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  • Why do people often vote against their own interests?

    Political scientist Dr David Runciman looks at why is there often such deep opposition to reforms that appear to be of obvious benefit to voters.
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    But it is striking that the people who most dislike the whole idea of health care reform - the ones who think it is socialist, godless, a step on the road to a police state - are often the ones it seems designed to help.

    In Texas, where barely two-thirds of the population have full health insurance and over a fifth of all children have no cover at all, opposition to the legislation is currently running at 87%.
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    Why are so many American voters enraged by attempts to change a horribly inefficient system that leaves them with premiums they often cannot afford?

    Why are they manning the barricades to defend insurance companies that routinely deny claims and cancel policies?
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    In his book The Political Brain, psychologist Drew Westen, an exasperated Democrat, tried to show why the Right often wins the argument even when the Left is confident that it has the facts on its side.

    He uses the following exchange from the first presidential debate between Al Gore and George Bush in 2000 to illustrate the perils of trying to explain to voters what will make them better off:

    Gore: "Under the governor's plan, if you kept the same fee for service that you have now under Medicare, your premiums would go up by between 18% and 47%, and that is the study of the Congressional plan that he's modelled his proposal on by the Medicare actuaries."

    Bush: "Look, this is a man who has great numbers. He talks about numbers. I'm beginning to think not only did he invent the internet, but he invented the calculator. It's fuzzy math. It's trying to scare people in the voting booth."

    Mr Gore was talking sense and Mr Bush nonsense - but Mr Bush won the debate. With statistics, the voters just hear a patronising policy wonk, and switch off.
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    Thomas Frank, the author of the best-selling book What's The Matter with Kansas, is an even more exasperated Democrat and he goes further than Mr Westen.

    He believes that the voters' preference for emotional engagement over reasonable argument has allowed the Republican Party to blind them to their own real interests.

    The Republicans have learnt how to stoke up resentment against the patronising liberal elite, all those do-gooders who assume they know what poor people ought to be thinking.

    Right-wing politics has become a vehicle for channelling this popular anger against intellectual snobs. The result is that many of America's poorest citizens have a deep emotional attachment to a party that serves the interests of its richest.
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    "You vote to strike a blow against elitism and you receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our life times, workers have been stripped of power, and CEOs are rewarded in a manner that is beyond imagining.

    "It's like a French Revolution in reverse in which the workers come pouring down the street screaming more power to the aristocracy."

    As Mr Frank sees it, authenticity has replaced economics as the driving force of modern politics. The authentic politicians are the ones who sound like they are speaking from the gut, not the cerebral cortex. Of course, they might be faking it, but it is no joke to say that in contemporary politics, if you can fake sincerity, you have got it made.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8474611.stm

    I've forgotten just what are the benefits that accrue to voters from having two political parties?

    Where does one go to get individual/custom bumper stickers fabricated?

    I'm thinking raja's "signature" would make an appropriate bumper sticker, of course without the "raja."

    raja

    Boycott Big Banks • Vote Out Incumbents
    Last edited by Jim Nickerson; 01-30-10, 11:01 AM.
    Jim 69 y/o

    "...Texans...the lowest form of white man there is." Robert Duvall, as Al Sieber, in "Geronimo." (see "Location" for examples.)

    Dedicated to the idea that all people deserve a chance for a healthy productive life. B&M Gates Fdn.

    Good judgement comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgement. Unknown.

  • #2
    Re: Why do people often vote against their own interests?

    Because in most elections the only choices are Democrat or Republican.

    Neither Democrat nor Republican represents my interests.

    Cindy

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Why do people often vote against their own interests?

      Originally posted by cindykimlisa View Post
      Because in most elections the only choices are Democrat or Republican.

      Neither Democrat nor Republican represents my interests.

      Cindy
      So what is your personal plan to do something about the fact that your interests are not represented by the political parties?

      There is no way that everyone's "personal interests" can be reflected in the election of lawmakers.

      It would be nice/much more appropriate, I think, if those wishing to govern began campaigning on platforms that attempted to encompass what would be in the better interests of the a vast or near-vast majority of people vs. what is in the best interests of 50.001% it takes to get elected.
      Jim 69 y/o

      "...Texans...the lowest form of white man there is." Robert Duvall, as Al Sieber, in "Geronimo." (see "Location" for examples.)

