Instead of following my heart tonight and writing about the colossally fucked-up narcissist John Edwards, I’ve decided to share a link to a BBC piece about why we Americans so often vote against our own best interests. (I love watching the relatively level-headed Brits trying to understand the Tea Partification of their former colonies.) The best part of the article is the contribution by Thomas Frank, the author of What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. Here’s a highlight:
….Right-wing politics has become a vehicle for channelling this popular anger against intellectual snobs. The result is that many of America’s poorest citizens have a deep emotional attachment to a party that serves the interests of its richest.
Thomas Frank says that whatever disadvantaged Americans think they are voting for, they get something quite different:
“You vote to strike a blow against elitism and you receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our life times, workers have been stripped of power, and CEOs are rewarded in a manner that is beyond imagining… It’s like a French Revolution in reverse in which the workers come pouring down the street screaming more power to the aristocracy.”
As Mr Frank sees it, authenticity has replaced economics as the driving force of modern politics. The authentic politicians are the ones who sound like they are speaking from the gut, not the cerebral cortex. Of course, they might be faking it, but it is no joke to say that in contemporary politics, if you can fake sincerity, you have got it made.
And here, according to the author of the article, is the big takeaway message from all of this… “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. As the saying goes, in politics, when you are explaining, you are losing. And that makes anything as complex or as messy as healthcare reform a very hard sell.”
So, I guess, with that in mind, the next time we Democrats select a candidate, we should look for some affable, moderately attractive, football-loving, beer-drinking regular guy who can speak vaguely about good and evil, the importance of family, and how we Americans are the best people God ever put upon the face of the earth, without ever proposing legislation to address the serious structural problems that our country is facing, or, for that matter, even letting us know that such issues exist. (And it probably wouldn’t hurt if he was white.) Because, as we know, Americans don’t want to be told such things. Or, here’s another thought. It might take a little longer, but we could instead focus on educating our population so they’re not such a mouth-breathing mass of gibberish-spouting morons, throwing around words like Socialist, Communist and Fascist as though they’re interchangeable, and raving about “death panels.” Seriously, the only way to change the course we’re on is to focus on education. The Republicans are brilliant in that respect. By defunding public schools, and fighting for voucher programs so that kids can attend religious schools, where they can be taught that men rode around on dinosaurs 6,000 years ago, they’re creating a nation of easily exploitable morons. It not only makes the public less able to think critically, though. It also makes the teachers’ union, one of their most significant adversaries, considerably weaker… We need to start thinking strategically too.
I thought that I’d be less depressed if I wrote about this, instead of John Edwards, but I was wrong.
Good night, my invisible friends.