholeheartedly have problems with. Do you vote for the policies they support or vote against their other issues? Do you vote for the politician that is being fronted by the party that you are aligned with, even if it turns your stomach or do you go out of the mainstream and vote for someone or something else entirely, especially if it is more in line with your own values and beliefs?
I have a somewhat extensive and nuanced political background, which I won’t go into here, except to say that I have always voted and been politically active and vocal, since I was 18, but if I have a choice, I will vote my own conscience before I will vote for any candidate I don’t like, even if they are out of the mainstream and even if it means writing in “John Doe” or checking “none of the above”, because my real choice is not present on a voting ballot.
I refuse to let people use shaming tactics to try and force me to vote for a candidate or a policy that may be slightly “less evil” than another just because they are part of the mainstream or the status quo. If my vote is my voice, then it is even more important for me to be honest, rather than check the box that others wish that I would. I’m willing to do so, even if my voice will be ignored, because, at least, on paper, I voted my values and beliefs.
As a recovering doormat, my vote has been my last stand against bullies. I may not have been able to stand up to my childhood abusers and I may not be able to face off with my workplace bullies, but “gosh darn-it!” I will assert myself in the ballot box and I refuse to vote for anyone or anything that I do not absolutely believe in.
My ancestors were beaten, fought, and died, for my right to vote and I do not take that right for granted. So too, I do not take for granted that I should not vote for ideals or personalities that will take my vote for granted because of my gender, my race, or my socioeconomic status.
Another way that I look at it is that there is no guarantee that me, personally, choosing “the lesser evil” will even guarantee that my choice will even be elected after all ballots are counted. “The greater evil” could still prevail. That, to me, is just as much “a wasted vote” as making a choice independent of “the lesser of two evils”. That is to say, I believe that the only “wasted vote” is the vote not cast, at all. If my vote is going to be wasted on a candidate or policy that may not be chosen, I feel much more strongly that I need to vote my conscience and choose “none of the above”, if that is my only other option.
That philosophy has not always been a winning strategy the day after an election, but I have never woken up the next day and regretted the choice that I made, despite the loss. That is a philosophy that I will continue to, wholeheartedly, embrace.