I would like to show you an example of how public speech gets blown up to sensationalize everything that happens and especially everything that has anything to do with politics. First, watch this:
In one of those split-screen talking heads interviews that you see on news TV nowadays, Bernie Sanders recently told ABC News’ George Stephanopolous,
“We need a campaign– an election, coming up–which does not have two candidates who are really very, very strongly disliked. I don’t wanta see the American people voting for the lesser of two evils.”
George Stephanopoulos, seeming a little surprised at Bernie’s use of this phrase, sought clarification; he asked,
“Is that how you would describe Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump–The lesser of two evils?”
“Well, if you look– No, I wouldn’t describe it, but that’s what the American people are saying. . .”
This statement by Bernie is really no big deal. So he wants to be the Democratic candidate, instead of Hillary Clinton. He therefore wants to present himself as a choice that is better, more likable, and probably more honest than both presumptive nominees who presently dominate the party machinery of Presidential politics. And although his platform is too radical to earn my vote, he probably is more likable and more honest and probably even less evil than those other two contenders.
But here’s what happens in the media; and it shows how things get blown up into hyper-dramatic sensationalism instead of informative, constructive dialogue among the candidates:
The next day after this little televised exchange between Sanders and Stephanopolous, an online political news site, DCCaller, reported on their question/answer dialogue by displaying a headline which read:
“Bernie Calls Hillary Clinton Evil”
Gimme a break, will ya? Is this what really happened?
The headline does not accurately convey what the candidate was communicating. It is a deliberate attempt to sensationalize our contemporary political scenario by subtly distorting the intent of the speaker, in this case Bernie Sanders; this kind of distortion is otherwise known as putting words in his (the speaker’s) mouth.
Such a headline might have reflected some accuracy if Bernie had flatly declared, “Hillary Clinton is evil.” But that is not what the man said.
The term he used, the “lesser of two evils,” is a figure of speech, an admissible exaggeration, commonly understood to mean something like
We have “two lousy choices” here.
People generally understand such exaggerations to be not literal, but figurative, which is to say, a figure of speech, which means. . .
I figure he’s saying we should have better choices than Hillary and Donald.
He doesn’t really mean that Hillary is evil, or Donald is evil, because as someone somewhere once said,
“We’re all bozos on this bus.”
Or, as the old Biblio states:
“We’re all sinners.”
And yeah, I say unto thee whenever we point a finger at the “evils” who strive to dominate us, whether they’re the lesser or the greater, there are three other fingers on that hand pointing back at us. We all fall short of perfection in some way or another.
Disclosure: I will not be voting for any of these three candidates–not Bernie, neither Hillary, nor Trump. I’m hoping to write-in for Romney. He may be dull, and he may be too slick and Establishment. He’s got some credible public administration experience. He’s probably reasonably honest; although he surely is, like me, a sinner damned, except for the grace of God.
And my prayer for him and for myself and for Bernie and Hillary and Donald and every other damned person on this planet includes the phrase: “Deliver us from evil.”
Whether they be lesser or greater.