‘Lesser of two evils is still evil’: Voters, lawmakers on tough presidential choices of 2016

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (L), U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (R) © Reuters
Many Americans long for a knight in shining armor-type candidate who bows to no party to represent them in the White House. But in a system dominated by two parties, voters find themselves in hell, choosing between two not-necessarily lesser evils.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton are two of the most unpopular candidates for the White House in US history, according to multiple polls. Voters are less supporters than they are deciding who’s the least worst candidate.

Billionaire Charles Koch, famous for bankrolling conservative policies, likened the two candidates to deadly illnesses.

“If I had to vote for cancer or heart attack, why would I vote for either?” Koch told Fortune, adding when pressed, “Why do I have to? Are you going to put a gun to my head? I see two people that, as of this point, we’re not supporting,” he said, likely referring to Koch Industries' political action committee.

When asked by Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman which candidate he prefered, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had a more topical comparison, considering the various sexual issues that have come up in this election: “Well, you’re asking me, do I prefer cholera or gonorrhea? Personally, I would prefer neither,” Assange said.

“We are making the decision between the lesser of the two evils, in my opinion,” Senator Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) told the Charleston Post and Courier. “I’m not suggesting they’re both evil. I’m suggesting they’re both bad.”

It’s a view that many voters share, with dire predictions on both sides of the aisle as to what will happen if the opposing party’s candidate wins the White House.

Some Trump voters don’t see the battle as one between two evils, but rather view Clinton as evil incarnate.

“It would be a grave moral evil not to do everything possible to defeat Clinton,” Major General Patrick Henry Brady, one of the United States’ most decorated living military veterans, told WND’s David Kupelian in mid-September. “What she would do is morally, physically and intellectually evil for our country.”

“In this case, I see no ‘lesser evil’,” Brady added. He will be voting for Trump.

Others, however, are only grudgingly voting for the GOP nominee solely because they see him as the lesser evil. In mid-September, a Quinnipiac poll found that a full half of Trump supporters say they are “picking the lesser of two evils.”

Being close to the sausage-making of politics doesn’t make the election any more palatable for some lawmakers, who ‒ like Scott ‒ are holding their noses and voting for Trump.

It’s a view held by their constituents and others around the country.

It’s not any different on the Democratic side of things: Clinton may be bad, but Trump is so much worse for those who are choosing to vote for the former secretary of state.

For Lisa Brouillette on Quora, Clinton is “of course” the lesser of two evils. “Whatever her faults, past mistakes and misdeeds, at least she’s sane,” Brouillette wrote. “Trump of the other hand, sounds like a nutcase, both in tone and in content. ‘Open-minded’ about nuclear war? And there are actually people in America who want this madman’s finger next to the red button?”

“When your choice is two reprehensible, corrupt, and immoral demagogues, you can always pick the ethical way out and choose none of the above. The Republic will survive an election cycle,” David Harsanyi wrote for the National Review. But, he added, “For those who are idealists about the Constitution — and there are probably far fewer than some of us like to imagine — there are a number of reasons to sabotage the Trump party, even if it ends with a Clinton presidency.”

Newspapers, including many that have broken with long-standing tradition, are endorsing Clinton at a rate of 110-0, with nine saying “not Trump” and six opting for Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson. One such paper, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times in Texas, said Clinton “is not, as has been sold, a mere lesser of two evils.” Trump, on the other hand, “is only the intersection for fears and hatreds that already existed and that bring out the worst in the people privileged to live in the world's greatest nation. Using hatred and fear isn't what makes Trump smart. It's what makes him an insult to voters' intelligence.”

Unfortunately for both candidates, “the lesser of two evils is still evil” to many people. Yet they aren’t flocking to third-party candidates like Johnson or the Green Party’s Jill Stein, either. At this point, who ends up as Lucifer versus who ends up as Beelzebub could hinge on voter turnout.

“The options given to the US voters are so dreadful in this election that the lesser-of-two-evils rationale is not that useful anymore,” Gilbert Mercier wrote for Counterpunch. “When democracy is dead, it is hard to decide which corpse is less putrid. The question in this diabolic equation should be: which of the two evils will be more resolutely insane to lead World War III?”