      Dedicated to the idea that all people deserve a chance for a healthy productive life. B&M Gates Fdn.

      Good judgement comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgement. Unknown.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Why do people often vote against their own interests?

        It would be nice/much more appropriate, I think, if those wishing to govern began campaigning on platforms that attempted to encompass what would be in the better interests of the a vast or near-vast majority of people vs. what is in the best interests of 50.001% it takes to get elected.
        Platforms are meaningless. Even in the heyday, when conventions actually discussed and voted publicly on issues for platforms during the week that culminated in the crowning of the candidate, platforms were still pretty minor. They mostly served the purpose of being something the canvassers could hand out to the minority of people who actually wanted to read about the candidate. Convention coverage on network TV (before worthless cable) highlighted the platforms and the back and forth debate on the issues to keep the still engaged populace entertained. Of course, that was back in the '50s when people actually gave a crap.

        The one who wins now is the one who gets enough money to advertise enough to get 50.001% of the voters. That is the way the funders want it. Minimum leverage is required when the scale is close to balance. If it is off balance, you have to buy enough politicians to balance it, then you have to go and buy more to tip the balance. Money wasted unless you are really rich or the issue is really profitable. If the politicians actually had to convince voters to vote for them instead of just using well funded attack ads, name calling, and exaggerated divisive issues, you would find the political system operating much differently.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Why do people often vote against their own interests?

          Originally posted by ggirod View Post
          Platforms are meaningless. Even in the heyday, when conventions actually discussed and voted publicly on issues for platforms during the week that culminated in the crowning of the candidate, platforms were still pretty minor. They mostly served the purpose of being something the canvassers could hand out to the minority of people who actually wanted to read about the candidate. Convention coverage on network TV (before worthless cable) highlighted the platforms and the back and forth debate on the issues to keep the still engaged populace entertained. Of course, that was back in the '50s when people actually gave a crap.

          The one who wins now is the one who gets enough money to advertise enough to get 50.001% of the voters. That is the way the funders want it. Minimum leverage is required when the scale is close to balance. If it is off balance, you have to buy enough politicians to balance it, then you have to go and buy more to tip the balance. Money wasted unless you are really rich or the issue is really profitable. If the politicians actually had to convince voters to vote for them instead of just using well funded attack ads, name calling, and exaggerated divisive issues, you would find the political system operating much differently.
          No disrespect to your reply, ggirod, but there is no end to comments everywhere about what is wrong with the US political system (just to narrow the focus), but what are you personally going to do about it?
          Jim 69 y/o

          "...Texans...the lowest form of white man there is." Robert Duvall, as Al Sieber, in "Geronimo." (see "Location" for examples.)

          Dedicated to the idea that all people deserve a chance for a healthy productive life. B&M Gates Fdn.

          Good judgement comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgement. Unknown.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Why do people often vote against their own interests?

            Originally posted by ggirod View Post

            The one who wins now is the one who gets enough money to advertise enough to get 50.001% of the voters. That is the way the funders want it. Minimum leverage is required when the scale is close to balance. If it is off balance, you have to buy enough politicians to balance it, then you have to go and buy more to tip the balance. Money wasted unless you are really rich or the issue is really profitable. If the politicians actually had to convince voters to vote for them instead of just using well funded attack ads, name calling, and exaggerated divisive issues, you would find the political system operating much differently.
            Yep, it's all about campaign finance reform and with the recent fit of utter insanity from the U.S. Corporate court, it's the most important issue we face today.

            No disrespect to your reply, ggirod, but there is no end to comments everywhere about what is wrong with the US political system (just to narrow the focus), but what are you personally going to do about it?
            With the all due respect Jim, but simply voting out incumbents is pretty much a waste of time. Same with talk of a 3rd party.

            Personally, I've signed petitions from Congressman Greysons office in support of several bills he would like to introduce in an effort to counter the Corporate Courts decision. I've also posted on other boards the need for a constitutional amendment to fix this Democracy ending corruption of how we elect our representatives.

