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magical thyme

(14,881 posts)
Tue Oct 30, 2012, 08:02 AM Oct 2012

Working class voters: why America's poor are willing to vote Republican -- Gary Younge, Guardian UK


Excellent, excellent look at why people "appear" to vote against their own economic interest....or give up and don't vote at all. I suggest that *everybody* who considers poor and struggling people "stupid" for voting GOP at least skim through this. And stop directing anger, contempt or even sympathy at them, since that only hardens them against the side that ultimately can best help them to ultimately help themselves. The bottom line is nobody wants to think of themselves as "poor" and I know first hand (thanks to both my sisters "poor-mouthing" me to the rest of the family and apparently the democrat sister all over facebook) that it generates resentment.

At least based on this article, Romney's 47% comment really is key. It's all about the contempt.

....There is nothing more vexing to liberals than poor Republicans. Their very existence rankles. It turns their world on its head and their assumptions inside out. The effort to explain them is understood not just as a political paradox but a psychological disorder. They have been duped. They must have been. How else would one explain putting your cross next to the man who derided them as "victims" among the 47% "I don't worry about". To many liberals these are turkeys voting for Christmas or lemmings off for a leap; the condemned tying the noose for their own execution....

On some level explaining why poorer whites would vote for the Republicans demands a resource sorely lacking in American political culture at present – particularly during election time: empathy. There are more to "interests" than just the economic. If someone's core conviction is that abortion is murder or gay marriage is wrong then their decision to vote for a candidate who is against abortion or gay marriage is not an act of delusion but conviction. In any case working class white voters who are against abortion are significantly more likely to vote Democrat than their more affluent counterparts. So the economy still matters....

'They say they want less help for themselves'

In a report from Minnesota earlier this year the New York Times examined the growing number of people who were simultaneously dependent on government aid and against more government spending. "Many people say they are angry because the government is wasting money and giving money to people who do not deserve it," it concluded. "But more than that, they say they want to reduce the role of government in their own lives. They are frustrated that they need help, feel guilty for taking it and resent the government for providing it. They say they want less help for themselves; less help in caring for relatives; less assistance when they reach old age."

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Working class voters: why America's poor are willing to vote Republican -- Gary Younge, Guardian UK (Original Post) magical thyme Oct 2012 OP
It Takes Someone From the Guardian to Tackle This Issue? dynasaw Oct 2012 #1
Good question. midnight Oct 2012 #10
Another good book on this subject is "What's The Matter With Kansas?" Gumboot Oct 2012 #2
Starting it now. Brigid Oct 2012 #12
they want "less assistance when they reach old age". Yeah, I'm sure they are all wealthy... antigop Oct 2012 #3
Yeah. Well. I still think it's stupid. Squinch Oct 2012 #4
They must be running a series of articles on this subject. MicaelS Oct 2012 #5
Well... LeftishBrit Oct 2012 #14
It still makes no sense to me. Brigid Oct 2012 #6
That's the thing - economics do not trump everything else TBF Oct 2012 #8
When you are poor. . . Brigid Oct 2012 #9
They shouldn't but they do it - TBF Oct 2012 #11
But you are wrong. MicaelS Oct 2012 #15
A good start, doesn't go deep enough into policy tho- kenny blankenship Oct 2012 #7
But the working class should want to maintain Medicare flamingdem Oct 2012 #17
con artistry and demagoguery goes a long way, unfortunately. Bill USA Oct 2012 #13
Yes, this is the answer, let's not get fancy flamingdem Oct 2012 #16


(998 posts)
1. It Takes Someone From the Guardian to Tackle This Issue?
Tue Oct 30, 2012, 08:16 AM
Oct 2012

Where are our own journalist and media who should be hammering in this issue into the public awareness?


(531 posts)
2. Another good book on this subject is "What's The Matter With Kansas?"
Tue Oct 30, 2012, 09:57 AM
Oct 2012

I know it's a few years old now, but well worth finding a copy.


(17,621 posts)
12. Starting it now.
Tue Oct 30, 2012, 05:12 PM
Oct 2012

I had a copy, but had never gotten around to reading it. I dug it out. Thanks for the reminder!


(12,778 posts)
3. they want "less assistance when they reach old age". Yeah, I'm sure they are all wealthy...
Tue Oct 30, 2012, 10:34 AM
Oct 2012

to take care of themselves and won't need healthcare in their old age.



(8,747 posts)
5. They must be running a series of articles on this subject.
Tue Oct 30, 2012, 11:06 AM
Oct 2012

This is from the other day. Why working-class people vote conservative

What stood out to me was this:

But on matters relating to group loyalty, respect for authority and sanctity (treating things as sacred and untouchable, not only in the context of religion), it sometimes seems that liberals lack the moral taste buds, or at least, their moral "cuisine" makes less use of them.

