Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Weird Ways People Decide to Support their Candidates

For a rational person, nothing is more frustrating than listening to ordinary voters explain their political preferences. What isn’t flip, emotional nonsense – e.g., “he’s on my side” – is usually wrong.

Jamelle Bouie undertook the grim task of trying to find out why young, liberal voters dislike Hillary so much. Oy:
“I think a lot of us are starting to realize that Hillary is just part of the establishment,” said Kate, another student from the same group, whose only hesitation on Sanders was his ability to deliver on his promises.

Another group of students—who had come out of curiosity—sounded a similar note. “I get the impression from Hillary that as soon as she gets in office … she wouldn’t be an effective president,” said Michael Hathaway, “and if she was effective, it wouldn’t be for me, it would be for her banker friends who were giving her millions of dollars.”

Sitting next to Michael was Lexis, who had less to say about Clinton’s ties to Wall Street, and more to say about her campaign appeals. “I have a very large problem with the fact that a very large part of her campaign is riding on the fact that she’s a woman, and expects people like me—women—to vote for her,” she said. She continued: “All I have heard so far is ‘I’m a woman vote for me, because we need a woman president.’ We’ll have plenty of time in the future for women to run, for qualified, worthy women to run. We need to get over this concept of immediate gratification that’s driving this campaign.”
Well, yes, Hillary is part of the establishment. So is Bernie Sanders; if being in the Senate doesn’t put you in the establishment, what does? And why does that matter? Sanders’ hero, Franklin Roosevelt, was about as establishment as it is possible for an American to be. Many, many people seem to think that we should choose our leaders according to who they are; but that doesn’t matter nearly as much as what kind of policies they want to pursue.

Effectiveness is a bizarre reason to vote against Hillary, who probably knows how to get things done in Washington better than any other candidate. Way better than Bernie, anyway. And again we have “she is friends with bankers” instead of reading her plans to regulate Wall Street and trying to understand whether they are better or worse than Bernie’s. You can’t just see that somebody has friends on Wall Street and assume that means she will work for their interests. The single most anti-Wall Street person I know, a guy who says at least once a day that everyone on Wall Street should be shot, works for one of the biggest American investment firms.

And then the final insult, “I’m a woman vote for me.” If that’s all this young woman has heard, she hasn’t listened much. Hillary has a very extensive political record, a well-known philosophy of governing, and a long list of detailed policy plans. Some of which I like and some of which I dislike, but it is just silly to say that she is running on her gender alone.

My eldest son just wandered through and offered this explanation of why young Democrats prefer Sanders:
Because it’s a meme.
I don’t mean to pick on young Sanders voters; as I said, this seems to be true of many if not most citizens of democracies. But reading interviews like these never fails to bring me down.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

- Isaac Asimov, 1980