Turkeys Voting for Christmas
In relation to my post yesterday about Obama/Clinton, the BBC News is running a very interesting article derived from an earlier radio broadcast called "Turkeys Voting for Christmas. '" The broadcast is by Dr. David Runciman, a political scientist, and the question he explores is, "Why do people often vote against their own interests?" This broadcast/article sheds a lot of very helpful light on why having all the facts at their disposal and on their side do not guarantee that things will go in the directions advised by the Obamas and the Clintons of the world, and instead too often amount to actually being a big strike against them.
Here is the answer given by Dr. Runciman in reply to the question he asked:
If people vote against their own interests, it is not because they do not understand what is in their interest or have not yet had it properly explained to them.
They do it because they resent having their interests decided for them by politicians who think they know best.
There is nothing voters hate more than having things explained to them as though they were idiots.And Runciman concludes that Republicans owe their electoral successes to playing upon this anger and thus managing to get the less advantaged segments of the American electorate to vote for a party that is committed not to their interests but instead to just the opposite, namely to give even more advantage to the country's wealthy elite.
This perversity born of resentment is a phenomenon that has already been seen over and over again, not only in today's politics but also in many other kinds of situations through out the ages. The example that first jumps to my mind because it put this dead end behavior in such clear personal focus is the riots that erupted in so many of the cities and towns where there were sizable concentrations of Rainbows, on the day that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, back in April of 1968. In blind rage a certain small segment of my fellow Rainbows, with the approval of a much larger segment as voiced by their silence and their excuses for the rioters, caused heavy damage not to anywhere else but almost exclusively to their own communities, including D.C. where I lived. And afterward -- in contrast to the way that it was almost impossible for me to tell when I went there 14 years after World War 2 that Japan had been so heavily devastated by bombs, much less than that country had ever been in a war -- in these U.S. towns, or at least in D.C., more years than that passed by before all the repairs were finally completed. And meanwhile all that venting of anger had been for what? I called those riots "crapping in one's own bathtub."
In the case of the virulent and unthinking objections to Obama's health care reforms, which is the focus of the article above cited, Runciman quotes another thinker on the matter named Robert Frank who gives a similar metaphor:
"It's like a French Revolution in reverse in which the workers come pouring down the street screaming more power to the aristocracy."
I guess that's what happens in democracies, however. In ancient Athens 2,500 years ago, where democracy was first tried, exactly the same thing happened, and, among many other misdeeds, the good citizens of that supposedly enlightened town condemned their most renowned thinker, Socrates, to die a painful death by his own hand, by drinking a potion brewed with hemlock.
It looks as if large numbers of idiots are always in evidence in any populace, but we are never ever allowed to say so.