The concept of “choosing the lesser evil” seems to say that when a person is faced with two undesirable (i.e., two unfortunate or disappointing) options, then that individual should choose the less “evil” thing. But that framework, which at first glance looks like a mere comparative exercise, is actually complicated.
First of all, to say there is a lesser evil is to acknowledge there is an “evil.” Which indicates there is an identifiable and preferred good. And equally importantly, a lesser evil indicates the presence of a hierarchy. All of which points to the presence of values and principles that, if one truly places importance to them, must then be adhered to consistently.
Or, put another way, how does one identify what is evil? And then determining what makes something a lesser evil than another? What value or weight does one put on particular acts to enable people to compare evils? That requires an objective moral code, which cannot be selectively or randomly applied. To condone corruption is evil. But what about supporting measures that break up marriages or the family? State sponsored killings are clearly evil. But so is supporting abortion legislation.
“What we do matters to us, and this is often very significant. In doing the lesser of two evils, perhaps we lose something, perhaps we harm someone, perhaps there is something “distressing or appalling” — such as in Jim’s case — or even just a little off about what we do, or perhaps it simply is not the sort of thing done by “honorable and scrupulous people.” The point is that even if it is the best option, the lesser of two evils can still be genuinely evil and we can be averse to doing it.” (“The Witcher and the lesser of two evils,” Jake Wojtowicz, Jan. 17, 2020).
It is also be true that to indulge in lesser evil decision making is to fall into the fallacy of false dichotomy. Of self-limiting to two, binary, choices when there are other choices actually available. That some refuse to look at other options just so they can justify the lesser evil framework doesn’t really speak well of people’s decision-making capability and maturity. Rationalizing one’s refusal to vote for a better candidate by saying such candidate is unwinnable is likely engaged (consciously or not) in mere wish fulfillment.
In these trying times, we really need a so-called divine intervention in order for us to choose the right one that will truly guide us in the next six years for the presidency.