Natural Law Requires We Vote—Even for the “Lesser Evil”

by Tim Baldwin, Attorney, Republican candidate for House District 4

TimBaldwinA200Many people in the “liberty movement” express their dissatisfaction with the candidates running for Montana governor and other public offices. They claim there is no one worth voting for, or if there is such a worthy candidate, they know he has little to no chance of winning.

These people express, I will vote for no one or for the one who has no chance of winning because I like him. Their decision rests purely on personal preference, not on what is better for the State of Montana. Their logic goes as deep as, “I will not vote for the lesser of two evils”.

This approach to politics does nothing for liberty; it must be rejected. Natural law requires it.

Not Voting For Any Candidate

Not voting for any candidates because you consider even the best candidate to be “evil” shirks a fundamental  civic responsibility. In truth, not voting for any candidate is a vote for them all. The difference is only this: those who choose not to vote for any candidate wash their hands of the outcome and say, “don’t blame me; I didn’t vote for any of them”. This self-praised view ignores reality.

What actually happened is, they voted for each candidate because their non-vote put each candidate on the same footing as the other candidate. The non-voter sees his action as “comporting to his conscience”, but the political reality proves that the non-voter declared by his non-vote that each candidate was worthy of equal vote.

In addition, not voting shirks the citizen’s duty to positively influence the direction of the State. “Positive” does not mean moving 100% in your preferred direction. It means perhaps only a 5% move. If I add 5 to negative 3, I get a positive gain of 2. This is a good thing. Every citizen who is concerned about our State’s direction has a duty to put their paddle in the water and help give it positive direction.

Personal preferences are not the determining factor relative to political decisions, just as one’s personal views are not what determine what laws are in Montana’s general best interest. In fact, laws reject personal ideology as having any bearing on both their enactment and enforcement. If we do not address the enactment and enforcement of law in such a narrow and subjective manner, how can we address political elections any differently?

The ship will sail regardless of who helps move it in a positive direction. Doing nothing only adds weight to the ship unnecessarily while everyone else pulls the weight you choose to ignore. If you care about Montana, then put your paddle in the water and vote for a candidate. This leads me to the next point of Natural law: which candidate should you vote for.

Voting for “Lesser Evils”

“Lesser of Two Evils”: this is a phrase many people throw around, as if it holds any substance or adds any value to political discussion. It does not; rather, in most cases, it serves to inflame the prejudices and emotional responses of people frustrated with politics.

It also offers an excuse as to why people ignore objectivism, realities, and pragmatics. What people fail to acknowledge is this philosophy does not comport to Natural Law. Ironically, the Law that many of them claim is the foundation of our society and is being ignored by politicians is the Law that condemns their approach to politics.

Let’s define the stage of the discussion. Citizens claim they are being forced to choose “evil”. So, they decide that inaction is their duty. They rationalize their inaction this way: by voting for a “lesser evil”, I am committing evil myself; I am aiding evil by voting for “lesser evil”. This is flawed reasoning given the nature of the choice itself—one that is presented to the citizen regardless and in spite of preferences or choice.

This issue has already been addressed by one of the most premier political philosophers of Western civilization, Samuel Pufendorf (1632-1694). His works are so influential that the United States Supreme Court has cited and still cites his works.

Pufendorf described Natural Law relative to when “evil” is imposed upon individuals who have not invited the “evil”. Pufendorf says,

“Of two evils the less is to be chosen, if it be necessary to undergo one or the other…Now judgement is to be passed upon actions, not so much upon the basis of the object, considered alone, but also upon the basis of the end and the circumstances which are here and now present; forasmuch as many of them enter into the very essence of the action” Samuel Pufendorf, Two Books on the Elements of Universal Jurisprudence, Book 2, Observation 2 (1660).

There is perhaps no greater illustration of this truth than this: obeying the law is choosing “lesser evils”. There are many laws we find inconvenient or even reprehensible. Yet, we obey them every day. Why? Because we feel it is a greater evil to be punished for violating the law than to follow the law.

In fact, many in the “liberty movement” decry the unconstitutionality and unlawfulness of certain laws. Yet, they follow those laws, and they do not treat their relationship to laws the same as they treat political elections.

Do we always like choosing a “lesser evil”? No. Do we find it personally inviting? No. Would it be our first choice? No. But those considerations are not the deciding factor when dealing with a presented “evil”. Ron and Rand Paul realize this reality too and act accordingly.

Natural Law requires us to act appropriately and prudently in response to “evils” presented to us. We cannot ignore them and then act as if we are a part of the solution and everyone else is the problem.

