Why do so many blue collar workers vote Republican against their own economic interest
This is a complicated question about which many books have been written and many opinions offered. Here is my take.
Assuming we are having a conversation only about economic influences on voters, not about social wedge issues which would motivate a person to vote republican then the simple answer in my opinion is that fear motivates more then optimism. The “fear” of losing what you already have is easier to relate to and coallece around then the idea of “optimism” to make things better which is more abstract and not yet tangible. So it is always easier for a party to push the idea that everything is alright and that change is scary then it is to be the party that is saying everything is not so good and we need to change. Put another way “Fear of the unknown is worse then fear of what you know”
In the business world this is known as “Better the asshole you know then the one you dont”
So, what does this mean when it comes to voting based on a persons party and economic standing?
To understnad what it means you have to first understand this peculiar moment in our nations history and time seems to have been created, nurtured and prolonged by the single happening of Sept 11th, 2001 which might be one day looked at as a turning point in American politics, doctrine and economics.
The genius of the Republican party political strategy in the post 2001 world demonstrated during the 2004 elections and now again has been to totally obfuscate the concept of change and made it into the idea that change is unpatriotic and anything connected to change is potentially harmful to losing what you already have or one day might have.
Then they have wrapped this idea that “change” is bad around the concept of “taxes” which is the most maddening part of it if you are a Democrat.
If we all agree that we live in a democracy and a society then it stands to reason that creating the basic services to run that democracy and society require funds that are culled from taxes on the citizens. In fact, taxes could even be viewed as patriotic. When the word is stripped of its current all negative contexts you could think of taxes as giving back to your country for the betterment of others who need help as well as for a strong nation and generations yet to come.
The question of contention that so sharply defines the parties then becomes who pays what and how it is spent.
The rub is that the republicans basic economic platform is based on top down trickle down economics that tax the rich of greater means and corporations at a lesser rate.
This then leads over time to reduced tax revenue with which government funds social services programs that help the people of lesser means.
If it is agreed that a Blue collar worker would fit in the “lesser means” category then the question remains “why would a blue collar worker barely making a living wage vote republican against their own economic self interests as defined by more social services to help them?”
I believe the answer to this stripped down question is based in the very root of the American Dream and then ingeniously turned on its ear by Republican strategists in the nationalistic and insular world of post 2001 american politics.
It goes somethig like this:
If the American Dream is that everyone can make it rich and be successful financially and this is repeated often enough then people start to believe it and dont therefore support taxes on the rich as they themselves expect to one day be rich.
The irony is that whether you agree or disagree with the American Dream as previously defined you cannot argue that in todays world that “dream” is harder then ever to attain and the data in fact shows the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer while most of the middle class runs in place trying to keep up and usually falling behind.
Therefore when a blue collar worker votes Republican they are in fact voting against their best economic self interest while in their mind they are being “patriotic” and perpetuating the “American Dream” when if fact they are not.