The Lesser of Two Evils: Choosing Between Ethics and Practicality

Updated on November 21, 2016
jes732 profile image

Jamal is a graduate from Northeastern Seminary and writes on a broad range of topics. His writings are based on other points of view.

I was watching the elections from one of my local bars, The Daily Refresher, with my friend, Rizzo, who was the barista there. We switched on and off between chatting about an issue I was having and getting updates as the votes were being counted. One of the other bartenders would come by every few minutes through out the night and update us and usually his news was not good.

Obviously known now, as the night went on, more and more states went to Trump and there was a sense of shock that you could almost touch in the air and in my chest. Rizzo commented hat she thought that we had gotten past the days when a misogynistic racist could hold an office of power. And by the nights end, history was made.

Gay rights had made significant progress in the last two years.  Rights that were fought and paid for.
Gay rights had made significant progress in the last two years. Rights that were fought and paid for. | Source

Jumping the Gun

Over the next 48 hours, news, social media and every other location where people gathered in Rochester were outraged at Trump’s win, but more so at half the country voted for him! So much for progress. Immediately calls went out that everyone who voted for Trump was prejudiced as there were increasing reports of hate crimes occurring in Rochester and Buffalo.

My friends from the LGBT community were both angry and scared. One said that she was afraid it would be “open season” on them and women as well. Rochester can be a very liberal city, and many here seem to have grown comfortable because of so many progressive achievements had occurred this year. It seemed impossible that the country could actually go back to a time where women and LGBT rights could be suppressed. Trump’s victory was more than just a shock, but a ice cold bucket of reality…or a reality other than what it seemed.

Soul Searching

I started looking at the reasons behind voter’s decisions to vote for Trump. Some of it was informed by people who voted for him at work, others was from people I met across town who voted or knew someone who had. The one common thing they all shared was that none their reasons had anything to do with race or Hillary Clinton being a woman. I am not really going to go into who was at fault here but suffice it to say that the reasons basically fell to a choice between ethics and practicality.

It’s obvious that there are violent, xenophobic, hateful elements among trump supporters. However as the days went by after the election, it increasingly became known that many of the people who voted for Trump had in fact been the same who voted Obama into power before. This was something even Jon Stewart recently acknowledged. So it made no sense why they would suddenly turn a 180 in the worst possible way.

The reasoning though had much to do with the fear of job loss, of further harm coming to business owners who were already struggling to get by. Many did not trust Hillary Clinton. Trump was a businessman and therefore of the two evils, was the one who best understood their situation. Trump maybe personally an awful person, but they hedged their bets that either he wouldn’t actually follow through on his campaign promises against immigrants, Gays, and Muslims. That or if he did, the other branches of government would swiftly veto those proposals down.

But honestly, whether Trumps plans were stopped or not, these people voted for him because their needs outweighed their morality….Or perhaps more so that the morality was one of empathetic, but distant connection. Beliefs are great as long as you got food on the table and a roof over your head the next day and this could be applied both ways.

While many Trump supporters were racists, most had voted for Obama years before and now changed because of hardships they were dealing with in the last four to eight years they felt were being ignored.
While many Trump supporters were racists, most had voted for Obama years before and now changed because of hardships they were dealing with in the last four to eight years they felt were being ignored. | Source

The Devil You Know

This election brings up the question if it is right to choose practicality over morality. It’s a philosophical question that’s been around since World War Two. Would you help the Jews escape if it meant being captured, tortured, and killed by the Gestapo? There’s a great scene in the beginning of the movie, Inglorious Bastards, where a SS commander, Hans Landa, tracks down fugitive Jews to a French family’s home. They are hiding them from the Nazi’s and the commander arrives with his men but is courteous and polite to the father, disturbingly so.

Then he switches to English and tells the father that he knows the Jews are under the floor and tells him to show him or have his own family face the consequences. With his own family right outside surrounded by guards, he does so, and the commander has the guards fire into the floor killing all but one of the Jewish family members.

Clearly, businessmen and struggling workers weren’t dealing with racist officers’ threatening to kill their families if they didn’t vote Trump. However, losing one’s job and not being able to support your family could arguably be seen as just as bad. Progressive Americans have the right to be concerned about their hard earned rights and to be angry at their neighbors who may have voted in the man trying to remove them. But if the places were switch, would they choose the same?

This is a situation played out often across history of people put into extraordinary circumstances to make hard choices and take large risks for the sake of their morals or survival. And there are large numbers on both sides who have made either choice, and often condemned or glorified by later generations who view their efforts as spectators rather than participants who were actually there. Both sides judge the other, but that comes easy when you have no investment in the other side.

No win situation: SS officer, Hans Landu, forces a French farmer between saving his family and a Jewish family he is hiding beneath the floor, in Inglorious Bastards
No win situation: SS officer, Hans Landu, forces a French farmer between saving his family and a Jewish family he is hiding beneath the floor, in Inglorious Bastards

Open Wounds

The most tragic element about the 2016 elections: It forced Americans into a rock and a hard place to choose who was going to be left paying the bill for their own legitimate concerns. There is no easy answer to the question of is it right to choose your own economic survival over the human rights of fellow Americans because it unapologetically begs the question of sacrifice. Only the ones in that position have any true say and there still maybe no resolution to it, nor understanding because neither side may not want to understand concerns that are not their own and understandably so.

What can be said though is that it is leaving a wound in American society that is going to be difficult to heal. If it is a situation of choosing the lesser of two evils, how do you choose and still be able to sleep at night?

Daily Show comedian/correspondent, Hasan Minhaj summed up best this divide when he said during his skit after the elections, “Hey man, I don’t hate you. I just don’t care about you.” Back to the election night, Rizzo pondered this conundrum and understood the implications of it, but at the end of the night could only cry. I could hardly blame her.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • jes732 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamal Smith 

      2 years ago

      From what my friends told me he is taking an anti gay stance and electing people of similar views to positions.

    • Julie Nou profile image

      Julie Nou 

      2 years ago from Celestial Heaven

      I don't understand why LGBT would be worried about Trump. I heard that Sir Elton will perform on Jan 20. For the first time in POTUS history

    • jes732 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamal Smith 

      2 years ago

      @Prakask RnP In November 1940, the German airforce bombed the British town of Coventry, killing 600 people. British intelligence knew of the attack but did nothing to stop it because if they had, they would have tipped off the Germans that their enigma codes had been broken. The Germans would have then changed the codes leaving the allies back at the drawing board for not knowing what the Germans were doing ahead of time.

    • Prakash RnP profile image

      Prakash RnP 

      2 years ago from INDIA

      I'd like you to cite an instance of conflict between ethics and practicality when you must choose between the two.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, soapboxie.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://soapboxie.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)