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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Elliot Benjamin is a philosopher, mathematician, musician,
counselor, writer, with Ph.Ds in mathematics and psychology and the author of over 230 published articles in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, pure mathematics, mathematics education, spirituality & the awareness of cult dangers, art & mental disturbance, and progressive politics. He has also written a
number of self-published books, such as: The Creative Artist, Mental Disturbance, and Mental Health
. See also: www.benjamin-philosopher.com
SEE MORE ESSAYS WRITTEN BY ELLIOT BENJAMIN
PART 1 |
PART 2 |
PART 3 |
PART 4 |
The Deadly Duo
Part 4: On the Lesser of Two Evils
Regarding Biden and Trump
Yes the accelerating devastation that I wrote about in my "Deadly Duo Part 3" essay is accelerating out of control with almost no end in sight.
It has been over 2 months since I write my "Deadly Duo: Part 3" essay, with the first three words of the subtitle: "The Devastation Accelerates" . A few weeks ago, when Trump was in the midst of embarking on his coronavirus infected presidential rallies in Oklahoma and Arizona, with flagrant avoidance of social distancing and masks and plans to move on with his rallies to Florida and Texas, the most deadly coronavirus states in the United States , I was all set to write my "Deadly Duo: Part 4" essay, subtitled "Trump Rallies and Death". But with over three dozen states in the country now seeing increases in their levels of coronavirus cases, and a number of states seeing their highest number of cases yet , Trump appears to have been persuaded by his aides that continuing to hold his rallies at this time without promoting social distancing and wearing masks would likely infect and kill too many people, as this scenario would further diminish his chances of winning reelection .
Consequently I decided to put my "Deadly Duo: Part 4" essay on hold, and I figured that if nothing came to me for a Part 4, then so be it. But as it turned out, Integral World writer Joseph Dillard unwittingly came to my rescue. The following is the last of my comments to Joseph on his Integral World essay "The “Lesser of Two Evils” Fallacy" :
“Thanks for your response Joseph, and I think we are approaching a point of "agree to disagree." But let me emphasize that my extreme concern about Trump getting reelected is based upon the type of concerns that have been expressed by many well respected psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health experts as described in the edited Dangerous Case of Donald Trump book by Bandy Lee . I truly believe that Trump is mentally deranged, whether you classify it as pathological narcissism or anything else, I think he is very capable of getting us into a nuclear war to preserve his shaky ego, or if he thinks this will enable him to win reelection. Aside from all the animosity I have toward him based upon his lack of empathy, cruelty, racist policies, etc., the escalating coronavirus deaths, that you yourself have skillfully written about a while ago , is for me a concrete demonstration that the country being governed by what I will generously refer to as an "idiot" is causing needless suffering and death, in great excess of what would have taken place if virtually anyone else had been president during this time.
So for me the bottom line is not that I am arguing with you about getting particular laws passed with either a Democratic or Republican president—it is a matter of utter urgency to prevent an even greater catastrophe than we are now witnessing. And for me it is not worthwhile debating the relative merits of Biden right now, as I completely disagree with both you and Caitlin Johnstone  about your Biden analogy of "wanting cancer because it's not heart disease." This gets back to your position that Biden and Trump are equivalent, and this is where I must say that I think you are completely missing what is absolutely essential here, and that is the enormous destructiveness of Trump getting reelected. But there is no way we are going to change each other's minds about this, so at this point I suggest we just agree to disagree. If the stakes were not as high as I believe they are, then sure I would respect your choices as just being different from mine.
But what I see is an idealistic intelligent caring person casting a vote that promotes Trump getting reelected, based upon what I believe is a complete fallacy of equating Biden with Trump. And this is not something I can respect. In fact, this actually may motivate me to finally write my "Deadly Duo: Part 4" essay. Bye for now.”
So for me the bottom line is not that I am arguing with you about getting particular laws passed with either a Democratic or Republican president—it is a matter of utter urgency to prevent an even greater catastrophe than we are now witnessing.
