Consequences of Accepting a False Dilemma

Women’s March on Washington photo by Dave Milbrandt

As I am composing this post, I am listening to a great debate by two top-tier American politicians who are passionate and well-versed in their beliefs and while they may be taking jabs at each other’s party and stances, but are not belittling each other. Audience members are asking tough questions, but people respect the answers and even laughed from time to time.

Unfortunately, the debate on healthcare between two men, senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), had little significance, because both were denied the chance to lead the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively, last year in the presidential election.

The big question is as follows: since so many people love this kind of dialogue, who’s to blame for the fact that we had two candidates with such high disapproval ratings running to lead our nation?

In short, for many Americans, the fault is yours.

Sound harsh and unfounded? Let me begin by explaining who I’m not talking to.

For those who voted for President Donald Trump because they passionately supported his bold style and ambitious goals, congratulations on getting exactly what you voted for. Trump is a strong personality whose actions are challenged by the establishment every day because he is dedicated to up-ending the apple cart of modern politics.

For those who voted for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton because you wanted the former senator and first lady to lead our country because you liked her vision of making America “Stronger Together” by extending the progressive vision started by President Barack Obama, I am saddened with you that your candidate won the popular vote, but that was not reflected in the electoral count.

Also, for those who voted for another candidate, I’m glad that you took the opportunity to voice your opinion even though it was not heard as loudly as you would have liked.

But the ones with whom I have deep concern are those who either did not vote or voted for someone who that they didn’t like but cast a ballot for the lesser of two evils. Let me ask you a question:

How’s that working out for you?

Democrats who loved Sanders, or Green Party Candidate Jill Stein, were told they needed to vote for Clinton because you couldn’t afford to vote your conscience. Well, you swallowed that bitter pill, and marked the box for the party’s standard bearer, despite your reservations and you still lost because her campaign strategy did not win the day.

Republicans who liked any of the other GOP candidate or someone such as Libertarian Gary Johnson, your vote was wasted because, while you were not a fan of Clinton, you probably aren’t very happy with the shouting match we are seeing from all sides.

It’s like the beginning of what will turn out to be a really nasty divorce. For those who are calling for impeachment, that will make the shouting worse and “step-dad” Mike Pence won’t be to everyone’s liking either.

We fell for the oldest trick in the American electoral playbook: the fallacy of the false dilemma. We were told you had to vote for the Pantsuit or the Hairdo, as a friend humorously referred to Clinton and Trump. Those were the only two choices. And, since we’ve always done things that way, we believed the lie that we had no other choice.

No matter what other person you voted for, even if it meant having neither Clinton or Trump in the White House, still would have resulted in less chaos and craziness than we have now.

For those who voted for a candidate you didn’t really support because you were afraid of the alternative, let me close with a question some of my friends are asking about the outcome we have received:

So this what you wanted, right?

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