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The Lesser Evil Argument Works Because It Can Always Get Worse and It Will With the Greater Evil

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Annabel Park was a big Bernie supporter. Deeply angry with the DNC and Hillary Clinton, she flirted with third partyism. But she has realized just how horrible Trump would be and wrote this op-ed urging Bernie supporters to get behind her. It’s an excellent piece to share with those who are still refusing to vote for the shebeast $hillery!

After that, I started talking to friends of mine who, like me, had poured so much into supporting Bernie, and found the idea of voting for Clinton after the intense, bitter primary hard to stomach. Many of the Bernie supporters I spoke to think the United States can’t get much worse, but I know firsthand that it can. Until I was 10 years old, I lived in South Korea while it was ruled by dictator Park Chung-hee, who came into power through a military coup d’état. I remember the curfews, the constant fear of authority figures, the pressure to conform and the fear of speaking up. I have seen how quickly citizens can lose civil liberties and rights, how quickly we can get to the point we’re afraid to meet in public places to protest.

Like dictators and authoritarians of the past, Trump has a playbook for power that includes targeting journalists and activists, branding dissidents as enemies to foster a culture of conformity, fostering a culture of violence and bullying against minorities, controlling women through sexual humiliation and by taking away reproductive rights, and blocking a democratic path to regime change by undermining our voting rights.

These tactics have clearly made a cultural impact in America even though Trump the candidate has yet to gain institutional power. Violent hate crimes against Muslim Americans are escalating, and teachers are reporting that there’s more bullying in schools. If Trump comes to power and has even more authority and legitimacy, circumstances could feasibly worsen. People’s willingness to gamble the outcome of this election puts the most vulnerable members of our society in harm’s way.

As president, Trump and his brand of extremism would have more than a cultural outlet. Through their appointees, presidents have power in our everyday lives. Cabinet appointments and department hires run powerful federal agencies including the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, Department of Defense, State Department, Department of Interior and more. Trump and his campaign have mentioned these right-wing extremists as potential appointees: Rudy Giuliani, Joe Arpaio, Sarah Palin, Ben Carson, Chris Christie and Forrest Lucas, oil executive and animal rights opponent for Department of Interior. Perhaps scariest of all, Myron Ebell, a leading climate-change denier, is expected to head Trump’s EPA. Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, is a fundamentalist Christian who pushed extreme anti-LGBT and anti-reproductive rights legislation as governor. With an administration like this, dissidents like Sanders supporters would have little hope of exerting any kind of influence.

There’s a good reason why lesser evil voting is a compelling and almost unanswerable argument. It’s that the greater evil is going to be far, far worse. Someone whose family has lived under a dictatorship has a much better chance of understanding that than a white middle-class American college student. But if they want radical change in the United States and Trump gets elected, they will understand it pretty damn fast. Maybe there’s nothing we can do to convince these lefties voting for Johnson or Stein to vote for Hillary, but we do have to try. And Park’s piece is a really good way to try.

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