And here I am—actually writing my "Deadly Duo: Part 4" essay, thanks to Joseph. In one of my earlier comments to Joseph on his essay, I ventured to guess that he had been a Bernie Sanders supporter (which Joseph did not subsequently voice any disagreement with) and I conveyed that a number of Sanders supporters would vote third party, but that I agreed with Bernie himself about this being counterproductive to the urgency of stopping Trump from getting reelected.
I don't believe that Biden is “evil,” but for the sake of argument, even if we were to assume this is the case, the difference between electing Biden and reelecting Trump is in my opinion as stark as what we are currently witnessing with the mounting infections and deaths in the United States from the coronavirus. So I am going to first focus here upon what the United States is currently going through regarding the coronavirus with President Trump as our leader, as a continuation of my deadly duo theme.
And for all who believe that Biden is “evil,” then I wholeheartedly promote the voting of the “lesser of two evils,” for the literal survival of anyone who is currently living in the United States. However, I will also include my perspective that Biden is not “evil,” and that in spite of his imperfections, he has the potential to make significant contributions not only to the United States curtailing its accelerating dive through escalating coronavirus disaster spurred on my President Trump, but also to make constructive contributions to the United States embarking on a course of political and humanistic renewal.
The Deadly Duo Has Become a Living Nightmare: Opening Up the Schools in the Fall
In Frank Visser's essay "The Corona Conspiracy: Part 8: Coping with Corona: The Cautions vs. The Reckless" , he concluded with the following statement: “Let's be cautious. Listen to science, stay healthy, and don't endanger others by infecting them unknowingly. Wear a mask when in public. Use common sense.” I certainly agree wholeheartedly with Frank, while the current nightmare of the deadly duo is making its way into letting the coronavirus wreak even more extreme levels of uncontrolled devastation in the United States through Trump's insistence, and threats, about opening up the schools in the fall . Trump's insistence on opening the schools in the fall is clearly based upon his political reelection goals rather than humanely and effectively managing the pandemic as well as the economy, as can be seen by the following :
- The order is directed at public schools of the masses but not private schools of the elite.
- The order has been made regardless of the state of the pandemic or the ability to safeguard the children, teachers, and other school personnel.
- Trump is ignoring the enormously escalating pandemic cases in over three dozen states and over three million cases nationwide.
- His refusal to mandate a national requirement regarding social distancing, wearing face masks, and closing bars, in-house dining, and large indoor gatherings works against flattening the pandemic and improving the chances that schools could be safe by the fall.
- Most economists agree that society and the economy will not open up and rebound until people feel safe that the pandemic is finally diminished and under control.
- Trump doesn't have the authority to order onsite attendance at schools without some special declaration of a related national emergency, since state and local authorities, school boards, and town councils control school policy and practices.
- Trump doesn't have the authority to withhold funds from noncomplying schools, since federal funds are authorized by the Congress and all school funds are determined and administered by state and local authorities.
Yes the accelerating devastation that I wrote about in my "Deadly Duo Part 3" essay  is accelerating out of control with almost no end in sight. But the key word here is “almost.” For I am choosing to stay optimistic that the devastation will finally end, and this brings me back to Joseph Dillard's implication that Biden and Trump are equivalent, and consequently his advocacy to not vote for Biden as the “lesser of two evils.”
Biden and Trump Are NOT Equivalent
In Joseph's "Lesser of Two Evils" essay  he portrays Biden as too “corrupt” to vote for as the “lesser of two evils” and advocates for making a third choice as an alternative to both Biden and Trump. However, as I conveyed in my above comment to Joseph's essay, I view his advocacy as essentially a vote for Trump, as it detracts from voting for the only alternative that we in The United States have of finally ridding ourselves of Trump and the deadly duo.
As I have conveyed in my earlier Integral World essays on the 2020 United States presidential election , Biden was certainly not the presidential candidate whom I felt most closely aligned with based upon my own progressive values, but I advocated early on for Biden being the candidate as our most viable prospect of beating Trump in 2020. In this context, while the list that Joseph included about Biden's past corruption is not something I will argue about in the particulars that he has given in regard to Biden's past, I think that it is very important to not lose sight of the positive potential that Biden NOW has the capability, and I believe likelihood, of contributing to finally end the deadly duo accelerating devastation that we are currently witnessing and living under in The United States.