            But it all goes back to the original post. An uninformed public soon becomes a misinformed public, who often vote against their own interests. Until we convince the public that the privilege of voting, that so many have given their lives for, also comes with the responsibility to cast an informed vote, I'm afraid our Democracy will be at grave risk.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Why do people often vote against their own interests?

              No disrespect to your reply, ggirod, but there is no end to comments everywhere about what is wrong with the US political system (just to narrow the focus), but what are you personally going to do about it?
              I did not intend any disrespect for your comments, either, though the forceful nature of my comments may have sounded like it. During my impressionable years, I was steeped in the political process, watched conventions and learned about platforms, volunteered for political candidates, and was committed to the process. Just before reading your comment I had read the following quote re: platforms and found it about as disturbing as anything I could have read....
              The alternative resolution demanding loyalty to the party platform was offered as a compromise by RNC member Bill Crocker of Texas, who explained that it would still bar funding to GOP moderates and help attract Tea Party votes. "No more Scozzafavas, please," Crocker stated. "No more Specters, please. No more Chafees, please." from http://rawstory.com/2010/01/gop-pass...arty-platform/
              That statement about the platform resolution managed to hit about as many of my hot buttons as possible. First, it is disingenuous because it does not intend to open the party to debate/discussion but rather move it further to the right. Secondly, it clearly states that it will help attract Tea party voters so either ... 1 - the platform is a loyalty oath for farther right politics to get Tea Party voters or 2 - it is an attempt to appease the Tea Party voters and avoid more primary opponents or third party candidates. Neither seems to be quite on the up and up. Far as I can tell it is a patch to keep the status quo continuing.

              Now, to the topic of what I am doing to fix things ...

              First, I currently track corporate money through OpenSecrets.org and intend to vote for candidates based on their Nascar stickers and, I hope, on their lack of same. I would follow the kick out the incumbents rule but some challengers are worse than the incumbents they might replace. Sorry, but absolute rules are for absolutists and I am not one.

              Secondly, I am supporting the bills from Alan Grayson and now John Conyers to limit corporate meddling with the political process and I intend to continue supporting anybody who proposes reasonable legislative (short of a constitutional convention) approaches to limit it. My personal position is that legislation to limit immediate damage followed by a real amendment to the Constitution is what is really required. Part of me would love to rally for a constitutional convention simply to scare Congress into acting, but I recognize that the Nuclear Option that might result would be the end of our nation.

              Third, I have moved the bulk of my financial activities to a credit union and continue to untangle myself from major banks. I also advise others to deal with community banks and credit unions and avoid the monsters.

              Fourth - I am consistently conducting research to understand the constellation of influences that are producing the loudest bullhorns in the political arena. Thus far, I have tenatively traced a lot of the Tea Party ideology and maybe leadership influence to a strong revival of the John Birch Society, while banking/finance is pretty obvious. Remaining are the environmental and global warming astroturf supporters, and, most recently the "prepper" movement that need to be traced to their roots.

              Fifth and Final -- One more influence that I cannot get a handle on but feel I need to, is that of "There is no difference between the parties", "Neither party is for me" and other similar nihilistic statements. While I have to agree with the sentiment in many cases, I find the resulting reaction of disengagement, powerlessness, and alienation is really dangerous. Those who understand the issues best and actually care are demotivated by those beliefs from doing anything productive to fix the system. So, I intend to find out where that meme originates so I can publicize the source and let people know who is manipulating them. If anyone has found clues to its origin, please share them.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Why do people often vote against their own interests?

                Originally posted by we_are_toast View Post
                Yep, it's all about campaign finance reform and with the recent fit of utter insanity from the U.S. Corporate court, it's the most important issue we face today.



                With the all due respect Jim, but simply voting out incumbents is pretty much a waste of time. Same with talk of a 3rd party.

                Personally, I've signed petitions from Congressman Greysons office in support of several bills he would like to introduce in an effort to counter the Corporate Courts decision. I've also posted on other boards the need for a constitutional amendment to fix this Democracy ending corruption of how we elect our representatives.

