13 votes

For proponents of "vote for the lesser of two evils", what is your endgame?

If I understand folks with that PoV correctly:

if you are a democrat or typically vote democrat, you generally think that republicans are a danger to democracy, bad for the lives of minorities, and the disadvantaged/LGBT+, etc.
If you are a republican or typically vote republican, you generally think that democrats are a danger to democracy, divide the country with identity politics, etc.
(obviously I am making sweeping generalizations of both camps off the top of my head but hopefully the point comes across)

But, I don't get what your endgame is. Like, you make it seem like if the other party wins, the country is screwed. but you can't possibly think that the country will forever vote for your party for President, right? So you think America is destined to go downhill depending on how many years the opposing party is in power?

America flips between red and blue. So the other party is bound to win at least once a decade imo. and yet I hear how democracy is more at stake now than it's ever been if "the other party wins". So I don't get the long-term viability of "lesser of 2 evils" approach.

Since I doubt America will become less angry and divisive anytime soon thanks to yallls 24 hour news networks and the social media companies that make more money the more Americans are mad at each other.

Then again, I am by no means an expert so where am I wrong or have I misunderstood something?

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19 comments

  1. [6]
    stu2b50
    Link
    I think you're making it too complicated. This "strategy" is just called being a rational actor - you vote for the side that most closely aligns with your own beliefs. No more, no less. The party...

    I think you're making it too complicated. This "strategy" is just called being a rational actor - you vote for the side that most closely aligns with your own beliefs. No more, no less.

    So the other party is bound to win at least once a decade imo. and yet I hear how democracy is more at stake now than it's ever been if "the other party wins".

    The party of Trump is not the GOP that ran John McCain and Mitt Romney, and it may not be the GOP of tomorrow. Democracy is more at stake than ever because of the particulars of the candidates. No one particularly worried about democracy when Mitt Romney ran against Obama.

    53 votes
    1. CannibalisticApple
      Link Parent
      Yep. I think "vote for the lesser evil" has always been the general mindset for voting. Right now though, it's being hammered into people's heads more than ever because there are people refusing...

      Yep. I think "vote for the lesser evil" has always been the general mindset for voting. Right now though, it's being hammered into people's heads more than ever because there are people refusing to vote for Biden solely because of his handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict. Ignoring the fact that there's no reason to believe Trump would have a different stance once he's in office, just this one issue.

      If Republicans win the presidency this year, it really can mean the end of democracy in the United States. I haven't looked into Project 2025 myself because just the bare details I've heard, and my four years of increasing stress under the Trump administration, are chilling. Trump did enough damage to the country in four years when there wasn't an organized plan and coordination among the Republican Party. I don't WANT to look at it when it's an active possibility.

      The future is more uncertain than ever before, and unfortunately, the state of America has a major impact on the rest of the world.

      So right now, most people are focused on getting through this election and the chaos that will follow, because democracy itself is at stake. Hopefully we'll then be able to properly try Donald Trump in court without the looming election creating a deadline, so we remove the risk of him taking office ever again. And from there, hopefully the current Republican Party will fragment more without their main figurehead. With luck, at least two of the current Supreme Court Justices might also retire in the next four years so Biden or Harris can appoint replacements and help fix the currently imbalanced court.

      Just... We CAN'T think of a super long-term plan right now, because we have to get through this election cycle first.

      20 votes
    2. [2]
      b3_k1nd_rw1nd
      Link Parent
      you really think Trump is the issue and not just a symptom of the deeper divisiveness in America?

      you really think Trump is the issue and not just a symptom of the deeper divisiveness in America?

      5 votes
      1. stu2b50
        Link Parent
        Both, at the same time. In the end, the MAGA faction is less than 25% of the electorate at most. It's not a majority by any means. If you look at the last midterm, MAGA candidates did horribly...

        Both, at the same time. In the end, the MAGA faction is less than 25% of the electorate at most. It's not a majority by any means. If you look at the last midterm, MAGA candidates did horribly flat out, which is only accentuated by the extremely favorable environment for them (when moderate republican candidates did as expected, very well, in New York and elsewhere).