Biden knows fully well that to secure his prospects of beating Trump in November, he needs to gain the approval and support of younger voters and progressive voters, in particular ex-Bernie Sanders supporters . The following July 7, 2020 article from the New York Times entitled "Inching Left on Climate, Biden Woos Progressives" speaks directly to this :
“Less than four months before Election Day, Mr. Biden is moving urgently to unite and energize the Democratic Party around his candidacy, aware of the need to engage younger, more liberal voters—and to insure that they turn out in November. On climate issues, there are signs that Mr. Biden's allies and some of the party's leading progressives have quietly started to forge new common ground. In recent weeks, supporters of Mr. Biden and of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, his chief rival in the Democratic presidential primary race, have met privately over Zoom, part of several joint task forces that the two contenders established to generate policy recommendations on core domestic priorities, and to facilitate party unity. . . . 'I think where we have really made a lot of progress is in areas with respect to environmental justice and addressing front-line communities, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said. . . . Mr. Gore said Mr. Biden had asked for advice and suggestions in climate policy areas. . . . 'I think he's got the science pretty well down and he understand the rich potential for creating millions of job.'”
Engaging this kind of positive potential of Biden, as an alternative to Trump, is currently being promoted by a series of daily progressive articles that include a number of informative articles that agree with the views of the author, entitled "100 Days of Loving Joe Biden" . This series of articles is currently on Day 9, but already there are some relevant and significant factors from just the first 3 days of the series to keep in mind that I believe strengthens the argument that Biden and Trump are NOT equivalent:
“Biden's unapologetic liberal tax plan would nearly double the average tax rate paid by nonworking millionaires and aid the most vulnerable. . . . In line with general Democratic demands, he would raise the corporate profits tax, eliminate deductions for high-income earners, repeal most of the Trump tax cuts and increase taxes on fossil-fuel emissions. But he doesn't stop there. His campaign has gone up and beyond, calling for three unique reforms that would dramatically increase taxes on the rich. . . . 1. Making high earners pay. . . . 2. Ending the benefits the very rich get from capital gains. . . . 3. Ending the benefits the VERY rich get on inheritance. . . . If Biden's reforms are implemented, the tax code will become more progressive than it has been for generations.” 
“During an appearance on 'Meet the Press' on Sunday [in 2012], as host David Gregory quizzed Biden on the subject, the Vice President made some news: Gregory: You're comfortable with same-sex marriage now? Biden: Look, I am Vice President of the United States of America. The President sets the policy. I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men marrying women are entitled to the same exact rights. All the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don't see much of a distinction beyond that.' This may not seem like a big deal from a 2020 lens, but in 2012 it was huge and was ahead of Obama on this. . . . Mr. Biden's unexpectedly expansive remarks made him by far the highest-ranking White House official to move closer to a formal embrace of same-sex marriage. . . . Yes, Biden wasn't there on gay marriage in the 1990s (very few people were) but Marriage Equality is Joe Biden's Legacy. . . . 'Other leaders might come to mind earlier,' Pete Buttigieg said of Biden,' But there's a reason to think that the clock moved more quickly on marriage in the White House because of him.' Biden allies believe his heart has always been in the right place, even if it took his moderate politics and Catholic faith time to catch up. 'We should be looking at evolution as a good thing and not something you should have to go back and reprove yourself on,' Zeke Stokes, the chief programs office for GLAAD, an LGBTQ rights group that cosponsored the Cedar Rapids forum, told BuzzFeed news: 'I think it's widely perceived that [Biden] very much jumped out in front of the Obama administration at a time when this was critical and moved the ball forward inside the administration and in the culture. His leadership on that was really critical and has continued to be critical.” 
