You are hereBlogs / davidswanson's blog / Lesser-Evil Math Doesn't Compute: Freedom Plaza Has the Same Name as Tahrir Square

Lesser-Evil Math Doesn't Compute: Freedom Plaza Has the Same Name as Tahrir Square

By davidswanson - Posted on 11 April 2011

In an electoral system corrupted by money, media, and parties, the U.S. people are offered a choice every four years between two hideously awful candidates for an office that increasingly resembles an imperial throne. And increasingly the primary motivation of voters is to oppose the candidate they believe is the greater evil.

Thus, we chose Obama over McCain in 2008. But Obama in 2008, as the lesser of the two evil candidates, was arguably a greater evil than George W. Bush had been four or eight years earlier, or Bob Dole 12 years back, or certainly Bush senior 16 years before. None of those previous candidates campaigned on as militaristic, corporatist, plutocratic or power-abusing a platform as Obama did in 2008. Sure, he's worse in office than his campaign rhetoric suggested, and so were they. But, whether you compare campaign promises to campaign promises or actual performance to actual performance, we are on a downward slide that continues whether or not we elect the lesser evil candidates.

Kerry, Clinton, Dukakis, Mondale, and Carter were lesser-evil candidates as well, but arguably worse than either of the two big candidates in each of the elections that preceded them. Nobody when I was a kid could have imagined someone like Obama as the greater evil candidate, much less the lesser evil candidate. If you look at the national trends toward militarism, an imperial presidency, the concentration of wealth, the erosion of civil liberties, the privatization of the public sphere, the selling out of the environment, et cetera, et cetera, the two candidates in each presidential election tend to agree on policies worse than what either candidate would have accepted four, or at least eight, years before.

Try to imagine Reagan and Carter debating, and largely agreeing on (since most debates are largely lovefests) such topics as ending Social Security, eliminating Habeas Corpus, torturing and assassinating, "legal" warrantless spying, a military as large and powerful as today's, legislation by signing statement and executive order and secret OLC memo, corporate trade agreements, the elimination of public unions, the privatization of schools, and massive bailouts for Wall Street.

Of course, there are lots of factors contributing to this downhill slide, but there is one action that could put a stop to it within four or eight years. We could all refuse to support candidates that make things worse than they were in the past, even if it risks allowing the greater of two evils to win an election or two. "Are You In?" they will ask us. "Are YOU Insane?" we will respond.

The result, after a cycle or two, would be decisive support for decent candidates in both general elections and primaries. But this would only work if accomplished not by staying home and silent but by staying out and visible. Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., has the same name as Tahrir Square in Cairo. If we were to pack it with millions of Americans and march to and nonviolently shut down the Capitol, the White House, and the Pentagon, our voices would be heard. Then, and only then, could we communicate our refusal to any longer support a momentary lesser evil who is historically a greater evil than what has gone before.

David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie"


Speaking Events


War Is A Lie: Second Edition
Book Tour

May 29, Oakland, CA
3 to 4 p.m., David Swanson interviewed by Cindy Sheehan, at Diesel: A Bookstore, 5433 College Avenue at Kales (near Manila), Oakland, CA
Sign up on FB.

May 29, Berkeley, CA
7:30 to 9 p.m., David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, sponsored by the Social Justice Committee and Cynthia Papermaster, 1606 Bonita Ave. (at Cedar), Berkeley, CA
Sign up on FB.

May 30, Fresno, CA
2 to 4 p.m., David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan at a Peace Fresno event
Community United Church of Christ
5550 N. Fresno Street
Fresno, CA 93710
Contact Dan Yaseen 559-251-3361,
Sign up on FB.

June 11 St. Paul, MN, 6 p.m. at Macalester Plymouth Church Social Hall 1658 Lincoln, St. Paul, MN.
Sign up on FB.

June 12 Minneapolis, MN, 9 and 11 a.m. at St. Joan's 4533 3rd Ave So, Minneapolis, MN, plus peace pole dedication at 2 p.m.
Sign up on FB.


June 24 Roanoke, Va.
7:30 pm @ Unitarian Universalist Church of Roanoke (2015 Grandin Rd SW, Roanoke, VA 24015). Contact:
Sign up on FB.


Other Events Here.








Support This Site


Get free books and gear when you become a supporter.



Speaking Truth to Empire


Families United


Ray McGovern


Financial supporters of this site can choose to be listed here.

Buy Books

Get Gear

The log-in box below is only for bloggers. Nobody else will be able to log in because we have not figured out how to stop voluminous spam ruining the site. If you would like us to have the resources to figure that out please donate. If you would like to receive occasional emails please sign up. If you would like to be a blogger here please send your resume.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.