        If Trump loses the next election, then in addition to cementing his overall weakness as a candidate, just natural human bodily decomposition will mark the end of his electoral attempts. There are no heirs to his brief but brightly burning faction. It is unlikely to continue to be kingmakers in the party. They can't even bend the Speaker to their will anymore.

        That's not to say that Republicans will change coat entirely, but that it will be once again a party of political insiders who would very much like the system that gives them power to begin with to continue.


        To address your other post, it does not matter. Like and dislike are relative terms. As a rational actor, you have some set of beliefs on what you think the government should do. Out of the eligible candidates, you should vote for the candidate that most closely aligns with that. It's all relative.

        In mathematical terms, you project the vector that represents your ideals on the vectorspace of candidates. It doesn't matter if the magnitude of the dot product is low, just pick the maximum. That's how you get closer to what you want. Any positive magnitude is larger than 0 by definition.

        27 votes
    3. [2]
      b3_k1nd_rw1nd
      Link Parent
      I also disagree with that characterization. Some people using that strategy dislike both but just dislike one party more than the other.

      you vote for the side that most closely aligns with your own beliefs.

      I also disagree with that characterization. Some people using that strategy dislike both but just dislike one party more than the other.

      1. Eji1700
        Link Parent
        I think you're misunderstanding their point. The side that most closely aligns with your own beliefs is RARELY the side you like and OFTEN the side you dislike the least.

        I think you're misunderstanding their point.

        The side that most closely aligns with your own beliefs is RARELY the side you like and OFTEN the side you dislike the least.

        15 votes
  2. nosewings
    (edited )
    Link
    One answer to this question is that, to a certain extent, every election is a "least of n evils" situation. You will never get a perfect candidate that you agree 100% on everything with,...

    One answer to this question is that, to a certain extent, every election is a "least of n evils" situation. You will never get a perfect candidate that you agree 100% on everything with, especially in a two party system. So you suck it up and vote for the best option. If you're still unhappy, you should do more than just vote.

    So the other party is bound to win at least once a decade imo

    The parties change over time. If Democrats keep winning, Republicans will have to shift to the left in order to capture more votes. This is a good thing.

    My question would be: if you're not voting for the "lesser of two evils", then what is your endgame? Just let the Republicans install as many Supreme Court justices as they want? Keep in mind that the Trumpist faction of the party essentially wants to dismantle the administrative state and institute a one-party system.

    24 votes
  3. gpl
    Link
    In the short term? Minimize harm to people and communities I care about. If you read about basically any of the policies Trump wants to enact in a second term, they are genuinely authoritarian. He...

    In the short term? Minimize harm to people and communities I care about. If you read about basically any of the policies Trump wants to enact in a second term, they are genuinely authoritarian. He and the rest of the party have proven that they do not care about democracy and actively want to undermine it. I do not think this is hyperbole, and I think it is a uniquely different danger than in the past.

    In the intermediate term, I want us to reform our voting system to make a multiparty system possible and to lessen the influence of money in our elections. Both of these will make it so that we don’t have to vote for the lesser of two evils. But until that’s the case, we have to work with the in the system we’re given, and I think there is a clear choice that will minimize harm.

    Are you asking something else and I’m misunderstanding?

    19 votes
  4. Deimos
    (edited )
    Link
    This subject always ends up becoming extremely antagonistic because nobody's actually interested in changing their view, so I can't see this thread going anywhere productive. If you're genuinely...

    This subject always ends up becoming extremely antagonistic because nobody's actually interested in changing their view, so I can't see this thread going anywhere productive.

    If you're genuinely interested in knowing more about it, this aspect of the US political system has been argued to death all over the internet for decades. I'm sure that with a bit of searching you'd be able to find more than enough to read.

    15 votes
  5. legogizmo
    Link
    The end game is to move away from our current voting system to one that will actually allow us to vote for someone, like Score or STAR voting (Not Ranked Choice Voting!) Until then our current...

    The end game is to move away from our current voting system to one that will actually allow us to vote for someone, like
    Score or STAR voting (Not Ranked Choice Voting!)

