The lesser evil?

Robert Koehler
Thursday, Jun 13, 2024

The military budget keeps expanding, as racism regroups and becomes nationalism, as corporate power and military-industrialism morph into “just the way things are.”

Sanders in his essay on all this, while noting that “nothing less than the future of our democracy is at stake in this election,” does tell his supporters to push Biden and the Democrats to “begin campaigning on a truly progressive agenda” – raise the minimum wage, make billionaires pay their fair share of taxes, address the needs of working families. Yeah, OK, sure. But he doesn’t mention “stop funding genocide.”

In disturbing contrast, consider Jill Stein and the Green Party, with a platform that includes: demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza; not taking money from AIPAC or war-profiteer lobbyists; ending Israel’s occupation of Palestine and, my God, supporting equality and security for all people in Palestine and Israel.

But you can’t vote Green! That’s unrealistic. You can’t “throw away” your vote just because, you know, you don’t believe in bombing children, erasing a culture, starving people to death. Voting isn’t about transcending militarism or creating a different kind of future We’ll leave that for later. Voting is about . . . what again?

Oh yeah, making sure the lesser evil wins. That’s our job as citizens.

So here are today’s primary questions, which eventually we must all answer: Do I support Joe Biden? Will I vote for him? And beyond that: Will we ever have another election that’s about the greater good – nationally and internationally – rather than the lesser evil? Are we stuck from now on with a two-party nation that renounces further evolution, despite the problems the planet faces? Or has the time come to truly challenge the nation’s military-industrial status quo in this year’s election, no matter the consequences of doing so?

I begin my search for answers by taking a deeper look at the greater evil Trump allegedly represents.

Jeffrey Sachs, for instance, writing about Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right party, notes:

“Likud’s tactical belief is that the US will always be there, thick or thin, because the Israel Lobby (Jewish and Christian Evangelical alike) and the US military-industrial complex will always be there. Likud’s bet has always worked in the past, and they believe it will work in the future. Yes, Israel’s violent extremism will cost Biden the support of America’s young voters, but if so, that will just mean Trump’s election in November, so even better for Likud.”

In other words, a Trump victory would cause the perpetrators of genocide to shout with joy. Indeed, Republicans have lambasted Biden for providing Israel with too little weaponry. Lindsey Graham, blathering on X, seemingly compared Israel’s Gaza assault with the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“The United States used whatever means necessary to end a war of annihilation, Graham wrote. “Israel should be allowed to do what they need to do to win a war they can’t afford to lose.”

Biden, in minimally stunning contrast to the Republican viewpoint, “delayed” a shipment of bombs to Israel on May 8, including some 2,000-pounders. As Stephen Zunes pointed out:

“Though pausing the shipment of 3,500 bombs may not be that significant in light of the estimated 90,000 bombs Israel has dropped on Gaza since October, it should be seen as a reflection of the growing popular opposition to U.S. military support for Israel and, in that sense, a partial political victory for supporters of international humanitarian law.

“This is also the first time Biden has conditioned any aid to Israel. . . .”

So here’s where we are as election season approaches.

The Israel assault isn’t the only matter on the table, of course. Biden, as Sanders noted, walked in a picket line with UAW workers. He’s pro-choice.

He has forgiven some student loan debt and invested money into sustainable energy. Somehow all this matters to me about as much as a scoop of mashed potatoes – at least compared to the hell he’s complicit in inflicting on Gaza.

Excerpted: ‘The Lesser Evil Gambit’.