Why People Vote Against Their Interests

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I actually called the program and asked why, even in the face of what should be overwhelming evidence, people continue to vote Conservative, and the reply was that corporate-funded right-wing outlets had more funds available to spread their ideas. I am only partially satisfied with that answer. In my experience, (and I could also cite a source if I could remember what it was) people believe what they want to believe, no matter how much you tell them otherwise. And, if you give them facts or evidence they don't want to hear, they won't listen or believe you, or they won't even remember what you just said.

If you accept my premise, then why is it that people want to believe the Conservative ideology, and vote accordingly?

JanineK
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May. 20, 2010 12:30 pm

Comments

Your premise is that liberal thought is infallable, and somehow, conservatives must reject their reality and accept yours. I respectfully suggest parsing the question in some manner other than "Do you still beat your wife?"

Somehow this question makes me think of the quote that defines conservatives as "a liberal who has been mugged by reality".

While on the subject of Irving Kristol quotes; this one may be appropriate here. "What rules the world is idea, because ideas define the way reality is perceived."

Paleo-con
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Last week a salesman from Michigan called and commented that his customers across the state have a real hatred for President Obama.

I encounter this as well. I think it is worthy of a lengthy segment on the show: "Why Americans (conservatives and moderates as well, unfortunately) hate Obama."

I would like to hear Thom interview 2 or 3 experts on this topic. I think this phenomenon, more than any other single issue, will drive voters in November. My sense is that an awful lot of people can't wait to get to the polls to vote against Barack. A recent NYT story told how he plans to stay away from close Congressional races.

I think it goes deeper than "I lost my job," or "I lost my house," or "I'm afraid I'll lose my job and house." I think it's personal, emotional...... " In many cases, I think it's not race. I think it has something to do with a lack of affinity. An inability to identify. A dearth of emotional connection. "You don't know me. You're foreign from me. I don't understand you. I don't trust you." I think it's arugula.

But I want to hear what Thom and selected experts think. And I want to hear how we (David Axelrod, are you listening?) solve it.

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leslielindeman
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Aug. 2, 2010 8:45 am

My premise is that conservative thought in action has lowered workers' wages, undercut legal protection for workers, sent jobs overseas, favored big insurance companies over sick individuals, whacked environmental laws...You get the idea, I'm sure.

So my question is not, "do you still beat your wife," so much as, why do "wives" stay with a party that habitually abuses them?

JanineK
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May. 20, 2010 12:30 pm

There are two narratives in the American story that parallel their way thru our history, rugged individualism and mutual aid. Depending on which narrative you subscribe, you are more or less likely to be conservative or liberal. Personally, I believe in mutual aid, so I see US history from the view point of the miners, auto workers, and textile workers who organized, protested, sweat, bled and died for a decent day's hours and a decent day's wage. From the view point of the silent sentinels standing in front of the white house in 1919 asking the simple question "How long Mr. President until women vote?" Four young men from NC A&T and a seamstress from Montgomery who sat down so that I could stand up. The Bonus Army, the Underground Railroad, the Settlement Houses, these things speak to me.

Other people think in terms of the great men of history and how they bent the will of a nation to their demands.

Those people will, in all likelihood, hold the belief it is better to starve free and die, that live beholding to anyone (even if that means other have to starve as well)

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athenaawakened
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

I think I remember part of Thom's answer on that question as being something to the effect that the con-jobs (my description, I know) have enough money to put forth the demogogues that mouth the right words ('personal freedom', 'government interference', etc) in a highly structured corporate media ready-made to play it.

Psychologically, I think it portends more to an instilled distrust in one's own character, thoughts and intuition--in a way, a sort of 'truth' to 'Original Sin'.

Quote JanineK:

So my question is not, "do you still beat your wife," so much as, why do "wives" stay with a party that habitually abuses them?

Good point. And, if 'ideas' are what 'creates reality', then, the movie, Inception, that is out right now maybe asking the most pertinent question--why have 'reality' at all? Isn't our 'thoughts on reality' enough to 'create it'--or even enough to 'sustain it'? As far as what we think of reality as the ones thinking of reality, I think that basis will have an 'Original Sin' component--who am 'I' to 'think on reality'? How can we 'love our neighbors as ourselves' if we don't 'love ourselves'? While answering that question is problematic, the solution to that answer may even be more so....