    Until then our current system incentives us to vote for the lesser of two evils. To do anything else just doesn't make sense.

    11 votes
  6. Wish_for_a_dragon
    Link
    There have been very few elections in my lifetime, or even within the last century, that I would truthfully consider that liberal (small L) democracy was in any way at stake in the US. The closest...

    But, I don't get what your endgame is. Like, you make it seem like if the other party wins, the country is screwed. but you can't possibly think that the country will forever vote for your party for President, right? So you think America is destined to go downhill depending on how many years the opposing party is in power?

    There have been very few elections in my lifetime, or even within the last century, that I would truthfully consider that liberal (small L) democracy was in any way at stake in the US. The closest may have been either FDR with 4 consecutive terms (though the argument d be made due to WWII), or G. W. Bush having been selected via Supreme Court decision. However, neither of them made explicit their desire for revenge against their political opponents (both real and imagined).

    Given this explicit statement, adding to this the solid bloc of blind followers willing to risk jail to defend someone whom they see as godlike, and will do anything he tells them to, I have actual fears of the future of the government under Trump in a second term.

    So, you ask what my endgame is? It’s the quite literal survival of the American system of government as a liberal democracy. I say this having lived through 9/11 and the Reagan years.

    10 votes
  7. Eric_the_Cerise
    Link
    In the past 5-10 years, I have gradually drifted over to the Democratic perspective. Prior to that, however, I have leaned Republican going back to the '80s. Except I've never actually supported...

    In the past 5-10 years, I have gradually drifted over to the Democratic perspective. Prior to that, however, I have leaned Republican going back to the '80s.

    Except I've never actually supported any Republican candidates (I did like Romney, and I loved McCain--literally except for the year he actually ran, when he temporarily became a wacko, presumably to woo the crazier part of the Republican base) ... because since the '80s, the Republican Party has not really embodied the principles it claims to, and worse, has become steadily more batshit crazy over the decades, forcing me to choose the Party I generally disagree with, but have to flatly acknowledge as "the lesser of two evils".

    However, the real issue has always been the political "don't throw your vote away" duopoly of the US system. People there keep forgetting that there is a whole world outside of the US, with liberal democratic governments that aren't so horrifically limited. There are something like 15 different political parties currently represented in the House of Representatives in the Netherlands; no single party ever wins a majority, and the winners always have to compromise and work with multiple parties' goals and priorities.

    In other words, you get to vote for the candidate you actually like. That is actually a viable electoral system. The Netherlands is an extreme example, but most electoral systems in the EU are similar, with generally 5+ different parties vying for positions, and the top party often winning a plurality but not a majority, forcing them to form a coalition government with one or more other parties.

    It is also well worth remembering that the US duopoly is not in any way required, not according to the US Constitution. It is a system that has developed gradually, with the two primary parties steadily, intentionally creating ever more obstacles and boundaries for any viable 3rd (or 4th or 5th) party, explicitly to create this black-and-white, us-vs-them electoral environment.

    8 votes
  8. RoyalHenOil
    Link
    The Republican Party is on a rapid path of self-destruction. It is not sustainable in its current form. My guess is that within the next 10 years or so, the Republican Party will either remake...

    The Republican Party is on a rapid path of self-destruction. It is not sustainable in its current form. My guess is that within the next 10 years or so, the Republican Party will either remake itself into something more stable or it will disintegrate. If it disintegrates, we will see another party (maybe the Libertarian Party?) rise up to become the Democrats' main rival or we will see the Democrat Party split apart into two parties.

    None of this in unprecedented. Parties are born, parties change, and parties die. It happens in other countries all the time, and it has happened several times in US history; we are honestly long overdue.

    My hope is to see the US make it through this rocky transition period with as little collateral damage as possible. That means containing the Republican implosion as best we can until the party either finishes dying or transforming.

    6 votes
  9. [6]
    R3qn65
    Link
    Do you mean "so why do you believe [that the other party is evil]" or "so why do you keep only voting for one party" or something else? Basically, this is what I'm asking - What approach are you...