Similarly for liberty. Americans and Britons all love liberty, yet when liberty and care conflict, the left is more likely to choose care. This is the crux of the US's monumental battle over Obama's healthcare plan. Can the federal government compel some people to buy a product (health insurance) in order to make a plan work that extends care to 30 million other people? The derogatory term "nanny state" is rarely used against the right (pastygate being perhaps an exception). Conservatives are more cautious about infringing on individual liberties (eg of gun owners in the US and small businessmen) in order to protect vulnerable populations (such as children, animals and immigrants).

In sum, the left has a tendency to place caring for the weak, sick and vulnerable above all other moral concerns. It is admirable and necessary that some political party stands up for victims of injustice, racism or bad luck. But in focusing so much on the needy, the left often fails to address – and sometimes violates – other moral needs, hopes and concerns. When working-class people vote conservative, as most do in the US, they are not voting against their self-interest; they are voting for their moral interest. They are voting for the party that serves to them a more satisfying moral cuisine.


(41,169 posts)
14. Well...
Tue Oct 30, 2012, 06:09 PM
Oct 2012

this may be. However, I am somewhat sceptical. Admittedly, I am biased, because I do consider that the willingness to care for and help people who are in need is one of the most important moral virtues in the world (second only to avoiding active harm to others); and the attitude that perhaps upsets me the most is ideological harshness toward vulnerable people; the idea that people ought to be forced to 'stand on their own feet'; that there is a large number of 'undeserving poor'; and that denying them help is a moral good. Fundamentally, I do not so much disapprove of such harshness because I'm a left-winger; I am a left-winger because I disapprove of such harshness.

Of course, I am to some extent accepting the right-wing framing of the argument, by even using the term 'vulnerable people'. The world is not divided into the vulnerable and the invulnerable. Everybody is vulnerable at certain times and on certain issues. Everybody needs help at times. Some people need it more often than others, and/or have fewer resources. But the issue is not one of being charitable to some specific group of the Truly Vulnerable, but of acknowledging that everyone needs help sometimes, and that helping people is a good thing, not a bad thing. In particular, the current Right are inclined to regard the need for government benefits as some form of addiction from which people should be required to go 'cold turkey' (I;ve seen this metaphor used explicitly), rather than as a consequence of unemployment which in its turn is usually due to a reduction in the number of jobs.

Now: there are two issues here. One is whether people who are poor or disabled or ill or unemployed or in a vulnerable position (e.g. currently those affected by the storms) should be helped or whether in most cases it is a moral good to treat them harshly. The other is whether the government is the best source of help. I disagree strongly with people who think that private enterprise is usually better than government in providing help and services - even if I had no previous ideological tendencies that way, my experience has shown me that private enterprise is often very inefficient compared even with indifferent government services - and charitable organizations are great but rarely sufficient. But I do not have the same moral condemnation for people who consider government intrinsically inefficient in providing services, or even who are paranoid about government, as I do for those who think that so-called 'tough love' is good for people in a vulnerable position, and/or that they should be automatically suspected of being fraudulent or undeserving.

In my opinion, anyone who considers that the Right 'offer the most satisfying moral cuisine' either does not really know what the Right proposes; is influenced by paranoia e.g. about government wanting to herd them into death camps, etc.; or, if they really consider the Right's harsh philosophy as in line with theirs, is corrupted by true evil.

To be fair: not everyone who takes a harsh attitude to people in need of help is right-wing, and vice versa. The nastiest person whom I knew personally, who seemed actively to enjoy creating problems for people in vulnerable positions, especially those with illnesses or disabilities, was in fact generally a left-wing voter. But the two do go together more than would be expected by chance.


(17,621 posts)
6. It still makes no sense to me.
Tue Oct 30, 2012, 12:06 PM
Oct 2012

The story is told of a young man from a small, impoverished Irish village who emigrated to the US. He got a job, made new friends, etc. He was always bragging to his new friends about how beautiful and magical the Old Country was, as Irish expats often do. That caused one of his friends to decide to visit Ireland to see for himself. When he returned from his trip, he said to the Irishman, "Oh, yes, Ireland was beautiful--just wonderful. How could you bear to leave? I could hardly do it myself.". To which the Irishman replied, "You can't eat the scenery."

No, you can't eat the scenery. And you can't feed the kids voting against abortion or gay marriage, even if you don't like them. Economic concerns really do trump everything else when you're voting, like it or not.


(31,873 posts)
8. That's the thing - economics do not trump everything else
Tue Oct 30, 2012, 01:34 PM
Oct 2012

I come to the subject from the other side. When Bush tax cuts expire we'll be paying at least 10K more a year. I don't think in the scheme of things it is more important to keep that tax cut vs. helping folks in the 47% who are losing their jobs, homes, etc... I am willing to vote on moral principles rather than economics and that leads me to Obama against my own financial interest. Does that make sense?


(17,621 posts)
9. When you are poor. . .
Tue Oct 30, 2012, 02:32 PM
Oct 2012

Or at least working class, though, economics does trump everything else. What you are doing is quite laudable. But those of lower income do not have the luxury of voting against their own economic interests.


