Hold Your Nose and Vote

… for the lesser of two evils (again). Or so it seems, barring some unexpected turn of events.

Ever since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, Spirited Reasoners have endured a succession of general election campaigns in which they have been asked to choose between the lesser of two evils.

This past week, we heard Joe Biden deny, in words that not all that convincing, the sexual assault allegations of his former staffer, Tara Reade. She is not the only woman who has complained about improper physical touching on the part of Biden. No fewer than eight women have made that claim, and others may be too frightened to come forward.

What are Spirited Reasoners to do?

In 1968, we were asked to guess whether Hubert Humphrey, the man who had stood loyally beside his boss, Lyndon Johnson, as the latter steered the United States from one disaster to another in Vietnam, would be a better president than Richard Nixon, the man who later proved that he was willing to endorse a burglary of Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel. Americans held their noses and voted for Nixon.

In 2016, we were asked to choose between a man who laughed about groping women and a woman who had enabled her husband to do the same. A majority of Americans voted for the woman but watched the Electoral College hand the election to Donald Trump.

Now, in 2020, it seems we’re left to choose between two men, both of whom apparently believe it was okay to use their money and power to facilitate sexual assault.

There are good arguments that the purists who voted for Ralph Nader during the 2000 election for reasons of “principle” saw that purity result in the election of George W. Bush over Al Gore, when Nader’s votes were sufficient to siphon off just enough votes to cause Gore to lose all of Florida’s electoral votes.

So, given the fact that a vote for a third-party candidate probably just helps one of the main party candidates, what exactly are Spirited Reasoners to do?

We do what we have done in all those other elections when faced with choosing the lesser of two evils. We hold our collective noses and vote.

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