“Biden is Planning an FDR-Size Presidency. . . . We often don't get the most progressive, productive presidencies from the most progressive candidates. Instead, we get them from people who know how to get things done in the government and who are president at the right time. There is reason to think that a Biden presidency will bring us just that: the self-conscious man in the Democratic middle—mocked by the activist left throughout the primary campaign as hopelessly retrograde—considers the present calamity and plots a presidency that, by awful necessity, he believes must be more ambitious than FDR's. Long before the pandemic, he described a range of actions he'd take on day one, from rejoining the Paris climate agreement to signing executive orders on ethics, and he cited other matters, like passing the Equality Act for LGBTQ protections, as top priorities. Already his recovery ambitions have grown to include plans that would flex the muscles of big government harder than any program in recent history. That is impressive already! Now with the pandemic, what will he do?. . . . He has talked about funding immense green enterprises and larger backstop proposals from cities and states and sending more relief checks to families. He has urged immediate increases in virus and serology testing, proposing the implementation of a Pandemic Testing Board in the style of FDR's War Production Board and has called for investments in an 'Apollo-like moonshot' for a vaccine and treatment. And he floated both the creation of a 100,000-plus worker Public Health Jobs Corps and the doubling of the number of OSHA investigators to protect employees amid the pandemic. If he were president now, he said in March, he would demand paid emergency sick leave for anyone in need and mandate that no one would have to pay for coronavirus testing or treatment. As the crisis deepened, he said he would forgive federal student-loan debt--$10,000 per person, minimum—and add $200 a month to Social Security checks. . . Biden is pragmatic and his goal is getting things done to help people—from the position in which he can do that. He learns and grows and shifts over time like a smart, empathic person. Biden is also a lifelong Democrat who likes the view from the center of the party, enough to move rapidly to accommodate when it shifts, as it is doing now very quickly. He may look like a milquetoast moderate to the activist left and maybe even to you, but the party—and world—has changed so fast that even his primary platform puts him well to the left of Obama in 2008 and, in many ways, left of Hillary Clinton in 2016. . . . 'What I've heard the vice-president say over and over again is this crisis is shining a bright, bright light on so many systemic problems in our country, and so many inequities. It is exacerbating and shining a light on environmental-justice issues, racial inequalities, so many other problems.'” 
Well I could go on and on here about arguing why Biden and Trump are NOT equivalent, discussing Biden's moral integrity compared to that of Trump, Biden's housing plan, Biden's effective way of working with Republicans to beat Trump while progressing further left in his programs, etc. . But the bottom line is that we are presently in a literal “do or die” presidential election and I believe very strongly that for anyone in the United States who still thinks that Biden is “evil,” but “less evil than Trump,” than by all means please vote for the “lesser of two evils” for the sake of the life of every person in this country.
Notes and References
1) See Benjamin, E. (2020), “The Deadly Duo: Part 3: The Devastation Accelerates, But Perhaps With a Bit of Silver Lining?“ Retrieved from www.integralworld.net/benjamin108.html
2) See Croft, J. (2020), “The US Sees a Record Number of New Coronavirus Cases In a Single Day.” Retrieved from https://www.kten.com/story/42287553/the-3-most-populous-states-are-breaking-coronavirus-records-leading-to-fears-of-apocalyptic-surges; Sprunt, B. (2020), “After Disappointing Tulsa Rally, Trump Touts Border Wall in Arizona Trip.” Retrieved from https://www.kpbs.org/news/2020/jun/23/after-disappointing-tulsa-rally-trump-campaign/; The New York Times, (2020), “Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html; Treisman, R. (2020), “Texas Sets State Record With More Than 10,000 New Coronavirus Cases Reported Tuesday.” Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/07/07/888755062/texas-sets-state-record-with-more-than-10-000-new-coronavirus-cases-reported-tue; and Treisman, R. (2020), “Florida Smashes U.S. State Record of Daily New Cases: More Than 15,200.” Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/07/12/890216415/florida-smashes-u-s-state-record-of-daily-new-cases-more-than-15-200; Wardell, J. (2020), California Coronavirus Cases Surge More Than 10,000 in Single Day.” Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-california-cases/california-coronavirus-cases-surge-more-than-10000-in-single-day-idUSKBN24902S
3) See Danner, C. (2020), “99 Days Later, Trump Finally Wears a Face Mask in Public.” Retrieved from https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/07/trump-finally-wears-a-face-mask-in-public-covid-19.html; Nobles, R. (2020), “New Hampshire Rally Shows How the Trump Campaign Is Adjusting to 2020 Realities.” Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/08/politics/new-hampshire-rally-trump/index.html
4) See Dillard, J. (2020), “The 'Lesser of Two Evils' Fallcy: And Wilber's Basic Moral Intuition.” Retrieved from www.integralworld.net/dillard41.html
5) See Lee, B. (Ed.). (2019), The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. New York: St. Martin's Press.
