It is very commonly claimed that voting in presidential elections is a matter of choosing the ‘lesser of two evils.’ The justification for this sort of thinking is usually a kind of quasi-consequentialist argument that might look something like this: If I vote for a ‘good’ candidate that is not one of the two main candidates, then my vote is wasted, i.e., my vote will not have any actual positive effect on the world. This is no doubt a very conventional way of thinking about voting practices, but is it the best way of thinking? Does the thinking of the Subversive Sage diverge in any way from this convention, and if so, how?
At first glance, it is difficult to see what might be wrong with the above argument, even from a Christopic perspective. After all, aren’t we supposed to be working on ushering in the kingdom? And can we do that if the means we employ do not accomplish that end? Can we, for example, make sure that the least of these are taken care of if we do not choose ‘the lesser of two evils,’ i.e., the one who will take slightly better care of the least of these?
It seems, however, that Jesus’ ethic is far less compromising than conventional ways of thinking. Indeed, there is a tension between the conventional consequentialist view and what we might call Jesus’ eschatological consequentialism, which is just a fancy way of saying that Jesus’ commands are guided by a concern for the consequences that will occur at the end of time. There is a recurring theme throughout the gospels that runs something like this: This is not all there is…
What does this mean for compromising and consequentialist voting conventions?