–Tim Baldwin is the Republican candidate for House District 4

2 thoughts on “Natural Law Requires We Vote—Even for the “Lesser Evil””

  1. Note: comments/quotes also based on ‘States Dissolving the Union: Pep-Rally Talk’ by Timothy Baldwin posted on polymontana February 22, 2012.

    I am a Christian Patriot in the Liberty Movement. I don’t know why Timothy Baldwin keeps belittling us with his smug remarks about our “editorial hype and patriotic emotionalism”, our “Pep-Rally” mentality, our “gloating about the Second Amendment”, our lack of “practical political redress” and knowledge of political history including our founding documents. Well, we may be the great unwashed but we are no strangers to stereotyping by intellectual elitists.

    I can’t speak for other Patriots, but Timothy Baldwin’s views are much different than mine. There is a saying that when ‘a man’s only tool is a hammer he thinks of all his problems as nails. Timothy Baldwin’s primary tool seems to be his education regarding the US Constitution. His method of saving the United States is by follow the US Constitution to pass constitutional amendments. Really?

    I see two fundamental flaws in the foundation of his arguments. I believe that the country Timothy Baldwin thinks he lives in simply no longer exists. And the same can be said of Constitutional government. It has arguably not existed since he was born. Does he really believe that we simply need to pass a constitutional amendment saying that the government is supposed to follow the Constitution? In the absence of divine intervention, does anyone honestly believe DC can be fixed? Does anyone really expect that the majority of Takers will give the minority of Makers our Founder’s country back? In your dreams!

    I question whether Timothy Baldwin truly understands the Liberty Movement. Yes many of us follow laws we deem unconstitutional and unlawful. But surely he must understand that in the words of George Washington, “government is force”. We follow these laws under threat of property confiscation, incarceration, loss of liberty and possibly life. How can he flippantly dismiss our resolve when he sees many of us making great sacrifices, completely uprooting our lives and moving thousands of miles to flee such laws? The folks in the movement whom I know do NOT support revolution. We do support our natural right to self-defense and protection of our loved ones and property. We make no apologies to anyone for that.

    Surely Timothy Baldwin must realize that our federal government (and many States) are bankrupt. Our financial system is a house of cards. With the fall of our Constitution our foreign enemies are now salivating at dividing up the spoils of America. The invasion is underway. Mr. Baldwin can simply go to youtube to view the invasion or he could visit third-world towns popping up in Florida. We in the Liberty Movement are preparing for this and its inevitable societal threats. Most of us are Christians. Our reactions are scripturally based in Proverbs 22:3, “A Prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” Proverbs 22:3.

    As for his exhaustive theories on voting for “the lesser of evils” I ask Timothy Baldwin a simple question, “How would Jesus Vote?”
    Montana Guy

  2. Oscar Fayripz

    Without being disagreeable, I want to interject that natural law is good as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough.

    Biblical law is the standard we must have in civil matters, as well as every other area of life and thought. Of course, we are not saved by law or by the commandments, rather we are led to the realization that we are sinners in need of a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. By the power of His Spirit we are enabled to keep the Law/commandments and are enabled to begin to implement the Biblical law as standard in the political/civil realm as well. Anything short of the Biblical standard (the law/commandments) is evil, of course. And civil rulers, to be qualified, must meet Biblical standards.

    In the case of Ron Paul, who I fully support, he generally meets our American constitutional standards but honestly does fall short of Biblical standards in certain areas (view on homosexuality, liberty of the individual is supreme rather than God's law is supreme, etc.) I agree with Tim that in the case of Ron Paul, he is much closer to the Biblical standard than any other presidential candidate.

    If it comes down to Romney vs. Obama (God forbid that Ron Paul does not win!), I'd be interested to know who Tim thinks is the lesser of two evils. Of course, these days it looks like Romney is less evil than Obama, yet we know they are both bought and sold by the world bankers, both have near zero commitment to their oath to the Constitution, etc.

    My main point is: while voting for the lesser of two evils is something we do from time to time, the law of God and its supporting case law (read Rushdoony, Titus, others regarding this) is the real gold standard, not mere natural law. We need to hold up the Biblical standard for civil rulers even more highly than the Constitutional or Natural Law standard. Only then will we possibly see political candidates move towards God's ultimate standard.

    BTW, one of our key founding fathers said we never waste our vote by voting our conscience. (whether we win or lose, we are accountable to God for how we cast our vote).

    I'm not being dogmatic one way or the other regarding Tim's article about voting for the lesser of two evils. I am being dogmatic about raising high the Biblical Law and its standards for civil candidates as the ultimate and ONLY standard truly pleasing to God.

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