I may wax and wane in my enthusiasm for voting for Hillary Clinton, but I am firm that I’ll vote for her.
And whatever waning there is, doesn’t mean I think I’m voting for “the lesser evil”.
Greater and lesser evils in politics: such horseshit.
Bernard Crick argued that politics requires pluralism, which in turn creates the conditions in which politics may flourish: that there are differences requires some mechanism for negotiating amongst those differences, and politics (as opposed to technocracy or totalitarianism) provides an open, inclusive, and non-violent way for a citizenry to deal with itself.
Politics is more than this, of course, but that notion of conciliation and compromise are key: if factions are only ever maximalist, only ever all-or-nothing, only ever my-way-or-else, then politics will be ground out of existence.
Which is where my evilism-is-horseshit stance comes from: someone is decried as a lesser evil because she isn’t perfect, is compromised, is too willing to compromise, adheres too closely or not closely enough to the party line, will disappoint, will likely fail.
All politicians fail. Good politicians fail well, bad politicians fail badly, but if politics is about advancing an agenda against competing agendas, then the old cliché sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you means that even the greatest advances will contain losses.
It also means that to advance your position, you’re likely to have to settle, to give something to get something. To compromise.
Yeah, sometimes you can hold the line, and those hard-liners do have a place (tho’ not in leadership) in politics, but if your political adversaries are present in enough numbers to get in your way (which is almost always the case, if not at any one moment then certainly over a relatively short period of time), you’re going to have to pay attention to them. You’re going to have to deal.
As with failing, you can be a good (moves you closer to your goals) or bad (moves you further from your goals) dealer, but if you don’t deal at all you’re not much of a politician, much less a political leader.
To deal is to be political, not to be evil, so any assessment of a politician should not be Does she deal or not but Is she a good dealer or bad dealer?
Again, none of this means candidates, even ones one is waxingly enthusiastic about, are above criticism—criticize away! But criticize them on their politics, not on the fact of their imperfections.
*It’s not that evil doesn’t exist at all in politics—if you’re a genocidal dictator you pretty much fit the definition of an evil leader—but that in ordinary or functioning politics, the evil quotient is going to be pretty low. (I could go full Crick and state that genocidal dictators are anti-politics by definition, and thus fob off evil on the upside-down, but that’s a little too convenient.)