(31,873 posts)
11. They shouldn't but they do it -
Tue Oct 30, 2012, 03:59 PM
Oct 2012

I agree we need to work on our message and we need to do more. Obama did a few excellent things that affect working folks - Lilly Ledbetter, supporting Planned Parenthood, Auto company bailout, those with pre-existing conditions can't be denied insurance coverage. Good starts but we need more.

Personally I'm not all that impressive. But I do have a good memory. I remember being a factory kid, painting strike signs with my dad, accepting VA benefits (as the child of a disabled war veteran I had the GI bill for college), and accepting pell grants. There have been times in my life when I have been poor and when I have had help. I only seek to repay the favor and it's what any decent person should do.


(8,747 posts)
15. But you are wrong.
Tue Oct 30, 2012, 09:40 PM
Oct 2012

To some people Economic concerns really do NOT trump everything else.

There are many people in this country, mainly Christian, who are Economically Liberal, but they are Socially Conservative. They are Socially Conservative because they are deeply religious, and their religious faith is the center of their lives. And thus their Socially Conservative value trump their Economically Liberalism.

They view modern Atheism as attacking their religious faith, and attempting to remove all religious faith out of American Society and make America a purely Secular Society. They believe that the Left is attempting to "force" Homosexuality on them and make Homosexuality equivalent to Heterosexuality, thus devaluing Heterosexuality. These two issues are the hot button issues that drive these people. They view Atheism and Homosexuality as "Abominations". And in the Old Testament., God destroyed, not one, but TWO cities, Sodom and Gomorrah for the "sin" of Homosexuality.

They believe that by doing these two things the modern Left is attempting to destroy the moral foundations of America, and thus destroy America itself, and "American Exceptionalism".

I have family members and co-workers who believe this way. These people say they will never vote Democratic as long as the party supports these two issues. They also say they would vote Democratic all the time if the party jettisoned these two issues.

Remember these people are very devout, and they believe their Faith and their God tells them to oppose Atheism and Homosexuality with every fiber of their being. They are NOT going to "sell out" their Social values for money, no matter how much money the Left promises them.

I don not agree with their mindset, but I also realize nothing I can say will change their minds and hearts.

kenny blankenship

(15,689 posts)
7. A good start, doesn't go deep enough into policy tho-
Tue Oct 30, 2012, 01:07 PM
Oct 2012

The root cause is very simple. Democrats haven't done squat for the white working class since the early 1960s, when they passed Medicare. Since then, all they've gotten from the Democrats is condescension, accusations of racism, nativism, sexism, etc. - and the Dems joining with Pukes to raise their payroll taxes. This makes them vulnerable to the Repuke line that Dems are taking their earnings and give them to the "wrong" people, ie minorities, who "refuse to work" and earn their way in life. They'll tell you they know this, but can't prove it with numbers. They're half right: Democrats and Republicans have indeed been taking their money and giving it to the wrong people: it's been funding the gap left in the federal budget by tax cuts for the wealthier classes for 30 years! The net result is that working poor are now confirmed fatalists about taxes. In fact they are Second Generation fatalists, since Reagan and Tip O'Neill and Bob Dole worked that first "Grand Bargain" To Screw The Working Class back in the early 1980s when the current working class were kids watching their parents struggling and collapsing under the simultaneous burden of deliberate deindustrialization, union busting and rising payroll taxes. The working class have therefore an unshakeable sense born of their harsh experience that whatever their diminishing income is being taken for, it will mostly not be used to benefit people like themselves. If there's some "program" out there, they generally won't qualify for it because they actually have a job or several jobs. (Most of them would prefer to have a job or two and not be able to make ends meet than to accept government assistance sufficient or insufficient to their needs.) Since the axiom all my tax money goes to benefit others is the one thing they think they can rely on from the government now and in the future, they would rather join with rich Republicans and push the overall level of taxation down. Of course Republicans are happy to merely shift the tax burden onto working poor folks, and Democrats as the other party of the rich are often happy to join them too, but that's never an overt plank of the Republican anti-tax rhetoric. They just talk about reducing taxes, "fair" taxes, "flat" taxes and so on. How much less they will be allowed to keep if Republicans have their way on income taxes, than the rich will be allowed to keep, and how the inevitable budgetary shortfall will be made up in higher CONSUMPTION taxes imposed by their state, is always left as a surprise for the working class to discover, each on their own as the march of political events and their native intelligence shall permit. They're on their own like this because the Democratic Party, with the exception of a few marginalized figures like Howard Dean, DOES NOT CARE TO REPRESENT THESE PEOPLE NOR TO APPEAL TO THESE PEOPLE ANYMORE. The Democrats don't make their case to these people and frankly they DON'T HAVE ONE TO MAKE.


(39,294 posts)
16. Yes, this is the answer, let's not get fancy
Wed Oct 31, 2012, 01:01 AM
Oct 2012

The Republicans use resentment and create the image of people living on the dole - immigrants, minorities, women are thrown in as people who really should stay home and not compete. Those emotions are strong, combine that with well crafted lies, or lies that make them feel good, add the culture around them filling in details and confirming and there you have it.

To get out would be to reject your culture and way of life, and admit you swallowed lies and were duped.

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