Lesser Evilism and Mandates

Selling Your Soul for a Mess of Pottage

-by Richard Moreno

In the run up to the November presidential election, some of America's most renowned social critics--from Noam Chomsky to Howard Zinn--have lent their leftist credentials in the service of the Democratic presidential nominee, John Kerry. To be sure, some of these former radicals have qualified their moral capitulation with the nuance of supporting Kerry only in swing states. Yet, in essence, their fundamental goal, i.e., getting Kerry elected, is identical to that of the typical pro-Kerry Democrat. According to this quasi-leftist thinking, Any Body but Bush, however similar, deserves the people's mandate.

This idea of giving Kerry, or anyone, our mandate is worth exploring in greater detail.

Theoretically, in the arena of political power, there is a fundamental political-ethical concept known as the mandate. In ancient times, the Chinese Emperors, from the time of the founding of the Zhou Dynasty, in a quest to legitimatize their malevolent dynastic rule, branded their authority as being divinely inspired. Thus they notoriously prostituted the concept of the Tien Ming, i.e., Mandate of Heaven, in order to commit some of the worst atrocities history as known. Whole peoples and cultures were raped and pillaged by the Middle Kingdom in the name of the Mandate of Heaven. Likewise, in Roman antiquity, the Caesars, particularly from the reign Augustus to that of Hadrian, would evoke the divine to justify their cruel rule.

In contemporary times, the preferred mandate is no longer that of the gods or heaven, but that of the demos, i.e., the people. The powers that be assume their leadership responsibility in the name of the people's mandate who, via some sort of parliamentary method, seemingly give their consent to the newly crowned leader. In this context, elections today are a powerful tool to justify one's actions as head of state. Thus, when Bush, with the aid of a complacent congress, invades a sovereign country in the Middle East, he is doing so under the banner of the people's mandate, and his actions are rarely questioned or challenged by the mainstream media or society in general. After all, he infallibly governs with the people's mandate.

The concept of the people's mandate is a powerful psychological-social weapon to evoke, for example, when heads of state engage in illegal acts of military aggression. This has been the case from the ancient times of the Romans to the present time of the North Americans. The concept of the mandate has served to legitimize some of the most barbaric acts in history. And it continues to serve the most criminal acts being committed within the contemporary period.

So when you hear people argue for you to vote for Kerry, since it is ostensibly a vote for the lesser evil, you should realize that you are being asked to give Kerry your mandate--and that, if elected, whatever he does from the time you vote for him will be done in your name and with your consent. Hence, when Kerry puts 40 thousand more troops into Iraq as he has vowed, or when Kerry increases defense spending while eroding labor laws, or when Kerry implements draconian Patriot Act legislation that he himself helped enact, it will all be accomplished with your mandate. You should always bear this in mind when some former leftist personality urges you to vote Bush lite.

In synthesis, we all share the responsibility as citizens of the most powerful country on earth to ensure that this administration does not act recklessly in our names and with our approval, that is, with our mandate.

Richard Moreno is a student and activist at Mt. San Antonio College. He is also a member of the Global Resistance Network in Los Angeles. He can be reached at polyapplications@aol.com.

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