A Quintessential Lesser Evil - by Mark E. Smith
Recently elected San Diego Mayor, former Democratic Congressman Bob Filner, is now under great pressure to resign due to complaints by several women he has harassed. These include female members of his administration and some of his biggest female supporters. Bob, it seems, has been grabbing and groping women every chance he got, often in public. It is likely that he has been doing this for his entire career without anyone saying a word, but then there were fewer women in power and he was younger. Filner has apologized and will be going for therapy, but one lawsuit has already been filed against him and calls for his resignation haven't stopped.
Bob is definitely a lesser evil when it comes to politicians, and although I don't vote, I was happy to see him elected. In a country where another Black person is killed by the cops almost daily and Congress hasn't seen fit to do anything about it, Bob stands out for not being racist. He was a Freedom Rider when he was young, has many Black people on his staff, and was the only white Member of Congress to stand with the Congressional Black Caucus when they were trying to block the fraudulent Florida electoral vote in the 2000 Presidential race.
Bob cares deeply about veterans, immigrants, the poor, and the homeless, and has done much to help everyone he could. And unlike many politicians, his sexual targets were adults rather than children. Bob has a well deserved reputation for listening to people and for attending every possible local event that he can. I recall very few progressive events where Bob wasn't in attendance. I remember when I went to hear Congressman John Lewis speak here and Bob, remembering my face and assuming that I'd like to meet Lewis and shake his hand, came over to my table to ensure I got that opportunity.
But Bob hasn't always cast the predicted progressive vote. Sometimes he's had to cave to pressure from his party and vote against his values. Less often than others, but sometimes.
Bob, like all politicians, is a flawed human being. He has obviously been corrupted by power, taking it for granted that the right to grope women was one of his privileged perks. But then, until recently, everyone else made the same assumption.
If Bob is forced to resign, our next Mayor will probably be much worse. That's the nature of politics in the USA--you get a greater evil or a lesser evil, but you always get evil. Not even a saint could resist the corrupting influence of power in a system that is as inherently corrupt as ours.
Although some say that therapy doesn't work, I think that in Bob's case it will be extremely effective. I think he was taken by surprise when his normal behavior suddenly became unacceptable and that he will, now that he understands the problem, adapt accordingly. Given time, I'd expect that even some of the women he humiliated will see that he has changed and be willing to accept his apologies and return to his administration. Flawed as he is, the real estate developers who run San Diego aren't going to allow anyone better to be elected, and we could do a lot worse.
As an anarchist, I see government itself as an unequal distribution of power and therefore unacceptable. And as an election boycott advocate, I won't vote no matter who is running or what is at stake. But as lesser evils go, Bob is really as good as it gets.
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