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Kerry
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote JanineK:

I actually called the program and asked why, even in the face of what should be overwhelming evidence, people continue to vote Conservative, and the reply was that corporate-funded right-wing outlets had more funds available to spread their ideas. I am only partially satisfied with that answer. In my experience, (and I could also cite a source if I could remember what it was) people believe what they want to believe, no matter how much you tell them otherwise. And, if you give them facts or evidence they don't want to hear, they won't listen or believe you, or they won't even remember what you just said.

If you accept my premise, then why is it that people want to believe the Conservative ideology, and vote accordingly?

I don't think that conservative see themselves as voting against their own interests any more than progressives see themselves as voting aginst their own interests. Liberals think that their policies work, and conservatives think that their policies work. Believe me, conservatives are as dumbfounded about why progressives vote the way they do as progressives are about why conservatives vote the way they do.

I believe they are both making choices that they believe to be in their best interests. Perhaps what you're really asking is, "Why don't conservatives vote the way I think they ought to?" If that's the case, I'll bet that many conservatives are wondering exactly the same thing about progressives.

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rbs
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Janine, I hear your question. I ask myself the same question. Even when Bush was at his worst there were still 25% of the population who supported him. Not considering this group, still Republicans win. People, generally, vote their pocketbooks at election time. They also believe what they are told, if they hear it ofter enough. Also, mudslinging at the very end works because there can be no defense, and the mud, however deceitful, sticks. I guess I am saying TV adds are key in manipulating election results.

Still, given all the evidence, why would anyone listen to the propaganda and vote for the party that is going to screw them? Over and over again, Republican administrations have screwed the middle class, and the poor. All my life I've seen it. It is very puzzling.

dhavid
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Jul. 16, 2010 9:41 am

Isn't that sort of like saying: "We should vote to reinstitute slavery. Slavery is in our best interest. They will feed me, Cloth me, provide me with shelter and healthcare and all I have to do is work"

Voting for your best interest isn't necessarily the Right thing to do.

Quote rbs:I believe they are both making choices that they believe to be in their best interests. Perhaps what you're really asking is, "Why don't conservatives vote the way I think they ought to?" If that's the case, I'll bet that many conservatives are wondering exactly the same thing about progressives..

Well put..

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Johnny_Boy
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Aug. 2, 2010 8:35 am

JanineK, I think the question boils down to "Why do conservatives (other than the really rich ones who are voting in their short-term interests) still believe the conservative ideology even when the evidence proves otherwise?

Part of the answer is the money-fueled propaganda that people are subjected to, which is Thom's answer. Another part of the answer is that many people find conservative ideas appealing within the context of our culture -- the rugged individualist, and all that nonsense. The third part is that psychological forces make it difficult for people to change their minds once made up. One such process is called cognitive dissonance, which is essentially the uncomfortable feeling when the evidence refutes what one believes. The most common response to cognitive dissonance, if feasible, is to refute the evidence. Another example is called confirmation bias. This is the process through which people selectively seek and highlight that evidence which seems to favor their predetermined beliefs. For example, take a look at all these people running around claiming that the Biblical prophecies are coming true.

All in all, your question is an excellent one, and I agree with your assesment, but thought I could add a lot more details. Of course, there are conservatives who may be asking the same question of progressives, but I think a fair evaluation of the evidence favors our side.

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Natural Lefty
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

The crucial question here is what sways undecided, and independent voters e.g., Progressive Linguist George Lakoff refers to these voters as 'bi-conceptuals?'

Enclosed is an understandable link (understandable that much of Lakoff's findings are detailed and lengthy) on 'bi-conceptuals.

What is Framing?:

http://www.pocketprogressive.com/tiki-index.php?page=What+is+Framing%3F

Related: Encouraging 'voter appeal' - for the very high voter-turnout favoring the DEMS.

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Semantic Monitor
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Look at the numbers,the conservatives votes don`t match up.They`re stealing the elections.The 2010 elections will need a lot of watching.It`s so bad for rulers,money cannot buy elections.We don`t watch the counting and the computers we might as well stick our head in the sand and let a truck run over us.

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tayl44
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

You mean like the people at those Tea Party rallies last summer who were holding up signs which read,

KEEP THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF MY MEDICARE!

Umm, really does one need to analyze that any further...

