Last week the BBC posted an intriguing synopsis of the tendency of a majority of Americans to vote against their economic interests. A classic example (though not referred to in this particular article) was the general support for the Bush Administration’s tax cuts, though less than 4% of the population directly benefited from them. Though we all periodically act “against” our own self-interest, analysts are wondering about the political fallout of such decisions at the national level.
For example, the article sites the example of some 87% resistance by voting Texans to any healthcare plan currently under debate in Washington, though just under 66% of those same Texans have healthcare (See statistics by). Why would they not support any reform that might give them health care?
The article cites Drew Westen and his work on politics and story-telling. His thesis is that facts are useful to politicians, but politicians must tell stories to win votes and support. And the Republicans are better at telling scary stories about health-care reform than Democrats are at stating who will be covered for what procedures and which costs.
But wait. There’s more! Thomas Franks () adds to the commentary the tendency of Americans to be anti-elitist — at least the intellectual and cultural elite. He believes the Republican Party has stirred anti-elitist sentiments toward Democrats and their policies and statistics. The fly-in-the-ointment, though, is that many who support such anti-intellectualism of the Republican Party also support a party keen to support a business and economic elite who rarely feel compelled to act in the voters’ interests.
Sometimes we need an outside pair of eyes to give us the best perspectives of ourselves.