Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Voting With Your Heart"

I don’t know if I’ve written this before. I know I’ve said it. And people seem to know what I’m talking about.

The best thing Democrats have going for them are the Republicans.

Controlling the presidency and both houses of Congress, the Democratic faithful are nursing a simmering sense of disappointment. Our troops still aren’t home, “health care for everybody” capitulated into “health care for more people than used to have health care”, the president’s economic advisers seem suspiciously not that different from the crowd that created this catastrophe in the first place.

And the president, effective on the campaign trail, seems disturbingly less effective in office.

So say the Democrats. The representatives they worked so hard to get elected have seriously let them down. The problem for them is, there is no alternative called, “I’ll vote for the other Democrats.”

There are no other Democrats. These are the only Democrats we’ve got.

What then is the only available alternative in a two-party system?

Yeah, well, we can’t do that.

Let me turn this around for a second. The same way Democrats would gag at voting for a Republican, that gag reflex functions the same way in the other direction. Republicans could never vote for a Democrat. Even when their best interests strongly indicate that they should.

This insistence on voting for the party the evidence suggests is not on your side has been fully documented. In Thomas Frank’s What’s The Matter With Kansas?, Frank concludes that Kansas, despite its historic liberal tradition, now votes Republican, because they can’t stomach the “cultural values” of the Democrats – favoring abortion, gay marriage, evolution, and other things, equally unacceptable.

Frank’s observation receives scientific support from professor of psychology and psychiatry, Drew Westen. In The Political Brain, focusing on the parts of the brain that get stimulated during a political appeal, Westen demonstrates that emotion consistently trumps reason.

When it comes down to whom you vote for, “That just doesn’t seem right” regularly triumphs over “That doesn’t make sense.”

Kansans voting Republican doesn’t make sense. They do so, because what Democrats stand for just doesn’t seem right.

The question is, what can Democrats promote emotionally, to get Kansans, and voters like Kansans, back on their team?

Well, let’s see.

A lot of jobs are being outsourced. Outsourcing is a business strategy to maximize profits. The “Party of Business” is the Republicans.

Do you really want to vote for the party that’s outsourcing your jobs?

That’s emotional, isn’t it?

Okay, what else?

Minimal regulation on Wall Street, in offshore drilling, and in the poultry industry has brought us near economic collapse, a massive oil spill, and salmonella in our eggs. The Republicans champion deregulation.

Do you really want to vote for the party that has no interest in what you’re eating for breakfast?

Now we’re cookin’.

One more?

Okay. The health care issue is complicated, but only here. In Canada, where I come from, it’s simple. Everybody pays in, and when you get sick, you get health care. Piece a cake, eh?

Currently in America, people can be denied health coverage because of pre-existing conditions. My daughter was one of them. The Democrats proposed health care reform. The Republicans demonized it.

Do you really want to vote for the party that closes its eyes to the crushing personal cost of getting sick?

These are all emotional issues. And Republicans – and I don’t believe I have misrepresented their positions – Where do they stand on outsourcing? Where do they stand on regulation? Where do they stand on health care? The Republicans are on the wrong side of every issue.

It comes down to this. For the voter, there are only two options – the party that’s dithery, and the party whose core principles favor profit over people.

Churchill said that democracy was the worst form of government, except for all the other ones, the unavoidable implication being that democracy is the second worst form of government.

With only two choices available, the only logical alternative, oops, I mean, the only one that makes sense, wait – I’ve got to control this nasty habit of being reasonable. With only two choices available, the one that clearly feels right – there you go – the choice that really feels right…

Is the second worst one.

I believe we have a winner.


Gia said...

Will you quit with the "profits over people" slam at Republicans? Profits create jobs, which let people feed themselves. And the Democrats love profit, because that means they can tax it and give it to their pals. Maybe that's simplistic, but so are your many of your points. Best place for the poor? The Democrats' socialist paradise. Best place to stop being poor? Any place run by Republicans. Feeding people like tame livestock so that they'll do what you want isn't compassion, it's condescension and an insidious slavery of dependence. Republicans want to help those truly in need -- not because it makes them feel squishy, but because it's the right thing to do, because a rising tide lifts all boats -- but mostly the GOP wants to reduce the number of people truly in need, and making them comfortable in their neediness is not the answer.

Max Clarke said...

Sorry, Earl,

In their essential nature, both parties are the same. Their differences are magnified to create the illusion of deep divisions.

Both major parties were hijacked long ago by the military-industrial complex, and big pharma, and Monsanto and ConAgra and Bechtel, and Wall Street, etc etc blah.

- Both parties now support a permanent war economy.
- Both parties now support through their actions the domestic spying operations which would have been unthinkable long ago.
- Both parties support through their actions an endless war on terror. President Obama now authorizes the assassination of American citizens. He has not left Iraq or Afghanistan, hasn't shut down Gitmo.

Time to quit the pretense and just call them the National Corporate Party, with the Red Conference and the Blue Conference.

Howard Huber said...

Thanks, Earl. That's the best summation of the choices at this moment that I've read. "Dithery" is exactly right and only looks good by comparison.