    But, I don't get what your endgame is.

    Do you mean "so why do you believe [that the other party is evil]" or "so why do you keep only voting for one party" or something else?

    Basically, this is what I'm asking -

    So I don't get the long-term viability of "lesser of 2 evils" approach.

    What approach are you referring to here?

    1. [5]
      b3_k1nd_rw1nd
      Link Parent
      I think what I mean is the fact that America flips between blue and red and hasn't self-destructed kinda proves the "democracy will die if the other side wins" argument wrong. And you might make...

      Do you mean "so why do you believe [that the other party is evil]" or "so why do you keep only voting for one party" or something else?

      I think what I mean is the fact that America flips between blue and red and hasn't self-destructed kinda proves the "democracy will die if the other side wins" argument wrong.

      And you might make the argument that "well Trump was unwilling to accept defeat and was the reason for the January 6th riots" and proves that another Republican presidency might finish the end of democracy that the previous one started, my question then becomes "so you are basically hoping that America never has a republican president again?"

      1 vote
      1. koopa
        Link Parent
        The United States has also never had a coup attempt by a president that lost the election but refused to accept the results. And that very person is the Republican nominee. This isn’t Mitt Romney,...

        I think what I mean is the fact that America flips between blue and red and hasn't self-destructed kinda proves the "democracy will die if the other side wins" argument wrong.

        The United States has also never had a coup attempt by a president that lost the election but refused to accept the results. And that very person is the Republican nominee. This isn’t Mitt Romney, Trump is an authoritarian who’s first term pushed American institutions to their limits. Another would be a disaster.

        Trump is no normal politician and electing him would not give you “normal” results. Especially because this time he knows exactly the institutions and people who stopped his authoritarian demands last time and he’ll make sure there are yes men there this time.

        The choice is simple, vote for democracy or potentially never have a fair election again.

        The only way to bring back a reasonable Republican Party that is at the very minimum accepting of liberal democracy is to make them lose elections until they figure out they cannot nominate authoritarians if they want to win.

        9 votes
      2. gpl
        Link Parent
        If the Republican party continues on the course it has been on, then yes, I hope we never have another Republican president.

        If the Republican party continues on the course it has been on, then yes, I hope we never have another Republican president.

        8 votes
      3. R3qn65
        Link Parent
        I don't feel that way and it seems a bit like a strawman argument to me, but it's not a completely crazy sentiment. If you think your group has better ideas than the other guys, why wouldn't you...

        my question then becomes "so you are basically hoping that America never has a republican president again?"

        I don't feel that way and it seems a bit like a strawman argument to me, but it's not a completely crazy sentiment. If you think your group has better ideas than the other guys, why wouldn't you want your group to stay in power forever?

        I recognize there are arguments against that. I'm just pointing out that it's not nearly as crazy of a position as you seem to be implying.

        7 votes
      4. Tigress
        Link Parent
        I absolutely hope America doesn’t have another Republican candidate. Honestly I think the best thing that could happen is the Republican Party implodes and that leaves people in the Democrat party...

        I absolutely hope America doesn’t have another Republican candidate. Honestly I think the best thing that could happen is the Republican Party implodes and that leaves people in the Democrat party free to split (cause honestly I would bet it would cause right now it has many people who would have been conservative except the repub party has gone insane).

        If you think it’s all the same as in the past you haven’t been paying attention. I never liked the Republican Party and it’s been showing signs of what it’s become since at least I was born if not before (and I’m almost 50) but the repub party of the 90’s was not near as dysfunctional as today. You could really start seeing more obvious signs after 9/11 and then having a black president brought the racism out more and the Republican Party really showing they cared more about obstructionism then actually helping the country (McConnell outright said they would make sure to make anything the democrats do fail just cause the democrats proposed it). And then we got Trump. Who is more a symptom of the problem but as others explained to you cause of his cult of personality and the republicans more and more getting things in like controlling the Supreme Court who is supposed to keep a check on the rest of govt, yes, we are in danger of the republicans and Trump killing off democracy.

        4 votes