Let’s say you live in a small town during a mayoral election. There are only two candidates running for mayor that have any chance of winning.
The first candidate is a convicted child murderer, having murdered 40 kids in his past. This is not an accusation, it’s a matter of fact and record. The guy doesn’t even deny it (though obviously he doesn’t like talking about it).
The second candidate is also a convicted child murder. He’s murdered 35 kids in his past. Again, this is a matter of record and isn’t disputed by anyone, including people in his own campaign.
You’re a registered voter in your town, and want what’s best for your town. How do you handle this odd scenario? Both candidates are clearly evil people who have done evil things and are likely to do evil things in the future.
If you were irrational, you would do the following…
You would go on the attack against the guy who murdered 40 children, and spend the next several months telling everyone you know about how horrible the town would be if this horrible child murderer got into office. You’d go online and research all the horrible things this murderer has ever said and done and throw it in the face of everyone you talked to.
If anyone countered you, saying that you’re supporting someone who has also murdered children, you’d snort and say that your guy was “better” because he (or she) “only” murdered 35 children. You’d be sure to put the word “only” in front of that 35 number to make the number sound less significant.
If you were really pressed on it, you might grudgingly agree that voting for a child murderer might be a bad thing, but you’d quickly add that a person who’s murdered 35 kids is clearly less bad than someone who’s murdered 40. If we’re going to have one of these disgusting murderers run our city, you’d say, we might as well vote for the one who’s done less murdering.
You would keep saying this, over and over again, to the point where you actually believed it. Soon, you would end up actually wanting the 35-child murderer for mayor and be very scared and/or angry at the thought that the 40-child murderer might be elected.
Let’s say that in the next mayoral election, once again, two child murderers were the only two candidates with any chance of winning. Let’s say that you kept right on voting for the murderer who you thought was “better,” or at least “less bad.” This kept happening to this town over and over again.
Obviously, the voter I just described is a madman. This voter would willfully vote for child murderers repeatedly while brainwashed into thinking he was doing something good.
Soon, the city government would be full of child murderers, and many children would start dying mysterious deaths. Yet this voter would keep voting for these people, with great fervor.
Since everyone kept voting for the lesser of two evils, the town would slowly become more and more evil, until it collapsed entirely. There is no other possible result.
That’s if you were irrational. What if you were a rational, clear-thinking person instead?
First off, you wouldn’t even consider voting for anyone who’s murdered any children in their past, for any reason. It wouldn’t matter if the person had murdered 40 kids, 35 kids, or even one child. Watching people people actually engage in debate about murderers of 40 kids or 35 kids being better or worse would confuse and sicken you. You’re not going to go vote for child murderers, period. Even the thought of doing so would be abhorrent to you.
The next thing you might do is to see if there was a third option you could vote for, someone who hasn’t killed any kids. However, as I said above, you happen to live in a town where either no one else is running, or where the rules are such that only child murderers ever have any chance of winning. Therefore, voting for a third option might feel good, but doesn’t actually accomplish anything.
Lastly, you’d look around, and see all of your fellow townspeople scream their heads off about how we all need to vote for the person who’s “only” murdered 35 children. Then, if you were a rational person, you’d say, “I live in a town full of insane people. I need to forget about these horrible elections and need to make plans to move somewhere else.”