Principles and the Lesser Evil

by Dr. Ed Berry

One reason Republicans have lost elections is because of religion … false religion on the part of those who do not vote for the “lesser evil.”

Some self-righteous folks accuse those who vote for the “lesser evil” of violating their “principles” or “losing their moral compass.” These accusations are without foundation and show the accuser does not understand “principles” or morals.

Further, this mistake in moral values has damaged America because it elects a greater evil. We must understand and correct the moral error of the Voting Mantra.

What is a principle?

Merriam-Webster’s “short definition” of principle is a “moral rule or belief”. But it takes more explanation to understand what a principle really is.

Merriam-Webster’s “Full Definition” does better by noting a principle is a “rule or code of conduct.” In other words a principle relates to an action or relationship. presents a better definition of principle: “an accepted or professed rule of action or conduct.” (This definition is used in physics.)

Examples of principles

The Ten Commandments are principles. They don’t define God, which would be a statement of belief. Rather they tell us what we should or should not do. All Ten Commandments are expressed in terms of actions. They are principles.

The Golden Rule is expressed in terms of actions. It is a principle.

Actions may seem like a subtle difference between principles versus beliefs, but this subtle difference is important.

The Voting Mantra is not a principle.

The Voting Mantra “A vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil” is not a principle. It is a statement of belief rather than an expression of a desired action.

However, the Voting Mantra suggests we should not vote for the “lesser of two evils” which is an action that leads to greater evil as can be proven by direct observation of the result of not voting for the “lesser evil”, namely, electing the greater evil.

The Voting Principle rejects the Voting Mantra.

The dominant view of today’s Christian religions on the “lesser evil” originated back in the 15th century.

The Protestant Revolution did not reject the Catholic position on voting. All major Christian religions promote voting for the “lesser evil” and reject the Voting Mantra.

As we learned in Religion of the Lesser Evil, the philosopher Kempis, in the 15th century, discussed the “lesser evil” question in his The Imitation of Christ, Third Book, Chapter 12. Kempis opposed the Voting Mantra and wrote “Of two evils we should always choose the less” thus laying the ground for the Voting Principle.

The philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas reviewed the “lesser evil” question in his Summa Theologica. Aquinas tells us our moral duty is to achieve as much good as possible from every situation, including our vote. But he cautions we cannot achieve good by acting on something that is impossible, like voting for a third-party candidate.

Aquinas would reject today’s radical idea of voting for a third-party candidate in order to “send a message” or “to uphold our principles.”

Pope John Paul II, a philosopher, discussed the “lesser evil” question in his Evangelium Vitae (73) (The Encyclicals of John Paul II and The Genius of John Paul II).

Discussing the specific matter of abortion, Pope John Paul II wrote it is legitimate for a legislator to vote for a more restrictive law regarding abortion over a less restrictive law:

“This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects, in order to prevent worse legislation from being adopted.”

Pope John Paul II said circumstances can create a compelling reason to vote for the so-called lesser of two evils if we can help prevent worse evils from occurring.

From these clear statements, we can formulate the Voting Principle that we should follow in our voting as well as in our other matters in life:

Voting Principle: “It is our moral duty to vote to achieve as much good as possible on every vote. To accomplish this greater good we must reject candidates who clearly cannot win, like most third-party candidates.”

Voting Principle Example: “It is legitimate to vote for a more restrictive law regarding abortion over a less restrictive law. This action does not represent support of an unjust law. Rather it is a legitimate and proper attempt to limit evil aspects and to prevent worse legislation from being adopted.”

Origin of the Voting Mantra

The voting Mantra did not originate from a philosophical study of religion or morality. It originated in America from the 1960’s radicals that included Jane Fonda and company.

Third parties, especially Libertarians, picked up the Mantras from the progressives because the Mantras helped them win third party votes.

Certain renegade preachers who entered politics promoted the Mantras for personal political gain. Today, many tea parties folks think the defunct, illogical, anti-religion Mantras are their path to political salvation. They are wrong.

Those who believe the Mantras have forgotten how America’s Founding Fathers used the Voting Principle and rejected the Voting Mantra. Had they not, we would not have our Constitution of the United States of America. Read Attorney Tim Baldwin’s explanation of “The Lesser Evil” issue here and here and here and here.

Moral accusers are confused about Principles.

Those who accuse “lesser evil” voters of contradicting their “principles” or of “losing their moral compass” are wrong. They are the immoral ones, perhaps unknowingly.

The most important principle related to how we vote is the Voting Principle.

The Voting Principle tells us to vote to achieve the most possible good of every situation.

Unfortunately, the Voting Mantra has infected the tea party and Libertarian voters like a cancer. The results have been devastating to Montana and America.

We should reject all renegade pastors who preach the Voting Mantra because the Voting Mantra is immoral.

The Voting Principle must be our guide to recovering America.

Even though we may have backed another candidate in the primary election, even though we may even have been critical of the winning candidate before the primary election, that criticism was relative to the candidates in the election and not to an absolute rejection of a candidate.

Do Kempis, Aquinas, Pope John Paul II, or any of today’s major Christian religions tell us we should vote according to absolutes? No. They all tell us to vote to achieve the greatest good from the choices available to us. This is to vote on the relative differences between candidates and their parties.

According to widely accepted moral teachings, assuming we are conservatives rather than leftists, it is immoral to not vote for a winning Republican candidate like Commander Ryan Zinke, who will do greater good than his Democratic opponent.

I know some who say they cannot vote for Ryan Zinke because his position on abortion “is not good enough for them.” Ryan Zinke is endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee. That may not be good enough for some who think their morality is above reproach, but the fact is Ryan Zinke is much better than his Democratic opponent, and the Republican Party is much better than the Democratic Party, on the abortion issue, from the viewpoint of conservatives.

Therefore, pro-life voters who do not vote for Ryan Zinke are immoral according to the Voting Principle and widely accepted religious morals.

The Voting Principle tells us to vote for Ryan Zinke even if we disagree with some of his positions on issues. Read Ryan Zinke’s America for more information on Ryan Zinke.


The Voting Principle defines moral voting, and it prevails over the Mantras and over those who preach against it.

Accusers who say we have “sold out”, or “flip-flopped” by backing the winner of a Republican primary, are the ones who have “sold out” on moral principles.

Widely accepted moral teachings say when there are “two evils” in an election, we must reject third-party candidates who cannot win and vote for the candidate who will do the least evil and the most good.

Those who say we should not vote for the “lesser of two evils” promote immoral actions and the greater evil.

Those who vote to achieve the most possible good from the options available act morally, logically, intelligently, and according to common sense.

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