Since Election Day 2014 is less than a week away, I thought I would dig through the archives and pull out an article I wrote about this time in 2003. That year I ran for governor in Mississippi. I had a tremendous amount of grassroots support, but being a third-party candidate, a lot of people believed voting outside the two major parties was simply a “wasted vote.”

The Evil of the Lesser

As the 2003 Governor’s race winds down to the final few days before Election Day, I find an incredible amount of people voicing their belief that I am the best choice for the office. Privately, they tell me they really would like to vote for me, but they feel they would be wasting their vote. They say that a vote for Cripps ends up being a vote for the Democrat, Ronnie Musgrove and that a vote for the Republican, Haley Barbour, would voting the “lesser of the evils.”

I would like to address this idea of the “Lesser of the evils” or as I prefer to say, “the evil of the lesser.” I believe this idea of voting for a particular person because he is the “lesser of the evils” is an idea rooted in hell and unworthy of civilized Christian culture.

The evil of the lesser - tweedle-deeTo say that you will vote for the “lesser of two evils” is to say that you will still vote for what you consider evil. How can a Christian conscientiously vote for anything evil? And why should Christians blindly follow political parties rather than study individuals? After all, the GOP does not stand for “God’s Own Party” no matter how distasteful the Democrats may be to your senses. As Christians, we are responsible to Almighty God for all of our thoughts, words and deeds. This includes all of our moral choices. The civil realm is ordained of God to reward the just and punish the evil doer (Romans 13). Our participation as voters is therefore an important duty, and not to be taken lightly. We are to vote for the candidate that we believe has the integrity and grit to fulfill his office as the minister of God. Those who refuse to make the moral choice of voting for the best candidate is revolting against God’s Word which, dare I say, is revolting against God himself. Duty is ours, consequences are God’s! We are to vote by conscience [Duty] and trust in God for the rest [Consequences].

Wasting My Vote

Many will say, “If I vote for you I will be throwing away my vote.” Voting on principle is never throwing away your vote. ONLY VOTING AGAINST PRINCIPLE CAN BE THROWING AWAY YOUR VOTE! The reason folks believe they are “wasting their vote” is rooted in the fallacy that a “3rd Party” candidate cannot get elected. This was not true in Minnesota when Reform Party Candidate, Jesse Ventura, was elected. But let us not lower this discussion into pragmatism. The real problem is a matter of principle.

History Lesson

Because our government schools have abandoned a thorough study of history and civics in favor of “social studies,” many today are ignorant of the history of political parties in this country. The modern Democratic and Republican parties do not go back to the founding fathers. The Republican party was born in the 1860 elections and bears little resemblance today to what it stood for then. My point is this, many political parties have come and gone in our nation’s history. Some conservative parties, over time became liberal. Some liberal parties became conservative. At times several parties ran credible candidates for office in the same election cycle. In the past, there has been more liberty and our political process was not so restricted (read controlled).

Liberty Issue

This leads me to an important point. I have been barred from participating in the gubernatorial debates that are taking place. The reason given is that “3rd Party” candidates are not credible or serious. Who gave these folks the right to impute motives and intents? I am not running for office because its fun. I not running for office because I have nothing else to do. I am running for office because I want my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren to live in a Free Mississippi. I want them to live in a land that is not controlled by big government, big business or big media. To not give credibility to a non-Democratic or non-Republican candidate is to institutionalize the two-party system making it improbable that a “3rd Party” can ever rise to the surface. It means that we have to go on indefinitely choosing from tweedle-dee or tweedle-dum. Without the safeguards of alternative parties, we will see a further decay of our freedoms.

Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day

The evil of the lesser - two sides of same coinA “3rd Party” is not likely to come out of nowhere and take center stage. As we have noted, the “system” prevents such a thing from happening. How then do we ever get to the point where we have an alternative to “heads or tails of the same coin”? We, the people, must change our perspective of voting “party” or “lesser of the evils.” We must vote conscientiously and responsibly – all the while working to build up alternative parties. It will probably not happen the first time around. Possibly not even the second or third time, in every election. However, when people begin to vote conscience, others will take note. As it spreads and grows we may see our labors come to fruition. But, if we never change our mindset — if we continue to vote outside of principle — then we shall never have another choice outside of the “controlled” parties. Our liberty, and that of our posterity, is on the line.