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meljomur
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Slavery isn't anyone's best interest, especially liberal's (and potential slaves, but that's a given), because slavery is based on injustice and injury. Here's a link to an article on liberal and conservative core moral values: http://www.utne.com/Politics/Liberals-Arent-Un-American-Conservatives-Arent-Ignorant.aspx

JanineK
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May. 20, 2010 12:30 pm

Let's face it, a lot of stuff we have to deal with politically isn't easy to understand. Like economics. And it doesn't help that you can find an economist to say almost anything you like. Lay all of them in the world end to end and they couldn't reach a conclusion.

But other things are easy to understand, like the idea that killing babies is wrong. What's tougher to get across and think about are the subtleties of when life begins or what that question even means. Or what's the proper balance between protecting the life of a pre-born (maybe) child vs. the legitimate right to privacy in our medical affairs.

Then if you are just an ordinary person with an ordinary grasp of these things and a politician or pundit comes along and says one thing that you definitely agree with (like abortion) for whatever reason, then you are going to have a tendency to go along with that person when they say other things that you don't know so much about (like economics).

And then there are some things that we just want to believe. We want to believe that "our team" is on the right side. That when we go to war, it's for the right reasons and we MUST win at all costs. To admit that might not be true is to admit the possibility that our soldiers may have died in vain. That's not easy to stomach.

I have to give credit where credit is due. It was a political masterstroke to conflate genuine religiousity and well-meaning patriotism with support for neo-liberal economic policy. Now you have a situation where supporting higher taxes on the rich and suing for peace is considered Anti-Christian to a lot of folks. It makes no sense when you step back and look at it from the outside, but they managed to pull it off.

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BadLiberal
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Well, on the surface, a lot of what the right says makes sense., such as, the wealthy need more wealth so they can create jobs. In practice, unless wages are high enough for consumer demand to make the job creation pay off...the wealth is thrown at Wall Street...not job creation..

When wealth at the top exceeds the productive demand of any economy...the money is withdrawn from the economy and placed into financial paper. Ultimately, the economy slows from the lack of money supply/purchasing power within the economy..There isn't enough money supply in circulation to purchase everything that is produced.

Say's law expresses it this way:

Production cost / wages/ money supply = aggregate. The whole of the economy. Income from profit/wages, spent on goods/services (including production costs) maintains the aggregate. Balance.

Income NOT spent on goods/services (on consumer goods, construction, factory investment, etc.,upsets the balance. What the economy produces isn't sold. It slows or grinds to a halt...

One reason to tax excess income...is to put the money back into circulation through infrastructure, entitlement programs, etc. that would otherwise be withdrawn from the economy and put into financial paper. Yet, nearly everyone agrees raising taxes is a bad. idea....even if their own taxes aren't effected. That's a pretty easy sell for wealthy conservatives. Poor conservative buy it.

Taxation policy is a tool to maintain the circular flow of production/purchase.. Its sole purpose isn't to finance government....yet it is. It finances the means government can utilize to keep the economy in balance....working. We used to recognize that....and do it. The process created the largest, most prosperous middle class the world had ever seen. We no longer recognize that....and no longer do it..The middle class is quickly declining.

Conservatives, focusing on their own pocket rather than the economy as a whole fail to see that. Trickle down policies ...excess unspendable incomes at the top tier....generally lead to financial bubbles and recessions....some are so severe. they aren't self-correcting as in Great Depression #1.

."Great Recession" is a euphemism for Great Depression #2 now unfolding..

Politics in any nation is ultimately about who gets what. The rest of the debates are sideshows to garner support..

Progressive attempts to maintain a viable, prosperous , working economy are seen as confiscation of wealth. They aren't.They are merely attempts to maintain a viable, prosperous, economy.that works for everyone. Ultimately, they work for everyone or they end up working for no one. Sideshows such as who can marry who are pretty irrelevant compared to economic collapse.

When people aren't sleeping under bridges or eating out of dumpsters. they focus on the sideshows.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Some of the decisions are generational bias, they were raised that way and taught from early on who their enemies are. KKK does it, Baptists do it, 'conservatives' do it. To question your upbringing is just not done by conservatives. They will not vote anything other than party, Democrats will vote out of party. Pepsi drinkers will drink Coke, Coke drinkers will shun Pepsi.

There is also a belief in suffering, because the payoff will come in the next life, so if one party promotes suffering, they are giving some what they want

http://www.nogreaterjoy.org/ this conservative ministry teaches you how to properly beat your children, their book is Training Up Your Child, really-- training-- like in a pet, and when properly trained per biblical law, they will vote as they were trained.

We hold beliefs that ultimately dictate the application of the rod in child training.

