Negative Politics

We are all familiar with the lesser-of-two-evils argument, according to which you vote for the duopoly candidate with whom you disagree less, whether or not there is a third party candidate who represents your positions best because otherwise the duopoly candidate with whom you disagree more may win. Arguably, a significant number of voters cast their ballots on the basis of this logic. Ironically, many then wonder why politics is so negative. Yet even this is not the height of negativity within the two-party system.

Elisabeth at Talking to Myself is sad because her best friend voted for Obama, whom Elisabeth thinks is "a con artist and salesman with no moral center" (he is a politician, after all). After visiting, the friend realized that Cynthia McKinney best represented her views, but since the Green Party candidate did not appear on her state's ballot (Georgia), she ended up voting for Obama. Curious, Elisabeth took the Glassbooth political quiz herself and found that she was most in line with the positions of Bob Barr. However, because Elizabeth ascribes to the lesser-of-two-evils argument, it is likely that she voted for McCain. She writes: "if you disagree with someone, I think it is important to vote for the person most likely to keep them out of office." In other words, she cast her vote not for the candidate with whom she disagreed less, but rather against the candidate with whom she disagreed more. The duopoly is maintained, in this case, by a double negation. But this logic may proove unsustainable. Elisabeth continues, "I don't know what I think about the two party system . . . but I know I don't want to be part of the Republican party itself."

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