Monday, November 10, 2008

Why Some Of Us Voted Against Our Own Self-Interest

Growing up in the 1950s, I was aware of a group of adults who were known as “The Country Club Set.” For the most part they were college educated, working at very high paying jobs, and they always voted Republican. They were the opposite of the poor blue-collar working class, and while my father toiled within this latter group and never belonged to a country club, he nevertheless always identified with the upper strata of society, probably because he was very intelligent. Intelligence seemed to be another quality of the Country Club Set, at least to the uninformed mind of a child in the 1950s, and for that reason I wanted to grow up and be a member of that group. Last Tuesday, the Country Club Set did an amazing thing. They voted for a man who will deliberately raise their taxes, probably by quite a lot. Understanding why these people voted against their own financial self-interest by switching their vote from Republican to Democrat is the key to understanding why the Republicans are in deep trouble.

Now that the election is over, the media pundits have been unusually candid and free in using the word, “incompetent,” to describe the Bush administration, although they are still reticent to use the other appropriate adjective, “stupid.” Whether or not the Country Club Set is truly intelligent I can’t say, but I do know that they understood at some gut level that the Bush incompetence was directly caused by his fundamental personal stupidity. I can say this since I’m not an official pundit, and speaking for myself, I can also say that it would be difficult to overstate the sheer dreariness and embarrassment of living for eight years in a nation governed by a globally-recognized fool. I don’t speak for the Country Club Set, but I myself finally came to the point when I wanted smart, intelligent governance more than I wanted governance which would be financially advantageous to me. The other alternative was to pick up and move to the Cayman Islands.

This discussion about intelligence leads back to the Republican Party. In the GOP, the Country Club Set was, until the last election, one of the two fundamental “base” groups that could always be counted on to pull the “R” lever. The other GOP base group has always consisted of those who are content to let James Dobson define the Word of God for them, and let Rush Limbaugh explain the Constitution as well as everything else. It was this latter group that was appeased by the pick of Sarah Palin, and was made to feel especially comfortable with the realization that she could never make them seem intellectually inferior. She was, after all, one of them, and it was good riddance to those intellectuals who were driven away by just her wink and a smile. The Republicans are now openly predicting that Palin will be a major force in their party in 2012, and this sends the message that the GOP is casting their lot with the dittoheads who tune in the EIB on radio stations down there below the Mason Dixon Line. I just can’t see this having much appeal for the rest of us, especially after we have four years to see a glow of grace and intellect in the White House.

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