                But it all goes back to the original post. An uninformed public soon becomes a misinformed public, who often vote against their own interests. Until we convince the public that the privilege of voting, that so many have given their lives for, also comes with the responsibility to cast an informed vote, I'm afraid our Democracy will be at grave risk.
                I'm not sure "unelecting" incumbents will work either, but for it to work I suppose it would take several (3-10) electoral cycles to finally get the word across, and too it is probable some voters will never change their party commitments.

                I think Grayson is a good guy, but he got in to office on the basis of a vote for change and that may or may not continue to be the environment in his district. Getting the congress to initiate a constitutional amendment is possible, but doing so to take corporate money out of politics will work against what most elected rep's think as being in their best interests.

                I think bumper stickers are the most widespread way I can express a political opinion, and I don't drive that much.

                I might get a poster made and carry it around outside the mall or some of the local big churches in my area, or I might just as well say "screw it," and wait until someone overthrows the government.
                Jim 69 y/o

                "...Texans...the lowest form of white man there is." Robert Duvall, as Al Sieber, in "Geronimo." (see "Location" for examples.)

                Dedicated to the idea that all people deserve a chance for a healthy productive life. B&M Gates Fdn.

                Good judgement comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgement. Unknown.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Why do people often vote against their own interests?

                  Originally posted by Jim Nickerson View Post
                  No disrespect to your reply, ggirod, but there is no end to comments everywhere about what is wrong with the US political system (just to narrow the focus), but what are you personally going to do about it?
                  Didn't H.L. Mencken predict that democracies would end like this? Or was is Oswald Spengler?

                  When the state becomes a bloated juggernaut hurtling at warp speed towards oblivion the best course of action is the get out of the way (with your gold).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Why do people often vote against their own interests?

                    Getting the congress to initiate a constitutional amendment is possible, but doing so to take corporate money out of politics will work against what most elected rep's think as being in their best interests.

                    I think bumper stickers are the most widespread way I can express a political opinion, and I don't drive that much.

                    I might get a poster made and carry it around outside the mall or some of the local big churches in my area, or I might just as well say "screw it," and wait until someone overthrows the government.
                    I have to agree with your feelings - I share many of them. Reaching critical mass as a group to influence the politicians is difficult.

                    Somehow we need to convince politicians that accepting corporate support is the kiss of death and they will LOSE. Maybe people could just picket various places with pictures of politicians and their corporate logo stickers under their portrait. Maybe even include the cumulative $ in bold numbers. All the politicians, not just one's least favored.

                    Handouts with their funding and voting record could be cheap enough to produce so the whole mess could be self funded. No point in giving to any politician who is on the take, so usual donations could go to flyers. In fact, that would be a great thing to tell the party fundraisers who call for money. "Sorry, I am spending my donation printing donor identification flyers to distribute to voters in my precinct." That way they know they lose not only a donation, but a motivated worker. Could be entertaining. Hmmmmmm

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Why do people often vote against their own interests?

                      Originally posted by Jim Nickerson View Post
                      So what is your personal plan to do something about the fact that your interests are not represented by the political parties?

                      There is no way that everyone's "personal interests" can be reflected in the election of lawmakers.

                      It would be nice/much more appropriate, I think, if those wishing to govern began campaigning on platforms that attempted to encompass what would be in the better interests of the a vast or near-vast majority of people vs. what is in the best interests of 50.001% it takes to get elected.
                      Frankly Jim the response to your second question is this.

                      my personal plan is I dont give a damn which one is elected. It doesnt matter because someone always promulgates the legislation and tax codes. I read it and have been beating them at their game my whole life except for a brief period when Volker went nuts with the interest rates and when Greenspan went nuts the other way.

                      How bout you - you gotta personal plan?

                      Cindy

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Why do people often vote against their own interests?

                        Originally posted by Cindy
                        Frankly Jim the response to your second question is this.

                        my personal plan is I dont give a damn which one is elected. It doesnt matter because someone always promulgates the legislation and tax codes. I read it and have been beating them at their game my whole life except for a brief period when Volker went nuts with the interest rates and when Greenspan went nuts the other way.

