Lesser of two evils

Is it Wrong to Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils?

How many times have you heard someone say, “I just can’t vote for the lesser of two evils”? If this is true, then you can never vote since all candidates are evil to some degree, although some are more evil than others.

I have a number of Calvinist friends who use the “lesser of two evils” argument. If you know anything about Calvinism, then you know the acronym TULIP. The “T” in TULIP stands for Total Depravity. Total Depravity does not say that a person is pure depravity or pure evil, but only that all his or her thoughts and actions are tainted by sin. Sin has corrupted every part of our being.

Of the following two candidates, who would you choose to be President? King Saul or King David? The people chose Saul even when God told them how bad he was going to be as king (1 Sam. 8:10-22). God’s choice was David. As history shows, David was the lesser of two evils. He was an adulterer and an accomplice to murder. He’s described by God as “a man of war” who has “shed blood” (1 Chron. 28:3). And yet, “the Lord, the God of Israel, chose me [David] from all the house of my father to be king over Israel forever” (v. 4).

Every politician is going to disappoint, some less and some more than others. You can count on it.

There are no perfect candidates this side of heaven. That’s why the following biblical warnings are given:

  • “Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation” (Ps. 146:3).
  • “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes” (Ps. 118:9).

Too many people have substituted God for government with the result that if we are not governed by God, as William Penn wrote, we “will be ruled by tyrants”:

William Penn

James Madison wrote in Federalist #51, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” He forgot that even some of the angels fell. But because men are not angels – of even the good kind – making these less than perfect people our governors is always going to be a problem.

Our nation’s founders had some sense of this. Some understood the imperfections of government and human nature better than most:

“The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.”1

Our founders had no delusions about ever having a government that would be devoid of evil or a time in which vigilance and action were not necessary to curb the rise of evil.

This means that any choice of a political candidate is a lesser of two totally depraved people.

It would be great if we had a Daniel running for President, but as far as I can see, there isn’t a Daniel in the race. But because there isn’t a Daniel, should Christians give over the presidency to someone who may be closer to Saul or David or the devil himself?

Lesser of two evils

People who say they will not vote for the lesser of two evils will get one of the two evils. In this election, they may get the greater of two evils. And it’s not just the greater evil of one man or woman we may get, but we may also get the greater of two evils when it comes to judges, executive orders, wealth confiscation, and a whole lot more.

The argument I often hear is that when things get really bad, the American people will finally realize that they made the wrong political choices and will finally embrace a new way of doing politics. It’s possible. But things could go terribly wrong as it has in other countries around the world and end up with the Russian Revolution, Communist China, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela. With nearly 50 percent of the American people not paying federal taxes, getting money through wealth confiscation, and 50 million people on food stamps, on what side of the political spectrum do you think they will line up?

A great deal of foundational work needs to be done to save our nation – from realizing that ultimately God is our Sovereign and we are His subjects to the fact that power should be limited at every level of government.

The worst thing we can do is give up and give in. There’s more than one political race going on. We’re going to get a new President and with at least two new Supreme Court Justices in the mix. There are good things happening in Alabama and Kentucky. Some states are standing up to the Federal government. There are some relatively good men in Congress.


  1. This quotation has often been attributed to Thomas Jefferson. “This quotation has not been found in any of Thomas Jefferson’s writings.  He did, however, employ the phrase ‘chains of the Constitution’ at least once, in the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798: ‘…in questions of power then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution…’” 

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Gary DeMar

Gary DeMar was raised in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University (1973) and Reformed Theological Seminary (1979). He has served as researcher and writer at the Christian Worldview ministry American Vision since 1980 and President since 1984. Today he serves as Senior Fellow at American Vision where he lectures, researches, and writes on various worldview issues. Gary is the author of 30 books on a variety of topics – from "America’s Christian History" and "God and Government" to "Thinking Straight in a Crooked World" to "Last Days Madness." Gary has been interviewed by Time magazine, CNN, MSNBC, FOX, the BBC, and Sean Hannity. He has done numerous radio and television interviews, including the “Bible Answer Man,” hosted by Hank Hanegraaff and “Today’s Issues” with Tim Wildmon and Marvin Sanders. Newspaper interviews with Gary have appeared in the Washington Times, Toledo (Ohio) Blade, the Sacramento Bee, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Marietta Daily Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, The Orlando Sentinel, and the Chicago Tribune.

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