Americans treat elections like sports. I suspect many nations do. We have favorites, not for logical reasons but for the emotion we have applied to them.
I loved Roosevelt because everyone did. What did I know? I was only ten years old when he died. Later, I learned about the SS St. Louis and his not bombing the railroad tracks to the concentration camps. I stopped even liking him.
I liked Truman until I learned about his antisemitic wife. I still like him, but less.
I liked Ike a bit. I felt he was more a politician than a leader, both in the military and as President.
I loved Kennedy until I learned about his private life.
I hated Johnson. Later, when I added up all he accomplished, I decided he was one of the top three Presidents in U.S. history, though Vietnam killed his reputation.
I was ambivalent about Nixon and soon decided he was pretty good. At least he was more intelligent than most. Today, his support for a burglary would have been defended by 100% of the Republican party, and he never would have been forced from office. Back then, the GOP really was the party of law and order.
I thought Ford was weak and later decided he was strong. I think he could have become a fine President, given time.
I hated Jimmy Carter and still do. I like him more for his post-presidential work than for his Presidency.
I loved Reagan, but now I believe he was a phony.
I liked the elder Bush until he foolishly raised taxes after correctly promising not to.
I liked Bill Clinton until I realized his federal surpluses killed the American economy and caused the Bush II recession.
As for Bush II, eh. Eight wasted years. He attempted self-promotion and was terrible at that, too.
I was massively disappointed in Obama. I had thought he cared about the poor, but he was a proponent of federal austerity. I hope his library never gets built.
As for Trump, even before he was elected President, I wrote articles saying he was the 2nd coming of Hitler. Thank heavens he was dumb and lazy, or he would have been Hitler. I hope his library gets built in an underground bunker, where he is forced to live out his miserable life.
Finally, contrary to the pundits and the majority of Americans, I predict Biden will be remembered as one of our most effective Presidents, who despite a fascist GOP, will have accomplished more than any President since Johnson.
Because I’m aware the federal government has infinite money, and federal spending does not cause inflations, I lean more liberal than conservative. It will require a Democratic Congress and President to give us Medicare for All, Social Security for All, College for All, and the end of hunger in America. The Republicans won’t do it.
Before I became a permanent resident of Florida last year, I was a Cubs, Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks fan, but now care nothing for any of them. I still am a fan of Andy Pafko, however, though he stopped playing many, many years ago.
All of this came to mind what a friend told me she was an ardent Republican.
I asked why, and a puzzled look crossed her face. She hadn’t thought about why. Her family had voted Republican for ages.
Again, I asked why, and she had no idea, but said she probably would vote Republican, again.
I was a Cubs fan though the Cubs never did anything for me. So why was I a fan? Because I was a Chicagoan? Sure, but they were terrible, with Andy and without him. What made me scream with delight when they infrequently won, and why was I so blue all those times they lost. How did their wins and losses affect my life?
Looked at objectively, the Cubs were a terrible team, unworthy of anyone’s adulation. Looked at objectively, the Republicans are an awful party, which does absolutely nothing for the vast majority of Americans. It clearly is the party of the rich, along with being the more immoral and dishonest of the two major parties. Their unwavering support for an obvious traitor is disgusting.
And Donald Trump, who unquestionably is the least honest, least intelligent, least patriotic, most dangerous-to-America of any past President, received over 70 million votes, mostly from people who “always vote Republican.”
There is no logic, but there is a reason: We are programmed to root. We root for our home state and city, our school, our sports teams, our friends and relatives, our company, and our favorite celebrity. But why?
Do other animals root?
Perhaps, as we’re social animals, we gain an evolutionary advantage if a member of our group wins in some way.
Could it be that if you consider yourself a Republican, you sense you have an evolutionary advantage if a Republican wins? That somehow, this strengthens your group, and this makes you safer?
It still begs the question, “Why do you consider yourself a Republican. What has the GOP done for you or those you care about?”
Consider the case of Herschel Walker. He received about half the votes. Half the votes! Do all those people really believe he would have been the better choice for Senator? Do they really want him to be their leader or representative?
We tend to vote for those who are like us. Whites tend to vote for whites; blacks tend to vote for blacks, Hispanic for Hispanics, Jews for Jews, men for men. The list goes on. But Herschel Walker is an immoral, brain-dead, nincompoop, who can’t put together two meaningful sentences.