                        How bout you - you gotta personal plan?
                        Cindy,

                        My plan was after about 1/3 of the way through Bush-the idiot's second term that I was done voting, thinking it a waste of time to listen to candidates and to actually spend time going and standing in a line to vote--largely I still think that as it pertains to seeing any changes during what might be the period of my life-expectancy--which under the most favorable outcomes could be 32 years, but more likely a third to half that. So for myself I expect no changes actually from the current morass over say the next 30 years. Not nearly enough people are seriously pissed. We no doubt will see changes in which party is in "power" from election to election, but the game will remain the same: corrupt, greedy bastards who interests do not lie with the long-term future of the USofA.

                        My current thinking is to vote and to vote against incumbents. Ol' raja who frequents these boards I believe is a true activist when it comes to hassling politicians. Most of the time that I am inclined to write one of the bastards that represent me, I am so pissed off that lack of civility which I am sure would be reflected in my message would most likely stop any representative's minion from even reading it much less passing on the sentiment to anyone in authority.

                        In the past I have occasionally (< two times per year) emailed my reps, but in considering doing that frequently, I think it wastes too much of my time to fill out all the required blanks on the forms on their websites necessary to then be able to send a limited email message.

                        I suppose there must be some way over the internet to fax the bastards without incurring a lot of expense. I think any expense one suffers writing on paper and mailing it, or paying for long-distance rates to fax the bastards is an absolute loss and waste of capital. We don't even have a long distance carrier on our home line, use Magic Jack instead for talking long distance--which by the way is a helluva good deal. I don't know if faxing can be integrated into Magic Jack.

                        My plan is bumper sticker. Maybe a poster or at least a sign in my front yard. I might even take someone's rec. from above to print out some handouts and distribute them in my neighborhood.

                        Cindy, what do you exactly mean when you wrote "I have been beating them at their game my whole life, except..."? The same things politically exists today that existed thirty years ago with politicians in their interests are in what benefits them, what works to get them re-elected, what benefits their parties, what benefits their biggest financial backers, and at the very end of the list way, way down at the bottom is what would help the voters and the country in its entirety.
                        Last edited by Jim Nickerson; 01-30-10, 07:38 PM.
                        Jim 69 y/o

                        "...Texans...the lowest form of white man there is." Robert Duvall, as Al Sieber, in "Geronimo." (see "Location" for examples.)

                        Dedicated to the idea that all people deserve a chance for a healthy productive life. B&M Gates Fdn.

                        Good judgement comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgement. Unknown.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Why do people often vote against their own interests?

                          Originally posted by Jim Nickerson View Post
                          I suppose there must be some way over the internet to fax
                          A google search for "send internet fax" will find numerous low cost internet fax services. You send an email to some particular address formatted just how they ask, with jpg or pdf or other image attachments, and they will fax it for you, at some modest fee of a few cents per page or dollars per month. I used myfax.com for many years, and recently switched to greenfax.com as my particular needs changed somewhat (I'm doing less faxing now, so wanted to switch from pay-per-month to pay-per-fax.)
                          Most folks are good; a few aren't.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Why do people often vote against their own interests?

                            Originally posted by ThePythonicCow View Post
                            A google search for "send internet fax" will find numerous low cost internet fax services. You send an email to some particular address formatted just how they ask, with jpg or pdf or other image attachments, and they will fax it for you, at some modest fee of a few cents per page or dollars per month. I used myfax.com for many years, and recently switched to greenfax.com as my particular needs changed somewhat (I'm doing less faxing now, so wanted to switch from pay-per-month to pay-per-fax.)
                            Thanks, PC, got snow and ice where you live?
                            Jim 69 y/o

                            "...Texans...the lowest form of white man there is." Robert Duvall, as Al Sieber, in "Geronimo." (see "Location" for examples.)

                            Dedicated to the idea that all people deserve a chance for a healthy productive life. B&M Gates Fdn.

                            Good judgement comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgement. Unknown.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Why do people often vote against their own interests?

                              Originally posted by Jim Nickerson View Post
                              Thanks, PC, got snow and ice where you live?
                              You're welcome.

                              It's chilly, but basically clear here.
                              Most folks are good; a few aren't.

                              Comment

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