Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

“They Vote Against Their Own Self-Interest”

By: inoljt,

There’s a common refrain among both parties of the American political system. Members of Group X always vote for the opposing party. But it doesn’t make sense for Group X to be so antagonistic against us. Our party’s policies are actually much more in line with what members of Group X believe. They’re voting against their own self-interest. If only members of Group X woke up and saw the light, they’d be voting for our party all the time.

More below.

For Democrats, Group X is generally the working class white southern vote. Poor white southerners, the line goes, benefit much more from Democratic economic policies than from Republican economic policies. Yet they vote strongly Republican. Why, Democrats lament, do poor white southerners continually vote against their own self-interest? If only they realized this, they would start voting Democratic.

For Republicans, Group X is the black (and, to a lesser extent, Latino) vote. I recently listened to a conservative radio host talk extensively about how it just didn’t make sense for the African-American community to be so Democratic. Black churches, for instance, are bastions of Democratic strength, yet their social policies are much more in line with Republican social policies than Democratic ones. African-Americans and Hispanics in general hold very socially conservative views on things such as religion and gay marriage; it doesn’t make sense for them to be voting Democratic when those beliefs are so opposed to Democratic ones. I’m not asking for much, the radio host said, just 30% of the black vote. It’s ridiculous to be losing African-Americans 10-to-90.

In my opinion, these arguments are less valid than they seem. Both poor white southerners and African-Americans have very good reasons to vote for the parties that they do. In both the Democratic and Republican Party there are a subtle (and sometimes not very subtle) currents of hostility towards white southerners and African-Americans, respectively. You don’t have to be in politics very long to be aware of this. White southerners and African-Americans will naturally be reluctant to vote for a party whose fundamental narrative, in many ways, paints themselves as antagonists. Voters aren’t stupid, unlike what many people say.

1 comment

  1. It is offensive when people say that and even the suggestion should (and does) raise the hackles on those who we should want to persuade rather than insult.

    People pick and choose among the candidates, or vote reflexively for a party, because of their own values.

    I vote for Democrats because they more closely align with my values. Some of the things that the Democratic party and the current administration supports may go against my own personal self-interests but overall I can support their policies.

    In Wisconsin, law enforcement and firefighters union members had a stark choice between Democrats and union busting Republicans who they perceived as being more closely aligned with their personal feelings about god, guns and gays. There was a shift but it didn’t happen because they stopped caring about the social issues but because the economic issues and the human rights issues became more important. THAT is where we need to start.

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