Is there truth to the “both sides” argument?
Every so often on this sub, a poster or commenter claims something along the lines of “both sides of the duopoly are equally bad/the same.” Usually, they are downvoted to hell and are met with accusations of being Trump shills or at least failing to see how Trump is much worse than Biden. So today I’d like to examine the “both sides” argument to see if there’s any truth in it.
It’s worth noting initially that people mean vastly different things when using the “both sides” argument. A lot of it has to do with short versus long-term outlook.
Right now, in November 2020, it seems very foolish to say that Biden is having a worse impact on our country and libertarian principles than Biden, simply because Trump is in office and is in power. Any libertarian is right to constantly question those in power to ensure they don’t abuse or expand their power. And with Trump, we’ve had plenty of things to critique when it comes to abuse and expansion of power.
Thus, saying that “Trump and Biden are equally bad” is currently problematic because we’ve seen that Trump was a terrible president (he may have done a few things right but at the cost of many, many principles that us libertarians hold dearly). It’s hard to say exactly how Biden will govern, so at worst comparing the two is comparing a known evil to a possible evil. In the short term, the “both sides” argument seems to sidestep the very real errors and villainy of the Trump administration.
But in the long term, comparing the stances of the Republican and Democrat parties since 2000, there is so much in common between them that the “both sides” claim makes a lot more sense. And, with a few exceptions, Trump and Biden have both toed the party line pretty consistently throughout their political careers.
Both sides, and political figures, are strong supporters of the “war on terror”, with no real plan to end it from either side and continued investment in the military industrial complex. Both have minimal if any solutions to the “war on drugs.” Both recieve constant praise from one of CNN and Fox and constant attacks from the other. Both are in favor of bloated government spending with no plan to halt the growing debt crisis that threatens to engulf our country.
Neither are tackling the aspects that are necessary for true police reform (ending qualified immunity, breaking up police unions, ending civil asset forfeiture, etc). Both are strong defenders of the free speech that perfectly aligns with their positions. Both sides are viewed as either anti-american or a bulwark against an evil ideology by alternate pluralities of the nation.
Thus, saying “both sides are equally bad” in terms of the suite of key policy positions both sides have taken over tha past two decades is accurate in my opinion. Emphasizing this point shows people who are independent or simply not drinking the kool-aid of their party that the solution to the duopoly’s issues will not be found inside the duopoly itself (at least in its current state).
If anything, I think that using this argument in conversation to call for the abolition of the electoral college in favor of ranked choice voting could be a good way to go. Thoughts?
Btw I did vote for Jo Jorgensen this election, I’m not a hypocrite.
Article from r/Libertarian: For a Free Society