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Jun 28 2012

Ted Rall on the trade-offs that we face in election years

The political cartoonist has the knack of telling uncomfortable truths by putting things in stark contrast.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    Wtfbits

    So true. There is no moral difference between democrats & republicans and those who vote for them.

  2. 2
    vel

    as soon as you find a perfect candidate/politician, just make sure you let everyone else know.

  3. 3
    josh

    In fairness, there is no reason to think that Romney isn’t a warmongering drone murderer, who ALSO is opposed to a lot of decent things that Obama supports. This is really the Ron Paul argument, which I think is important for reminding us of just how bad the lesser evil can still be, but which I never bought as a good reason to vote Ron Paul because I don’t think he would actually improve things overall.

  4. 4
    Marcus Ranum

    This is a basic problem with the “lesser of two evils” argument: the known evil is clearly evil, whereas the other is hypothetical evil. Romney might turn out to be the greatest president ever, while Obama has already shown what he is capable of.

    If you break it down into simple moral terms, it’s the question of whether you’d rather vote for someone who has committed murder and gotten away with it, rather than someone who is likely to commit murder but who hasn’t, yet.

    Voting for the lesser of two evils is not a moral position, since you’re knowingly voting for an (admitted) evil. A better thing to do is to reject the political system entirely, on the basis that the social contract* has been broken, repeatedly, and is void. If Americans were rational, we would disempower the government with a tax revolt and insist that the shell of “representative democracy” be removed in favor of a direct democracy** We’d need some serious structural changes to the constitution, as well, namely that the power to commit troops or police outside of the country’s borders would require a popular supermajority and that the budgeting process would automatically kick in with last years’ budget if the people didn’t approve the new budget with a supermajority when it’s up for renewal.

    It’s that or sit back and watch the police state evolve and collapse under its own weight. Which wouldn’t be entirely bad. The British did a good job of passing their empire off and the US picked it up. If there’s one smart thing we could be doing it’s figuring out how to peacefully transition ours to the Chinese if they’re stupid enough to want it.

    (* I actually have always rejected the notion of a social contract. How can I agree to terms and conditions that were drawn up and imposed on me at birth? What part of the laws under which I am expected to live did I get a chance to agree with?)

    (** Please don’t say “but the people don’t have time to pay attention to all that legislation!” That’s nonsensical. There are ways a government could be constructed with a debating body to air issues before they proceeded to a plebiscite. We’re just told “it would be too hard” by the oligarchs. What a coincidence.)

  5. 5
    Jandorian

    Ted Rall ignores that Romney’s stated positions are yes to drone strikes, yes to bellicosity regarding Iran, and yes to Gitmo/waterboarding/renditions. So there is no trade-off calculation being made motivated solely by self-interest. We’ll get those “bad” things with EITHER candidate. If anything, Obama’s stated positions are still more restrained than Romney’s stated positions on these “trade-off” issues. The choice isn’t one of tolerating bad foreign policies to get desirable domestic ones. You get “better” domestic policies AND the same or “better” foreign policies.

  6. 6
    'Tis Himself

    I actually have always rejected the notion of a social contract. How can I agree to terms and conditions that were drawn up and imposed on me at birth? What part of the laws under which I am expected to live did I get a chance to agree with?

    Mike Huben considers the social contract in his Non-Libertarian FAQ:

    Social Contract? I never signed no steenking social contract.

    The constitution and the laws are our written contracts with the government.

    There are several explicit means by which people make the social contract with government. The commonest is when your parents choose your residency and/or citizenship after your birth. In that case, your parents or guardians are contracting for you, exercising their power of custody. No further explicit action is required on your part to continue the agreement, and you may end it at any time by departing and renouncing your citizenship.

    Immigrants, residents, and visitors contract through the oath of citizenship (swearing to uphold the laws and constitution), residency permits, and visas. Citizens reaffirm it in whole or part when they take political office, join the armed forces, etc. This contract has a fairly common form: once entered into, it is implicitly continued until explicitly revoked. Many other contracts have this form: some leases, most utility services (such as phone and electricity), etc.

  7. 7
    ollie

    I’d be curious to know what type of policies toward Al Qeada that people approve of.

  8. 8
    Marcus Ranum

    ‘Tis Himself argues:
    The constitution and the laws are our written contracts with the government.

    Nice assertion. Are you a Rawlsian, Rousseauian, Lockian, or …what? Random authoritian? A reference to some blog posting is, what? impressive.

    I did not agree to any of the current laws under which I am presumed to operate, nor (as I discern) did I have any hand in their promulgation. I do not agree with them in the slightest nor do they represent my opinion. If the authority of the state comes from the consent of the governed, where and when did I consent? And how?

    And can we dispense with the fiction that my parents “owned” me and could therefore act on my behalf until I was able to tell them where to shove it?

    Stateists have often told atonomous individuals that they must obey the dictates of the state, and often we submit to their compulsion, but if you look at what you call a “social contract” it’s only a bit more mutual than a direct assertion of ownership. I have certainly benefitted from this society and I have paid plenty in taxes, but asserting inheritable legislature is something for slave-owners.

  9. 9
    Marcus Ranum

    Shorter ‘Tis:
    You may ‘a not believe in’a the state, but the state’a she’a believes inna you.

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