Monday, September 10, 2012—In the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, there is a scene at the table of Captain Aubrey. The captain and his dinner guests are all respectably drunk, but by the end of dinner the captain is especially respectable. The captain's cook has prepared an excellent dinner, but they cannot escape the weevils that infest the ship's stores. As the dinner winds down, two of them emerge from half-eaten biscuits.
Whether it's the drink or familiarity, nobody is particularly alarmed by the culinary stowaways. Instead, the captain says "Look at those two weevils. Doctor, which of them would you choose?"
The doctor declares he has no reason to choose one over the other, but the captain insists, whereupon the doctor picks one, the larger and stronger. In mock alarm, the especially respectable captain upbraids him: "Doctor, haven't you heard that one must always choose the lesser of two weevils!"
"The lesser of two weevils"! Is there a better description of the choice voters sometimes face between candidates? Yet sometimes we must choose. If we cannot in good conscience vote for either, is there one that we must, on pain of conscience, vote against? Is one of them so damaging, whether by his beliefs or by his position in the legislature's organization and structure, that we must vote against him, even if it means for voting for his opponent, also a weevil, but a lesser weevil?
Voting for the Lesser Weevil may not feel good. It should not feel good. If we have fallen so far that our best hope is a poor choice justified only by the worse choice, it means that we have failed. We have failed to keep our eyes on what our elected representatives are doing. It means we have let the political parties become closed clubs that feel little responsibility to We The People. And it means that we have to fix things. If we are to fix things we must be involved. Giving up our vote and letting the complacent decide the election is a poor way to begin.