Saving America from the LO2E “monkey trap”

2010 May 9
by ruleoflawrestoration


  • LO2E–“lesser of two evils”.
  • Monkey trap–a hole is bored in a wooden box and the box is affixed to a tree or post.  A piece of fruit is stuffed into the hole.  When a monkey reaches its hand in to get the fruit, it discovers that the hole is too small to remove his fruit-filled fist.  Monkeys are generally incapable of solving this simple problem.  Such traps, therefore, are a surefire method of capturing monkeys.

America is caught in a “monkey trap” by virtue of its obsession with its own cleverness.  Far too many of us pride ourselves on our ability to discern the “lesser-of-two-evils” (LO2E) candidate, and on our strategy of supporting that candidate against the “worse-of-two-evils” (WO2E) candidate.  Apparently, we think we are somehow “saving the country” by engaging in this tactic, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Let me count the ways in which this LO2E trap is harming the nation.

1. It absolutely ensures that evil candidates will be elected. Why should any conscientious voter vote in support of a candidate he or she has already recognized as “evil”?  Does this make any sense at all?  I submit that this behavior is unnatural, and must have been taught us, for no one would come up with such a thing on his own!

Indeed, how many of us while passing through our laundry rooms see the bottles of chemicals on the shelf and are overwhelmed with a passion to drink one of them?

“Oh, boy!  There’s some drain opener and some laundry soap.  I’m going to drink that laundry soap because it’s the lesser of two evils!”

How many times have you (yes, I’m talking to you) supported a candidate that you knew was “evil”?  And how many times have you criticized that candidate later for being evil in office?

“Argh! This stupid laundry soap is making me sick!  But at least I didn’t drink the drain opener!”

2. It promotes a false hope that cannot keep its promises. Here’s how it works.  We choose what we believe to be the LO2E candidate and if he or she wins, we congratulate ourselves on keeping the WO2E candidate out of office.  We call this “a step in the right direction”, and then we commence to bewail the unlawful and unwise actions of our recently-elected LO2E official.  And if our LO2E candidate should lose, then we endure the incumbency of the WO2E official while boasting:

“Don’t blame me; I voted for LO2E!”

Meanwhile, this voting strategy is demonstrably failing, as the nation moves further and further away from its constitutional roots, its human rights, and its sound economy.  No LO2E candidate is going to turn this around, no matter how much less evil he may be than his or her opponent.  Just as “you can’t get blood from a turnip”, you can’t get wholesale governmental reform from a LO2E candidate.

3. Our constant settling for LO2E candidates ruins the market for GOOD candidates. Let us suppose that the milk aisle of the local grocery store offered only two selections: “Sour Milk” and “Less-Sour Milk”.  The shoppers, not liking sour milk at all, choose the “Less-Sour Milk”, complaining at the time of choice, in the car on the way home, and most certainly, when they drink it.  But strangely, they never refuse to buy it.  Indeed, they return every week for more!

How is the store owner, therefore, ever supposed to figure out that his product selection is simply inappropriate as long as the customers keep buying what he’s selling?  And so it is with LO2E voting.  Until we start refusing to buy damaged goods, they will continue to be offered.

4.  The LO2E “choice” is no choice at all. Suppose that you come into my store and ask to see my electric drills.  I escort you to the drill aisle and show you two (and only two) choices.  You ask which is the better one and I tell you that you’ll have to decide that for yourself.  “Fair enough,” you think.  So you begin to ask me about what it’s like to use each of the drills.  I tell you that this one tends to shock users because of a problem with the electrical grounding circuit, and that the other one starts spinning so fast that it jumps out of your hand.

“So they’re both bad for me?” you ask.

“Yep,” I answer.

You then step back, naturally repulsed at the thought of being expected to choose something that’s bad for you.  You are surprised upon looking around that there are several other drills on display, too, other than the two I showed you.  You ask about those and I tell you that you’re not allowed to buy them because these two are the officially sponsored drills.

Now, if you’re a good consumer, you will go to some other store and buy yourself a good drill.  But if you’re an average American voter, you’ll choose between being shocked or getting a sprained wrist.  Meanwhile, my store gets your money and patronage.  And when others ask you where you buy your tools, your word-of-mouth advertising will increase my business!

5.  LO2E winners postpone the valuable lessons we should have learned already. When a LO2E candidate wins, he or she does not set about reforming the government in any substantial way.  Sure, he or she may accomplish a couple of meaningful reforms, but by no means should we expect a wholesale reform of the type that is long overdue.

