Saturday, March 18, 2023

The lesser evil

Charles C.W. Cooke, annoyed with some of his critics, explains the difference between his role as an advocate and his responsibility as a voter in an imperfect world: the choices we all have to make between the perfect and the possible.
.... As a commentator, I seek perfection: Each day, I lay out the contours of my ideal world, argue precisely what I think about issues and candidates, honor my conscience, and try to persuade people to my side. As a voter, I live in the world as it actually exists. A useful analogy is with someone who is trying to make a business deal. When I am writing, I lay out unsparingly what I would get out of politics if I had everything my own way. When voting — when bartering with others, that is — I must inevitably settle for much less. ...[T]here is no tension whatsoever between these two roles unless I attempt to square my own opinions with the compromises I’m obliged to make as a voter. “I don’t especially like this candidate, but, in the booth, I preferred him to his opponent” is a legitimate take for even the most punctilious of ideologues. ....

Unless a given candidate has disqualified himself from consideration by doing something genuinely unforgivable — as Donald Trump did when he attempted to stage a coup in 2021 — the important question for me as a voter is not whether I am able to get everything I want from him, but whether I prefer him to his opponents. That I may strongly disagree with him on some important things — that I no doubt will disagree with him on some important things — is immaterial. In the electoral realm, the choice is either/or. ....
Charles C.W. Cooke, "You Can Criticize a Candidate and Still Vote for Him," National Review, March 17, 2023.

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