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:
November 21, 2017
Gregory Elich
What is Behind the Military Coup in Zimbabwe?
Louisa Willcox
Rising Grizzly Bear Deaths Raise Red Flag About Delisting
David Macaray
My Encounter With Charles Manson
Patrick Cockburn
The Greatest Threats to the Middle East are Jared Kushner and Mohamed bin Salman
Stephen Corry
OECD Fails to Recognize WWF Conservation Abuses
James Rothenberg
We All Know the Rich Don’t Need Tax Cuts
Elizabeth Keyes
Let There be a Benign Reason For Someone to be Crawling Through My Window at 3AM!
L. Ali Khan
The Merchant of Weapons
Thomas Knapp
How to Stop a Rogue President From Ordering a Nuclear First Strike
Lee Ballinger
Trump v. Marshawn Lynch
Michael Eisenscher
Donald Trump, Congress, and War with North Korea
Tom H. Hastings
Reckless
Franklin Lamb
Will Lebanon’s Economy Be Crippled?
Linn Washington Jr.
Forced Anthem Adherence Antithetical to Justice
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Do Civilians Become Combatants In Wars Against America?
November 20, 2017
T.J. Coles
Doomsday Scenarios: the UK’s Hair-Raising Admissions About the Prospect of Nuclear War and Accident
Peter Linebaugh
On the 800th Anniversary of the Charter of the Forest
Patrick Bond
Zimbabwe Witnessing an Elite Transition as Economic Meltdown Looms
Sheldon Richman
Assertions, Facts and CNN
Ben Debney
Plebiscites: Why Stop at One?
LV Filson
Yemen’s Collective Starvation: Where Money Can’t Buy Food, Water or Medicine
Thomas Knapp
Impeachment Theater, 2017 Edition
Binoy Kampmark
Trump in Asia
Curtis FJ Doebbler
COP23: Truth Without Consequences?
Louisa Willcox
Obesity in Bears: Vital and Beautiful
Deborah James
E-Commerce and the WTO
Ann Garrison
Burundi Defies the Imperial Criminal Court: an Interview with John Philpot
Robert Koehler
Trapped in ‘a Man’s World’
Stephen Cooper
Wiping the Stain of Capital Punishment Clean
Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail