Logic of the Lesser Evil

by Dr. Ed Berry

EXB150Republican leaders wonder why they lose elections because of Libertarian voters. Here’s the reason.

A common Tea Party Voting Mantra is:

“A vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil”

Montana’s tea party Libertarians use it as their personal “feely-good” justification to not vote for the “lesser evil” Republican candidate while knowing full well the result of their actions will help elect the “greater evil” Democrat candidate.

Why do they follow this Mantra? Because they believe (incorrectly) that it is the moral thing to do, that it helps America, and it makes them feel good.

But is their Mantra valid? Will it pass the tests of logic, science, philosophy, religion, law, and politics? Let’s review these tests and find out.

Logic Part One

Since voters will differ in their opinions of “evil”, we will assume the perspective of a tea party voter who uses the Mantra as a personal excuse to not vote Republican.

The voter who uses this Mantra as an excuse to vote Libertarian must assume the Libertarian candidate is 100 percent free from evil … or “perfect”. Otherwise, voting for the Libertarian candidate would be a vote for the “lesser of evils” which contradicts the Mantra.

Logic Part Two

The Mantra is ambiguous. Ambiguity, of course, makes the Mantra easier to sell to those who don’t think. The Mantra can mean these different forms:

  1. “A vote for the lesser of two evils candidate is a vote for an evil candidate.”
  2. “A vote for the lesser of two evils candidate is a vote for an evil outcome.”
  3. “A vote for the lesser of two evils candidate is a vote for a more evil outcome than electing the greater of two evils candidate.”

Form (1) is clearly true but it has no meaning. It contains no information. Its logical form is

“If A is true and B is true, then B is true.”

Only voters with less than room temperature IQ’s would claim Form (1) is the meaning of the Mantra. So, to be rational, they must be talking about outcomes rather than candidates.

Form (2) focuses on the probable outcomes of a vote rather than the “evilness” of a candidate. It predicts that electing the “lesser of two evils” candidate will result in an evil outcome.

The problem with Form (2) is all political outcomes will be a mixture of “good” and “evil”, and all candidates will result in a partially “evil” outcome. There is no “perfect” candidate.

Form (2) properly focuses on the “outcomes of a vote” rather than on the irrelevant “morality of a candidate” but it does not compare the estimated outcomes for each candidate, which is critical for a voting decision. Therefore, the only rational meaning of the Mantra is Form (3).

Logic Part Three

Form (3) has the following logical form:

“The election of Greater Evil A (due to not voting for Lesser Evil B) will result in less evil outcomes than the election of Lesser Evil B.”

This is what those who support the Mantra really mean when they parrot it as an excuse for not voting for the Republican candidate.

To test the Form (3) prediction, we use the following 5 statements that every Republican, even those who Libertarians call RINOs, will conclude are true:

  1. Romney would have made a better president than Obama.
  2. Hill would have made a better governor than Bullock.
  3. Rehberg would have made a better Senator than Tester.
  4. Zinke will make a better Congressman than Lewis.
  5. Daines will make a better Senator than Amanda Curtis.

To prove their Mantra is true the Mantra supporters must prove the above 5 statements are false from a conservative point of view, since the result of using their voting Mantra would be the political outcomes of electing Obama, Bullock, Tester, Lewis, and Curtis. Proving these Democrats have preferable outcomes from a conservative perspective is impossible.

After years of parroting the tea party Mantra without proof, as their excuse for not voting for a “lesser evil” Republican candidate, no one has shown, or even attempted to show, that the above 5 statements are false from a conservative point of view.

The statements are true only from a liberal point of view, which means Mantra supporters are either liberals or insane.

Mantra supporters do not realize they must test their Mantra hypothesis before they vote. If they did test it, they would learn their Mantra produces the exact opposite of their desired goals.

Mantra supporters complain about all kinds of political problems but they vote for their own worst enemy … and then they proclaim they are “patriots”.

 “Patriots-in-Name-Only” (PINOs)

Some tea party radicals claim the way to improve America is to reject the “lesser evil” and elect the “greater evil” candidates, like Obama, Reid, Pelosi, etc., until, they think, Americans will “wake up” and vote for tea party candidates. This is an illusion. It won’t happen.

To prove their radical claim is true, these “Patriots-in-Name-Only” (PINOs) must show a historical record that demonstrates voting for the “greater evil” has produced more conservative laws than voting for the “lesser evil” in similar situations as we have today. It can’t be done. They are operating on emotions, not logic.

PINOs now tell you to vote for Democrat John Lewis rather than for Republican Ryan Zinke because Ryan Zinke has some “imperfections”. They ignore the much greater imperfections of John Lewis, which is irrational. Then they claim if we elect Lewis it will help elect a “non-evil” tea party candidate in 2016. This is absurd. The probability of this prediction happening is miniscule. Therefore, those who promote this claim are not only wrong, but they are promoting fraud.

When you give your opponent more political power, they use their power to make irreversible changes that give them greater political advantage.

Politics is like a Monopoly game. Give your opponent all the hotels and you cannot win. Maybe the tea party Mantra supporters never played Monopoly.

The Scientific Method

The Mantra is not Truth. It is a hypothesis. The scientific method is the only proven way to falsify a hypothesis. It requires testing a prediction against reality, and concluding:

“If your prediction is wrong, then your hypothesis is wrong.”

The 5 statements are true for all conservatives. Therefore, until some Mantra supporter demonstrates the above 5 statements are false, Mantra supporters are using an invalid hypothesis.


We have shown the tea party voting Mantra is a hypothesis whose predictions fail. Therefore the Mantra is wrong and using it as a basis to vote will lead to more “evil”. The surest way to take down America is to follow the tea party voting Mantra.

When will the people ever learn?


Part 2 will review the tea party voting Mantra from the viewpoint of religion. Some religions have discussed and taken positions on the Mantra … and they do not agree. Part 2 will show which religions are right and which ones are wrong about the Mantra. The discussion will show an interesting and important twist to the Mantra that changes forever one’s outlook on voting.


  1. As much as I hate the communist democrats, I hate RINO's even more, this is a good reason to close Montana's primaries . It is the democrats that elect RINO's to the Republicans party. RINO's give the Republicans a bad image. People will say their is no different between the Republicans and democrats, this is because of RINO's. All you have to do is go to the legislative voting record by Roger Koopman. Most of the good Republicans have voting records above 60 percent, RINO's are in the 30% or less, The democrats average less then 10%. 100 percent means the legislator votes with the Constitution, 0 % means the legislator votes for communism socialism. As far as libertarians , there are a lot of good libertarians in the Republican party, Ron Paul being one of them. As far as Religion, most good Republicans are Christian, and we believe in the same God. The only religion I would not trust are the muslims, they can not take an Oath to the Constitution , because they pledge their lives to the koran. The so called muslim religion is a theoceacy, meaning a form of government.

  2. Very well thought out, Dr. Ed. I look forward to Part 2. Ultimately, though, I want to see the logic you bring to those who insist on voting the totally most principled candidate (usually third party) who hasn't a snowball's chance in hell of winning. We have some of these in our organization, and it truly pains me to see the intolerable status quo maintained by these very "principled" votes that cause the Republican candidate to lose to the ever more evil Democrat. If we could at least elect a Republican—even in name only—it would change a certain balance. It would also encourage more Republican voters in the shadows—the ones who take the hopeless approach and stay home on Election Day—to come out and get active, thereby giving us a chance to not only elect MORE Republicans but BETTER (more principled) Republicans.

    I spent 30 years in the Libertarian Party and never saw a single one of their candidates elected—principled or not. Instead, I watched the media focus on the most outrageous of their candidates (the former PD officer turned madam or the guy who listed his occupation as "ferret legalization coordinator") and make them into laughing stocks.

    Like it or not, this nation, and all the states and local jurisdictions that comprise it, is governed by a two-party system, and until we totally overhaul our educational system and begin to teach Constitutional principles again, we have little choice but to work within the party of those two that still believes in personal freedom, lower taxes, smaller government, and other Republican principles.

  3. Dr. Ed, I would like all my Tea Party friends and associates, some of whom I have known and worked with since prior to the 2010 elections, to read this tutorial on political logic. My experience with the Tea Party meetings being inhibited by those very same 'purists' you refer to, was a constant source of frustration for me and others who wanted action, imperfect as it might be. What I saw was the psychology of self-importance on display, in a negative sense, indulging in their own fantasies of perfection. It was counter-productive and a contributing factor toward robbing the group of energy and speeding it's demise. This similar scenario has probably been repeated across the country. Not only have we taken ourselves out of the game, but in the process of becoming purists, hard as is is to believe, we are helping to take this country down.
    In former years as a hard-core leftist, when Ronald Reagan (who for us was the enemy) was running for president, my friends and I talked about voting for him as a way to polarize the country in favor of the Left. We theorized that by getting him and other conservatives elected, people would then react against their policies and we would have a massive exodus created, eventually installing PURE Marxists and socialists, thereby destroying the hated capitalism system!
    This is what I would call rampant, self-important delusion. Sound familiar?

  4. Government employees have unions and politicians to protect them. We the tax paying private sector have no one to protect us. The Tea Party skyrocketed under Ron Paul, a libertarian Republican. I though the Tea Party would protect the private sector, and give us a voice. 77 million people work for government ( directly or indirectly), they are all consuming wealth, only 63 million people work in the private sector. Only the private sector creates wealth, but that is not true anymore, since the feds have done every thing in their power to destroyed the ability to create wealth, by regulations. President Nixon went on national TV, in 1971 and said he was changing the American economy from and industrial to a service economy, the same year he with an executive order, created the EPA. At that point all most every factory that produced a little smoke was shut down, ie. the steel mills, and a lot more.

  5. I agree with your logic and it is simple. what I question is that this mantra is a "tea party" mantra. I work with many Tea Parties and have NEVER heard this from any leader or member EVER. I suspect it is what people who have never attended a tea party meeting and know little about those who have goals of lowering the debt, limiting government to the Constitution, private property rights, and free markets (real) not free trade agreements.

  6. @5 Dear Bob, Tea Parties differ and their leaders differ. One test is to ask your tea party friends who the are going to vote for. If you are in Montana, the key question would be: "Are you going to vote for Ryan Zinke and Steve Daines?" since these are our Republican candidates for US House and US Senate.

    I get many responses to this question. Some people will answer, "Yes." Others will get very angry at my question as if I had offended their integrity. They will answer, "We always vote for conservatives." This is a giveaway that they will not support the Republican candidates (because they don't consider them "conservative.). It means they are going to vote third-party because the R candidate "is not good enough for them."

    I get many private emails from tea party leaders in Montana. Since they are private emails I cannot ethically reveal their names. The number of emails I get that directly quote the Mantra as their excuse for not voting Republican is amazing … which is why I began writing on this subject.

    My Part 3 will get into more details but if you want a head start just type in "lesser evil" in the search box above and see what you get.

  7. I am a Republican with a personal libertarian philosophy (Note the small l). I am frustrated with my Libertarian friends who espouse the nonsense you have addressed so well. To not vote Republican does not punish Republicans, it rewards Democrats. It is narcissistic and nihlism to want the destruction of the two parties by allowing the Democrats to rule.
    If you are going to say you won't vote for the Republican, then be honest and vote for the Democrat. You are doing the same thing, but at least you are being honest about it.

  8. #2 During the years of 2000 to 2007 we saw Republicans in control of Washington. What did we get more government, more debt and a loss of out civil liberties. The Republicans controlled the 2013 Montana legislature and we saw a spending increase of over 13%. Republicans don't want a smaller government, lower taxes and more liberty. Republicans say they believe in freedom but some will have more freedom then others.

  9. Not disagreeing with you, but is it really better with Democrats? Small l libertarians need to get back into the Republican Party and pull them back to their roots of limited government and fiscal responsibility. As it is now, with no other countervailing force, the Republicans believe they need to be Democrats.
    Act now, go to Republican meetings. Remind them of their primary mission, and how no one else can do what they are supposed to.

  10. Steve if that was the case the Republicans wouldn't be here and we'd be voting for some other party. Some would say the Whigs are still in control, just under the Republican name.

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