Further, LO2E officials have this nasty habit of pushing the “too big to fail” paradigm, by which failing ventures and policies are continually propped up at great expense and effort in an attempt to benefit the privileged few at the expense of the masses.  Thus do we see the flag waving continue even though America is demonstrably failing to hold to her own Constitution.  The LO2E officials continue to pretend on our behalf that things aren’t so bad.  With a constant eye toward re-election and with an insatiable appetite for having some “accomplishment” about which to brag, the slightest hint of “success” in any form is lauded as “progress”.  Meanwhile, however, the ship of state continues to sink as the clueless voters believe all too much the positive reports they hear from the LO2E officials.

If, however, we let failing policies and programs fail altogether, then we could either be rid of them (if they are indeed bad ideas) or we could fix them (if they are worth fixing).  But no LO2E official will engage in such reform because it’s simply too risky to take a stand.  It’s much, much easier and politically expedient to appear to be diligent in nursing things along than it is to call a failure a failure and to let it die.

6.  The LO2E strategy keeps us distracted from building anything useful. With all the hubbub over the “two-party system”, and the LO2E/WO2E races, we are using up our resources of time and money trying simply to SLOW the descent of the nation down the slippery slope of lawlessness.  Meanwhile, we are doing nothing to stop that descent.  If we took the same level of effort we are putting in the LO2E/WO2E game into the ROLR instead, we’d find in short order that there would be a great number of ROLR candidates (regardless of party affiliation) that would be worthy of our votes.  As it is, however, far too many will pass over a third-party or independent candidate in a race and vote for the LO2E candidate because the one they really like is “not electable”.  And they see a vote for the real reformer as a “wasted vote”.

They ask the wrong question:  “Can he win?”  If they would think through it, however, they’d replace “Can he win?” with “He simply MUST win!”  And then they’d go out and do something about it, convincing anyone who will listen that the reformer must be supported.

This level of clear-headed activism, however, is sadly rare in America, where it’s much easier to let our government-sanctioned-and-protected major parties tell us for whom we should be voting.  (The ROLR does not support any political party, and is not under the influence of any political party.)

Voter’s Pledge Unattractive?

I am disappointed to see that the ROLR Voter’s Pledge is proving to be unattractive to many voters at this point in the development of the ROLR.  It appears that the most frequent stumbling block is that it asks them to give up the option of voting for candidates who reserve the right to exceed the powers of their office.  Too many, it seems, would much rather “do something” than to “do nothing”.  They fail to see the great benefit than can come about by letting the nation have its WO2E candidate and wallowing in the consequences.  Therefore, rather than to let Adolf Hitler win an election, they will gladly rush out to vote for Josef Stalin.  And if you suggest that Stalin, too, is evil and ought not be supported, they’ll think you’re nuts.

What is ironic, however, is that sitting out the Hitler vs. Stalin election (as a Voter’s Pledge signer would do) is only part of the plan.  Voter’s Pledge signers are also encouraged to persuade others to do the same.  Indeed, rather than the typical projects of supporting LO2E candidates and perhaps writing letters to hardened incumbents, ROLR Voters are encouraged to begin influencing friends, family, and neighbors to join in the ROLR.  This is hardly “doing nothing”.  In fact, it’s doing something right where you have the highest chance of success—in your own back yard.

But alas, it’s just so hard for most of us to resist voting for a lawless Stalin when there’s a lawless Hitler to be defeated!  This is the monkey trap in which we are caught—refusing to let go and to be free.

Because of this, ROLR is preparing to announce a slight shift in our strategy—aimed at drawing in the public and changing this LO2E paradigm in a few incremental stages.  The ultimate goal will be the same:  having millions and millions of voters sign the Pledge and hold to it.  But since this is proving to be too big a leap for many to make at once, we’ll be breaking it down into more manageable paradigm shifts.  We envision something more like this:

  1. Learning. Learning the basics of the rule of law.
  2. Adopting/Believing. Acknowledging the wisdom of the rule of law and adopting it as a philosophical paradigm.
  3. Declaring. Developing enough conviction about the rule of law to assert publicly that government ought not be allowed to operate above the law.
  4. From Believer to Recruiter. Actively influencing friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers to learn, adopt, and declare the rule of law.
  5. From Believer to Activist. Actively supporting candidates who have taken the ROLR Candidate’s Pledge.
  6. From Active to Uncompromising. Signing the Voter’s Pledge, relinquishing the “right” to vote for candidates who reserve the “right” to exceed the powers of their offices.
  7. From Occasional to Constant. Graduating from political activity only during elections to regular and ongoing activity as citizen overseers of our own governments.

More will be announced about these developments soon.

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