6) See Dillard, J. (2020), Toward an Integral Response to Coronaivirus. Retrieved from www.integralworld.net/dillard38.html
7) See Caitlin Johnstone's website at https://www.patreon.com/caitlinjohnstone
8) See Visser, F. (2020), “The Corona Conspiracy: Part 8: Coping with Corona: The Cautious vs. The Reckless.” Retrieved from www.integralworld.net/visser176.html
9) See Meckler, L. (2020), “Trump Pushes and Threatens in Bid to Fully Reopen Schools.” Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/trump-schools-cdc-pence/2020/07/08/8a52d400-c14b-11ea-b4f6-cb39cd8940fb_story.html
10) This list was taken from a July, 9, 2020 personal communication from David Estey.
11) See my various Integral World articles on the United States 2020 presidential election at www.integralworld.net
12) See Friedman, L. & Glueck, K. (2020), “Inching Left on Climate, Biden Woos Progressives.” New York Times, July 7, 2020, p. A14.
13) See any particular day of the series by googling "100 Days of Loving Joe Biden" as the current day of the series will appear, with links to all the preceding days.
- Biden's Tax Plan
- Gay Marriage
- Biden's FDR Sized presidency
- Biden is a mensch
- Biden has a Covid-19 plan
- Biden ran the Obama economic recovery
- Biden's Housing Plan
- Biden knows love and commitment
- Biden Knows Exactly How To Deal With Republicans
14) See Day 1 of the series at https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/7/3/1957830/-100-Days-of-Loving-Joe-Biden-Day-1-Biden-s-Tax-Plan; see Buffie, N. (2020), “Opinion: Liberals Aren't Giving Joe Biden Credit For a Radical Tax Plan That Goes After the Indolent rich.” Retrieved from https://www.marketwatch.com/story/liberals-arent-giving-joe-biden-credit-for-a-radical-tax-plan-that-goes-after-the-indolent-rich-2020-07-02; and Buffie, N. (2020), "Opinion: Joe Biden's Retirement Reforms Are the Boldest We've Seen in Generations." Retrieved from https://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-a-joe-biden-presidency-would-help-older-americans-2020-05-29?mod=article_inline
15) See Day 2 of the series at https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/7/5/1957838/-100-Days-of-Loving-Joe-Biden-Day-2-Gay-Marriage; see Williams, M. (2012), “US Vice-President Joe Biden 'Absolutely Comfortable' With Same-Sex Marriage: Biden Becomes Highest-Ranking Official to Endorse as Comments May Indicate a White House Move Towards Official Policy.” Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/may/06/joe-biden-supports-gay-marriage; and Gomez, H. J. (2019), “Marriage Equality Is Joe Biden's Legacy. He Had to Evolve to Get There.”Retrieved from https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/henrygomez/joe-biden-gay-marriage-equality
16) See Day 3 of the series at https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/7/6/1957848/-100-Days-of-Loving-Joe-Biden-Day-3-Biden-s-FDR-sized-presidency; see Debenedetti,G. (2020), “Biden Is Planning an FDR-Size Presidency: He Thinks He'll Survive Tara Reade's Accusation. But He Knows He Can't Be an Average-Joe Democrat Anymore.” Retrieved from https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/05/joe-biden-presidential-plans.html