There were two back-to-back entries on my Facebook page this morning. The first was from comedian and political commentator John Fugelsang.
“Mitt Romney is running on one thing. He’s running on trying to do the exact same thing that Bush did and call it something different. And for anyone who is not a millionaire to still vote GOP, they’re a damn sucker. Because no Republican president has balanced a budget since Nixon and none has had a surplus since Eisenhower. There is no reason to trust your money with these folks anymore, because all they are good at is two things – a redistribution of wealth to the top 2 percent and making conservative Americans think that’s a good thing.”
The second, from the Detroit Press is a statement from a woman sitting in a Range Rover outside one of the pricy fundraisers held for Mitt Romney in the Hamptons this past weekend. She told a reporter that Romney needed to do a better job connecting. “I don’t think the common person is getting it. Nobody understands why Obama is hurting them.
“‘We’ve got the message,’ she added. ‘But my college kid, the baby sitters, the nails (sic) ladies — everybody who’s got the right to vote — they don’t understand what’s going on. I just think if you’re lower income — one, you’re not as educated, two, they don’t understand how it works, they don’t understand how the systems work, they don’t understand the impact.'”
Wow. And here we liberals have spent years obsessing over our inability to reach people who “vote against their own self interests” only to find that Republicans are flummoxed by the same thing. We have long assumed that uninformed voters fail to recognize that it is the left that votes for the greater good while conservatives vote only to further their own selfish goals. Now it appears that Republicans hold a mirror image of their and our political actions.
This is hard to take. It was easier to condemn them when we thought they were acting totally out of selfishness and greed. Now we have to realize that all of their actions over the last 30 years – buying up and running whole media empires, destroying the public education system, sending thousands of lobbyists to the halls of state and federal legislative bodies and thousands of young people to die in stupid wars – were done solely in pursuit of truth, justice, and the American way.
Perception is everything and right and left obviously share a common one; that it is incumbent upon those of us who “get it” to help those who don’t to “understand how it works.”
Maybe the problem is not with those who fail to vote their self interests but rather with those who would determine what those self interests are.
Liberals usually fall back on the guns, gays, and God theory of self interest; that Republicans have convinced too many to vote their social and religious beliefs rather than their economic interests. Republicans counter that those who vote for the left are forgoing self-determination, abdicating personal responsibility, and abandoning traditional values in return for (to clean up their language a bit) a free lunch.
But isn’t self-interest also self-determined? If someone believes their best interests are served by voting against Choice instead of in favor of a higher minimum wage or by picking a candidate who favors stricter gun control even though he will vote for higher taxes, aren’t they by definition voting their own self interests? Perhaps the rest of us are tangling up our own beliefs, concerns, and needs – our own self interest – with those of others.
There is, however, one glaring difference between the viewpoints on my Facebook page. Fugelsang is expressing dismay and frustration over the choices people make when they vote but the lady in the Range Rover is financially supporting a party trying its hardest to keep them from doing so. That is the point liberals should be making; voting is a self-interest everyone can understand.