The false dichotomy, sometimes called the false choice, is one of the most popular rhetoric tricks used in liberal democracy. The point is to frame the debate in such a way as to either avoid some unpleasant topic or narrow the scope to the benefit of one party in the debate. “We either do X or we allow this terrible thing to continue” is an effective way to compel action. After all, everyone knows that doing nothing in never an acceptable action. Only monsters choose that option.
It is fair to say that our political system is built upon the false choice. Every election we are asked to choose between the two offerings put forward by the parties. In most cases, one option is ridiculous. That is why over 90% of incumbents win reelection. In races with real competition, the options put forward are nearly identical. Both parties offer up a plank of wood spouting whatever slogans are popular at the moment. The voters select between two robots programmed by the same people.
The reason this is a false choice is there is at least one other option. The voters could stage a boycott of the election. Maybe demand some reforms as a condition of rejoining the charade of democracy. Of course, the voters could riot at the polling stations, hurl the voting machines into the river and burn the ballots. They could vote for a third party candidate as a protest. Picking from one of the two options offered up from the uniparty is a false choice, because there are other options.
Of course, people do not select the other options because they are constantly reminded that those are all bad options. No rational person votes third-party. Even the most cynical critics of democracy say the third party option is a waste of time. Similarly, boycotts are dismissed as pointless. Rebellion, of course, is dismissed out of hand, despite the fact the country was literally founded on rebellion. The one thing everyone seems to agree upon is you have no choice but to pick from the two parties.
Another example of where the false choice is the foundation of liberal democracy is in the current Covid panic. The reason the rulers took a wrecking ball to society is they were sure they had just two options. It was either the wrecking ball or do nothing and we all know that doing nothing is never an option. They had to do something, and all of the choices were bad, so they happily went with the bad option. When you eliminate the best option, you are always left with the worst options.
The false choice plays out in more subtle ways too. Unwilling to leave well enough alone, the rulers are now trying to impose a vaccine passport. The idea is to require this for travel or to attend public gatherings. Given that liberal democracy looks a lot like fascism, businesses and banks are making noises about requiring the vaccine in order to have a job or use the financial system. You can get the vaccine, the choice is yours, but you may not be able live in society.
People are rightly upset about this turn of events. House broken conservatives are banging on about how the vaccine passport if just like when their grandparents made the Jews wear gold stars. The point of the yes/no debate on the vaccine passport is to distract from the real problem. The people in charge of public health are incompetent and have turned a minor public health problem into a disaster. Worse yet, they seem to take some pleasure in being incompetent at it.
Not so long ago, proof of vaccination was a common requirement for travel. People were given a card that showed their vaccinations. This was before computers when the people in charge were somewhat competent at their jobs. People went along with it because they understood it was for public health. They could trust the people in charge enough to go along with it. The people who cured things like polio and smallpox were proud of it and the policies that made it possible.
Today, of course, no one trusts anyone. There can be no public pride in collective accomplishment because we have accomplished nothing, other than putting men in dresses and desecrating some statues. This is why half the public is skeptical of the vaccine and the passport business. Instead of dealing with that reality, we choose to have a debate about the passport itself. The false choice here is whether to get the vaccine or not. Whether to have a proof of vaccine or not.
The promise of democracy is that public policy is no longer set according to the narrow interests of a small ruling class. Instead, the marketplace of democracy will set the priorities and select the polices based on majority will. In reality, democracy is a mass delusion where the public debates pointless issues and selects from identical options, all in order to avoid facing reality. Say what you will about aristocracy, at least everyone knows who is in charge and who is to blame.
The Covid hysteria underscores how the false choice society staggers on through inertia and dumb luck. Faced with a real crisis, the current regime would collapse in a pile, with the people bickering with one another over how best to celebrate the pile once the dust settles. The false choice society is a society built on lies the people tell one another in order to avoid reality. The trouble is reality is the thing that does not go away when you stop believing in it.
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