Christians view this temporal world as the smallest part of eternity. This life is just preparation for the next. We say this not to diminish our responsibility or ambition in the here-and-now, but to point out how and why our child-training methods differ from those who do not believe as we do. This life is best lived when it is lived as the first moments of eternity. The main goal of a Christian is to lay up treasure in heaven, not on earth. So in raising our children, our first concern is their spiritual welfare. We must impart to them the faith of our fathers.

We will show how the rod is essential to communicating the Biblical world-view. A child that is raised without proper application of the rod is deprived of a valuable visual aid, essential to interpreting reality in this life as well as in the next.

The evil is gov't, and schools, they are taking over god's rule.

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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote polycarp2:

Taxation policy is a tool to maintain the circular flow of production/purchase.. Its sole purpose isn't to finance government....yet it is. It finances the means government can utilize to keep the economy in balance....working.

Yes, the folks in Washington are great at keeping things "in balance... working."

Are you suggesting that the government is better equipped to allocate scarce resources than the people who own them? If you work and earn and save, then it's best to turn over the fruits of your labor to the central planners to "keep things in balance"?

Where will we find the angels who will do this for us, and keep the interests of the citizens above their own?

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PeeWee Returns
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

The question posed by the thread title presupposes that people do indeed vote against their best interests. Who makes that determination? Citizens vote for candidates for a variety of reasons. We may not like the reasons given but it doesn't really matter. People can vote for whomever they choose for whatever reason they choose.

Its like the phrase..."the will of the people". You hear this constantly from politicians, pundits, message board posters, etc. Who, or what, determines what the will of the people is? Is the will of the people in my state of WV the same as the will of the people in California, or Maine

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Coalage
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote PeeWee Returns:
Quote polycarp2:

Taxation policy is a tool to maintain the circular flow of production/purchase.. Its sole purpose isn't to finance government....yet it is. It finances the means government can utilize to keep the economy in balance....working.

Yes, the folks in Washington are great at keeping things "in balance... working."

Are you suggesting that the government is better equipped to allocate scarce resources than the people who own them? If you work and earn and save, then it's best to turn over the fruits of your labor to the central planners to "keep things in balance"?

Where will we find the angels who will do this for us, and keep the interests of the citizens above their own?

I'm suggesting that when too much money is withdrawn from the real economy and placed into financial paper...economies slow and eventually grind to a halt.. Allocating money to bubbles doesn't seem to fare very well. A large middle class arose out of recognizing that. The alternative is period economic collapses. Not a whole lot of people benefit from those.

This 30-year old ideology begun under Reagan is nuts.. Unfortunately, it's the only one those under fifty are familiar with. It's been pounded into them since early adulthood.

It has taken the U.S. 30 years to impliment fully the neo-liberal economic policies Argentina managed to adopt in 2 weeks. Finance, corporations and the super rich reigned with a free hand.. Their wacky neo-liberal economic policies became the order of the day. Thinking we can avoid the same result....large-scale poverty and eventual economic collapse is foolhardy.

People accustomed to poverty accept it. People thrown into it don't. When their numbers become too large, they spontaneously rebel. I'm too old to dodge bullets, loud noises scare my dog, and babies should be able to die from old age rather than malnutrition and easily treatable disease.

Just how far does the U.S. have to decline before the current crop of pretend conservatives get it? How far does it have to decline before the current crop of pretend liberals get it? Majorities in both parties have adopted neo-liberalism....policies rejected by conservatives/liberals of the past following the Great Depressison..

Using the same policies that brought about our economic woes to cure our economic woes is stupid. Recovery is a joke.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Well, Poly,

I was with a group of people this weekend that I didn't know very well. Most of them probably consider themselves to be conservatives. (They were all very nice people). A few commented on how they don't understand why people are trying to tell them that we have such a bad economy. The malls are full, their friends are buying new cars (these are not rich people), things look just fine. (Not that they will credit Obama for any of this).

Just how far does the U.S. have to decline before the current crop of pretend conservatives get it? How far does it have to decline before the current crop of pretend liberals get it?
Charts, numbers, statistics aren't going to do it. It simply has to Look Like It to most people. It's all about appearances.

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Art
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The Death of the Middle Class was by Design...

Even in the face of the so-called Recovery, poverty and inequality are getting worse in our country, and more wealth and power is flowing straight to the top. According to Paul Buchheit over at Alternet, this is the end result of winner-take-all capitalism, and this destruction of the working class has all been by design.

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