We Are The Problem

This leads us to the real problem. We all moan and complain about the state of things in civil government. But we are the problem! We elect these power-hungry, two-faced bureaucrats to office. We thought we did good by choosing the “lesser of the evils” but we haven’t prospered. All we have done is breathed more life into the corrupt system. The bottom line is this: If you vote against principle you feed the system and you are part of the problem. If all of the people I’ve met who revealed to me their distaste for both “major” party candidates…if all of these people who considered me their real choice were to vote for me on November 4th, the results would be earth-shattering. No, at this point it is highly improbable we would win, but we would send a strong message that there is a legitimate third choice. Perhaps in the next election more will join in…and the next more, until we break the stranglehold of this system. One thing is for sure: the system you claim to despise WILL NEVER BE BROKEN until you, as an individual, begin to cast your one vote in principle!

And you that are Christians have a more solemn responsibility. You have someone to report to for your decisions. God has set his Word before you, and given you the responsibility to obey it. As I said, civil government is ordained of God to reward the just, and punish the evil-doers. You have the responsibility to work to the best of your ability to place into office those who will do JUST THAT. To work for or vote for, otherwise, is to revolt against God and his Word.

I urge you to study the candidates and pray for wisdom. The issues here are of the utmost importance.

Postscript 2014

What memories this brings back! Intellectual men and women looking me in the eye and stating how much they would love to see me governor, but then say they were going to vote for Haley Barbour, as the “lesser of the evil” to Ronnie Musgrove.  For one thing, I’m not sure that is a correct statement, and it’s obvious I’m a conservative. The truth is, I am a paleo-conservative, not a neo-conservative. My conservatism predates this modern notion of liberals=bad and conservatives=good. It’s because conservatives eventually embrace all the liberal policies. They are usually 10-20 years behind them, but they always end up there. I hear people say both the liberals and conservatives are driving us off the cliff, but the liberals are driving faster. And so, we have to vote for the conservative to slow things down.

The propagation of this nonsense keeps us numb to the reality that we are still going off the cliff unless we find a way to turn the train around. Why is this so difficult to grasp? If what we have is broken and can’t be fixed, then its time to start building something new.

The one thing that surprised me the most during my campaign was the number of liberals who supported me. I have no way of proving it, but I honestly believe I got just as many, if not more, votes from liberals than conservatives. This may require some explanation. I visited all 82 counties in Mississippi during the final six weeks of the race. In major cities I did radio, television and newspaper interviews.  The overwhelming majority of these reporters were liberal, most were extremely liberal. The funny thing is, after the interviews I would often talk longer. Many of the reporters, before leaving, told me they were going to vote for me. I couldn’t believe it and I began to ask them why. They all had similar answers. They said I was real and answered their questions honestly. They said I didn’t dodge questions or change the subject. They clearly let me know they did not share my political stance, but felt it was better to have an honest man in office than a crook.

I was speaking outside a community college in South Mississippi when a group of about 40 black students showed up. Most were attentive to what I was saying, but there was one noisy heckler. I stopped and went over to him and told him I wanted to address his issues. I spent about 10 minutes debating him and he got so angry he stomped off. The other students were so impressed that I took time to confront the heckler, they hung out for about an hour asking me all sorts of questions. There was one really sharp student who was discussing some serious political issues. He was not in agreement with the majority of my positions, but stated in front of the entire group he was going to vote for me. This led to the much of the crowd cheering “Cripps for Governor.” A puzzled reporter went over and asked the young man why he would vote for me. He answered, “Because Mr. Cripps is right here! He is out on the streets talking with people. I’ve never seen another candidate do that.” The reporter replied, “But you don’t agree with him!” The student finished by saying, “He knew we weren’t in agreement, but he took the time to share his position with me. That means something. I believe he is honest. I believe he is intelligent and I believe he has thought through the issues. I would rather have a man like that as governor over what we have now.”

At the same time, I had all of these conservatives stating they did share my political point of view, but could not vote for me as it was wasting their vote. Imagine that, the liberals made a conscientious decision based on morals, while the conservatives could not bring themselves to make a moral decision to vote conscientiously. Truth is stranger than fiction.

I am not a Republican or Democrat. If there exists a tertium quid, I often choose that candidate. I’ve voted for Gene Taylor for House of Representative even though he’s a Democrat. I felt he was a better man than anyone the Republicans have placed against him. If I believe a Republican is the best choice, then I remember I am voting for the man not the party. Oh yes, though I am far from being a liberal, I detest the Republican party. I got a glimpse behind the mask of the monster when I ran for governor….a glimpse few of you will ever see. It was the Republicans who were caught (more than once) removing my yard signs across the State. It was the Republicans seeking to bar me from speaking at events. It was the Republicans videotaping my speeches and, in the final few days, using exact quotes that brought applause…as if they were their own words. I could go on but remember…

Politics is a nasty business.
poly means many, and ticks are bloodsuckers.
Take care and examine each man you vote for.
Blindly voting party is what has us in such a mess…

John Cripps for Governor 2003 - the Evil of the Lesser

Hard-working Mississippians who vote in conscience and can’t be bought!