How is it that in a modern democracy, political movements which are explicitly built on funneling vast quantities of money to the poor are so wildly unpopular among the poor?
Like so many other situations in politics, the modern leftist finds themselves in the uncomfortable situation of proclaiming that societal woe is the net result of Rational Self Interest, and, simultaneously, that people behave against their Rational Self Interest. Let’s dig into that.
First off, if you were to ask a leftist why a wealthy person votes for a republican, the answer is almost a tautology (even though the real voting preferences of wealthy people in America is reasonably split). Rich people, leftists say, vote for political parties which enrich their class, it is the Marxist corruption of all political analysis that convinces even the most benign leftist to paint such broad strokes on human behavior and motivations (almost as though the theory were over 150 years old). Marx says to read the tea leaves of fictional labor value and vague collective material interest and say yes, they vote in lock-step with their rational self interest. The party of the capitalist class votes for capitalists, politics really can be a science after all.
On the flip side, if you ask that same leftist why it is that republican support in poor, rural counties has been (and so remains since around 2000) extraordinarily high, they say well, such people are obviously not behaving in their rationale self interest. Reasons will abound from the Stupid Sheep theory, the Secret/No-So-Secret Racist theory, to some lazy corollary of the above which strings together religion (the opiate of the poor, stupid masses) and nationalism (the opiate of the poor, bored masses).
For the leftist, the reason people don’t vote their way is because they are some combination of ignorant and stupid. For the conservative, the reason is probably the same (or, if you are a particularly lazy conservative, you claim its a vast conspiracy but that’s an aside). Is it any surprise to the readers here that America has become more politically polarized as a result?
For the liberal, do they really believe that the working poor are smart enough to collectively manage vast enterprises (through democratic socialism, no doubt) but then simultaneously be 1: stupid enough to fail to use the same democratic instruments to fight for their economic self interest and 2: be hood-winked into some vast white-nationalist conspiracy instead? The argument line is absurd, yet social democrats and those further left make up something like 25-30% of the democratic parties voter count. It’s a big problem (if you assume the country is roughly 50/50 D/R, then we are looking at 12.5%-15% of the voting population).
Finding logical inconsistencies more extreme political ideology is easy and, it’s worth mentioning, not every liberal is a Bernie Sanders’ liberal either; but these anti-capitalist arguments are a growing part of the Democratic party and they are infecting the leftwing and rightwing landscape of America. These same illogical contradictions (working poor people are being screwed! working poor people are our political salvation! working poor people are complete idiots! See a problem?) are relabeled, then peddled wholesale into the cesspit of economic nationalism by making a simple substitution and say that working poor people are not idiots, they are being misled by the politically-correct, powerhungry liberals (now take a look at all these news articles about people getting fired you don’t care about but seem to prove the argument). The leftist response to that? Repeat the same line that’s been used since the capitalist critique of Marx in the 1800s, it’s all about the billionaire class friends, that, and (paradoxically…) rational self interest.
So why aren’t the poor more liberal? It’s not because they are stupid sheep, or because they are stupid in general, or necessarily because they are racist or even nationalist. No, the reason poor people aren’t more liberal is because political party coalitions are becoming less ideological and more regional. Voting behavior is so delayed with real world action (thank you founding fathers) that preferences can easily be attributed to any fake or real ‘philosophy’. If liberals wanted to win over rural, uneducated poor people, they’d give up trying to lecture them to become better people (learn to be tolerant, educate yourself, become an active citizen…).
Alt-right has a massive advantage over liberals when speaking to the white poor because the peddle a fiction which requires no additional explanation, you are important and good because you are American and because you are white. These are things no one can take away from you, and for a poor person living an existence only made palatable by drugs or cheeseburgers, that’s enough to get a vote and maybe something else.
Maybe liberals should take a page from the conservative handbook and reposition for once.
BONUS: Why (lazy) liberal theories on voter behaviors are wrong
Misled Sheep Theory, Media Variant: First off, cable packages provide multiple channels. The idea that a poor person getting access to Fox news, ABC, NBC, and potentially CNN/MSNBC all at once and then getting ‘hopelessly corrupted’ by Fox news is absurd. People watch what they want to watch, if leftists want to blame Fox news for turning the United States into a capitalist hell prison state, they should just copy the business model and see how that goes. Once they realize that it’s already been attempted, they can engage in the thought of experiment of why MSNBC is only watched by wealthy white liberals (hint: maybe the 150+ year old world view needs a change).
Stupid People: If true then we need to reconcile some inherent fringe cases. Wealthy people, those very same capitalist pigs who vote republican, usually have higher educations and find themselves very much at home with the ranks of the devil. On the flip side, the dumb, penny-less masses vote both democrat and republican more heavily correlated with urban/rural split. So, to reconcile we need to say that dumb blacks urban Georgia (vote heavily D) are therefore somehow ‘smarter’ and more ‘class conscious’ than dumb whites in rural Georgia (vote heavily R). We can just link a paper and be done.
“Results. We find no clear relation between income inequality and class-based voting.”
Racist Voters Theory: In order for liberal world views to justify illogical behavior, they have to lie to themselves that the reason they keep losing is because of racism (something which is impossible to get rid of, so it’s a convenient scapegoat). Democrats are the party of racial inclusion and therefore racist rural whites vote against it. If you equate rural with racist, then you can patch the world view up, except it really only works in modern (year 2000+) history. Let’s ignore that Lyndon Johnson election and those inconvenient 1990s votes (1992 and 1996 saw a reasonable split in rural vote, 2000 and thereafter has more extreme splits, https://www.nonprofitvote.org/documents/2010/11/rural-voters-in-presidential-elections-1992-2004.pdf/).