FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Is Lesser Evilism a Compromise with Evil?

by JUSTIN E.H. SMITH

A week ago today, I sent off the final version of my application for Canadian permanent residence, including a copy of my FBI background check (clean), a birth certificate from Washoe County, Nevada, certified copies of my passport and my advanced degrees, and “the important part” a money order for $550. The very same day, I sent a vigorously punctured absentee ballot to the board of elections in Hamilton County, Ohio. If it’s a hanging chad that screws everything up this time around, it won’t be mine.

Had I not been registered to vote in a crucial swing state, as a result of a most unfortunate period of exile right after grad school at a curious university that was really little more than a giant fraternity in the middle of a corn field, I would have done a write-in for a worthy politician, such as Howard Dean, Vaclav Havel, or Dr. Spock. As it was, I had an important decision to make, and the fate of the world, so the editors of the Guardian had determined, was on my shoulders: standard-fare conservatism or aspiring fascism? I fell into the logic of lesser-evilism and, I confess, voted for John Kerry.

Yesterday, my application for permanent residence was returned by the Canadian consulate in Buffalo, stamped in big red letters: INCOMPLETE. Where I was asked to specify any periods of active military service, I had written nothing. The Canadian bureaucrats in Buffalo, it turns out, require every space to be filled in; if an applicant has not served in the military, the proper entry is not nothing, but N/A.

Then today, I got my absentee ballot back in the mail. I had failed to affix adequate postage.

So I’m back where I started. I’m as American as ever, and not a damned bit closer to figuring out how best to use that one vote I’d been granted by virtue of birth, and of the tight job market for Ph.D.s in philosophy.

Had the fates conspired to make me reconsider both my vote and my future?

Could it be that lesser-evilism is in fact, as Bush himself might say, a compromise with Evil? Was I now to recognize this Canadian misadventure for what it was and return to serve my patria? Was I going to have to go back and run for office myself? I could start small. The first Marxist on the Hamilton County school board. Not only would we teach evolution in the public schools, but dialectical materialism, too!

Nonsense. I did what I had to do: I affixed adequate postage to to the absentee ballot, and I filled in the blank boxes on the permanent residence forms with the appropriate N/A’s.

And thus I remain an aspiring Canadian and, as far as the pollsters are concerned, a liberal. Yet I find myself, now more than ever, bound to America as to a beloved teenage son overwhelmed by his hormones, and I find myself more than ever convinced that the Democrats do not have what it takes to pacify this raging brat.

Whence this sense of obligation? I had always considered myself a true cosmopolitan, a citizen of the world, for whom a passport was nothing more than a travel accessory, ontologically no more pertinent to one’s truest, deepest nature than a boarding pass. Why then does America, in this most shameful chapter of its history, command the passionate identification of one of its otherwise most indifferent sons?

I’ll come right out and say that the biggest problem with Canada is that it is boring. It’s honestly all I can do to keep from dozing off the minute my Canadian peers begin their self-congratulatory paeans to the national health care system. Canadians trust their government to do the right thing, and for the most part it does. But in consequence I find that healthy grass- roots contrarianism I know from time spent in wholly corrupt and dysfunctional places like Turkey and Russia largely lacking. One is free of all the turbulence, but only as a castrato is free of passion. I can only hope that the rumors of another Québecois referendum on sovereignty will shake things up a bit.

America, in contrast to Canada, is a mess, and it is exciting. Like Turkey and Russia, America is a place where rational argument plays no part in the political process. Constituencies win out over their opponents not because of the intrinsic superiority of their arguments, but because of their superior brutishness and their superior mastery of the arts of coercion and media manipulation. If the Democrats win, it will only be because they have been manipulated into toeing a party line that is substantially indistinguishable from that of their adversaries.

And this might mean that in America, as in Turkey and Russia, but lord knows not in Canada, if there is ever any real change, it will be the radical kind, the kind that comes not from citizen governors rationally calculating how best to realize justice for all, but from the sheer weight of the citizens, anger at the injustice of a government that has ceased to represent them.

Justin E. H. Smith is a writer living in Montreal, Canada. He may be reached at justismi@alcor.concordia.ca

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Phillip Kim et al.
Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from Former Campaign Staffers
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Convention Con
Lewis Evans
Executing Children Won’t Save the Tiger or the Rhino
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
Chris Odinet
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
David Rovics
The Republicans and Democrats Have Now Switched Places
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Rev. William Alberts
“Law and Order:” Code words for White Lives Matter Most
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
The Artistic Representation of War and Peace, Politics and the Global Crisis
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Elliot Sperber
Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Kathleen Wallace
Feel the About Turn
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Tom H. Hastings
Africa/America
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
Charles R. Larson
Review: B. George’s “The Death of Rex Ndongo”
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail