Orlando Delogu’s recent column, “Maine Dems share blame for a long, cold winter,” succinctly posits the argument of many: Why do large numbers of people vote against their own self-interest? This has been a perennial question amongst pundits for decades and today it remains unanswerable. Is it from lack of education? From disinterest in politics? From being “dumbed down”? From being conditioned that voters have little power to change the system? From sophisticated perception management by political parties and media? From short-sightedness and short-term thinking? From narrow conformity produced by “identity politics”? Add your own theory to the list.
A corollary question is: Why can’t people see the connection between alterations in their nation, society and lifestyle to how they voted?
With so much at stake in America today – war/peace, recovery/depression, racism, militarized police, limits on free-speech, a politically controlled corporate news media, dragnet surveillance, the widening gap between rich and poor and a forthcoming GOP-controlled Congress with a president taking orders from State Department neocons and the military-industrial complex – I would wager the “self-interest” of a majority of Mainers and Americans is not the same self-interest as mine or of Orlando Delogu.
The most bittersweet answer to why large numbers of people vote against their own self-interest might be they did vote in their own self-interest, after all. Accepting that fact is called “political realism,” even when such a reality is a nightmare to behold.
Michael T. Bucci