Does that mean half the voters in Georgia are immoral, brain-dead nincompoops, who can’t put together two meaningful sentences? In what universe does even one intelligent person vote for Herschel Walker to represent the interests of Georgian people?
H. L. Mencken wrote:
“No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have searched the records for years and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.
“Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby. The mistake that is made always runs the other way. Because the plain people are able to speak and understand, and even, in many cases, to read and write, it is assumed that they have ideas in their heads, and an appetite for more. This assumption is a folly.”
Mencken surely was talking about Donald Trump / Herschel Walker / Greene GOP voters. Right?
I suspect Mencken was wrong. It’s not lack of intelligence; it’s some other force. Plenty of intelligent people vote for Republicans.
I suspect there are several reasons for illogical voting:
- You wish for acceptance. If you have one group where you have friends and relatives, you will drift to that group.
- Changing groups is hard. Once you have committed to a group, staying with that group takes no effort. It is comfortable. Changing groups requires effort plus the admission you were wrong.
- Changing groups requires you to be an alien, which is uncomfortable.
- Your status has changed. Perhaps circumstance has made you poorer, but you hate to admit it. So, you stay with your former group. It would be like quitting your country club because you lost money, and no longer can afford the dues.
- You aspire to be in a group, so you do the things the group does. You so want to be rich you join a group you can’t afford, so you can be among the rich.
- You aren’t actually voting for anyone. You are casting “against” votes, the lesser of two evils.
The sad lesson for both political parties is to put forth candidates whom the voters wish to emulate, not necessarily candidates who will do the better job.
A classic example for the Democrats would be Jack Kennedy, a relatively inexperienced politician who people wished to copy. He was a mediocre President, but he lived an attractive lifestyle. He was loved for his charisma.
Donald Trump seems charismatic to his base, though now that he has proved himself to be a repeated loser, whiner, and criminal, that sheen may be dulling.
It would be a blessing for America if we could prove Mencken wrong, but we are far from there. The votes cast for the likes of Herschel Walker, Marjorie Taylor Greene,, Jim Jordan, and indeed the majority of the Republican Party, leave me doubtful about future voter intelligence and sanity.
And if this post makes you angry, you have proved my point.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
The Sole Purpose of Government Is to Improve and Protect the Lives of the People.
8 thoughts on “Why you vote the way you do.”
Boy! What a great post Roger! I might take just a slightly easier critique of the presidents, not because what you said about them was necessarily wrong, but because most of them probably did what they did because they (mistakenly) actually believed they were doing the better thing…Nixon and Trump excluded though because what they actually deserve(d) was to be trotted out in public and have their felonius asses kicked unmercifully before being perp walked to a cold and lonely cell.
Hey, I’m even a long suffering Cubs and Bear Fan. I come from Polo, Ill. 🙂
Tribal and partisan allegiance is probably the last mental vestige of the mindset of our hunting and gathering ancestors. But you and I have seen beyond it. Must have been something in the water back there in northern Illinois! And I’m still hopeful that I can find someone whose self interests will jive with your monetary sovereignty truth and my monetary paradigm changing policy program. To wit, I just posted this to Andrew Yang’s podcast where he and a lady from ASU who is a staff member of The Center For An Independent and Sustainable Democracy were talking about the problems of making a third party viable:
All good insights in this video, but ultimately the best way for a third party to break through is for it to come up with a beneficial policy program that is truly a thirdness greater oneness of the dearest desires and self interests of the opposing constituencies in the two major parties. And the good news is your campaign in 2020 conceptually aligns with the program that will accomplish that in spades. You can even re-use the “Do the math” slogan again, except this time its a paradigm changing math instead of just a good slogan for a reform.
If I may be so bold, I DO know what I’m talking about. I’ve been a student of all of the leading reform movements since the shite hit the fan in 2008. This includes yourself/UBI, Steve Keen, Michael Hudson, Warren Mosler/MMT and Ellen Brown/Public Banking. You all have good policy ideas, you’re all pointing at the real problem and you’ve all got it surrounded. Now all you need to do is analyze on the operant concept/paradigmatic level and with our wonderful technology we won’t have to wander in the wilderness for a hundred years to get it done. All we’ll need to do is communicate the incredible and universal benefits of a genuine paradigm change…as the policy program of a third party.
Reforms are wonderful, but paradigm changes are the most integrative, most progressive and most problem solving phenomenon humanity ever experiences. Its an applied idea that changes the character of an entire pattern. Examples are when nomadic hunting and gathering was replaced with agriculture, homesteading and urbanization, or geo-centrism with helio-centrism. And here’s the secret Andrew, so far as I can discern…I’m the only person on the planet that is consciously analyzing on the specific paradigmatic level. I’ve got an entire paradigmatic policy program…and a single policy that because it is the very expression of the new paradigm concept itself immediately doubles everyone’s purchasing power, hence potentially doubles demand for every enterprise’s goods and services and yet resigns the biggest economic bugaboo of the day, namely inflation, to the dust bin of history.
I would love to discuss all of this with you and/or your staff.
I’m also going to put together a presentation to Jackie Salit who is the person on staff at the organization. Wish me luck.
The GOP now tosses out members who have the courage to tell the truth but promotes mental midgets like Marjorie Taylor Greene. The party has drifted downward for six years and shows no signs of sanity.
I pretty much agree with your descriptions of our presidents since FDR. Unfortunately, this tendency to “look up” to our so-called leaders comes from learned reflexes acquired in childhood. We learn to respectfully look up to our parents, teachers , etc., a subconscious thing that remains rooted for life. Politicians become our televised Big Parents. We keep looking to them for answers.
Then there’s Spineless Marjorie Taylor Greene. Anyone can say, after the fact, that they’d of done things this way or that. When you’ve got guts, you lay out your plan before the ship sails. The GOP is scared of losing Trump’s supporters, so they duck and hide from media. But in an MS world freed of financial ruin I bet they’d grow a spine! Unfortunately that’s not now the case.
I’ve always been a democrat partly because my parents were. They liked Ike’s hero image and voted for him. I vote Democrat now because , despite shortcomings, they’re still the party of the people. The GOP is the party of money and status; and if you don’t have either, you can still feel good and fool yourself trying to identify with them while they laugh behind your back.
Finally, I don’t see any immediate way out of this mess. As long as nuclear missles remain in silos + the have/have not gap + the CO2 problem … we’re in mortal danger. The power structure won’t yield unless everything is about to go to hell and by then it may be too late. Unlike everyone in history before us, we’re uniquely about to experience our final exam. This world will have to earn guaranteed success. That’s our final test , pass/fail.
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Look to Cognitive Linguistics for your answer Rodger. Check out George Lakoff. He taught me everything I know about the subject, like you did for me re: Monetary Sovereignty. https://george-lakoff.com/
What is RMM’s understanding of how the crap job guarantee full employment cult came into existence? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_Employment_in_a_Free_Society#Reception
Was that Randall Wray fella from a well off family because his idealized view of work schemes doesn’t match up with what I remember old folks in my own extended family had to say about years spent in the WPA or CCC?
Randy is a smart man who has a limited view of reality. If you disagree with him, as I once did, you may get an expletive-laden response — as I once did. The jobs guarantee is an example of his limited view that humans are pegs to be placed in holes. I have written about it many times. See: https://mythfighter.com/2021/10/30/mmts-divorce-from-reality-jobs-guarantee-and-inflation-fear/
They say it [MMT] is nothing more than a description of the post-1971 reality, but then in next breath unload a whole slough of policy stuff like their job guarantee thing that hasn’t ever been tested in reality anywhere.
To some extent I think the straight and narrowly focused ‘Mosler Economics’ of the mid-’90’s was hijacked by that verbose flake Bill Mitchell in Australia and his horde of groupies who added all of this other crap and now shout out anyone who isn’t in step with them. That is who is to be thanked for the poorly thought out semantics of the word ‘theory’. They forced the use of the acronym mmt so it could also stand for “magic money tree” the idea of which is really going to go over well in Des Moines or DC when trying to explain anything to a new audience.
Ever get the feeling that the other side wants to do away with voting? https://twitter.com/Channel62News/status/1238198353722310658/photo/1