Caring About Others — Not Voting Your Interests

Tea Time - Caring About Others -- Not Voting Your InterestsI had tea with my cousin on Friday. She knows that I’m a freelance writer and editor and asked about the harm that the repeal of Obamacare might cause me. It’s not so much a question of money. I have a major pre-existing condition, and depending upon exactly what the Republicans do, I might not be able to get insurance at all. So it is natural that someone who cares about me would be concerned about this.

I explained that if that happened, I would just join the Freelancers Union. What’s more, the original Republican plan would actually have helped me. Typical of Republican plans, since I don’t really need help from the government, the conservatives wanted to give me more help. Meanwhile, my desperately poor friend with three children might see his Medicaid taken away from his kids.

Don’t “Vote Your Interests

This all brings up the idea of “voting your interests.” Although I do bristle at people who vote against every interest they have except (for example) same-sex marriage, I do not think people should simply vote their interests. People should vote in such a way that they think will create the best society. So I really don’t have a problem with people voting only based on their anti-choice opinions if they actually think that abortion is equivalent to the Holocaust.

(Note however: I am quite certain that these people who are so upset about abortion are just being manipulated. Rich conservatives figured out a way that they could get poor people to vote for them by getting them to think of nothing but abortion. And these people have no moral standing when they vote against abortion choice but for policies that literally allow children to starve to death. So being against the Nazi death camps is admirable, but not if your position that the Jews should instead be left on a desert island where they will starve to death. And this really is equivalent to the thinking of the the people in the American anti-choice movement.)

Most People Vote for the Good of All

I’m not unusual at all in not voting for my own, narrowly defined, interests. This is what liberals do. If there is one thing that I think defines a liberal it is having a strong sense of empathy. Certainly I want to have good, affordable health insurance. But I think of it in a broad sense. Right now, the government pays me $200 per month toward my health insurance. I’m more than able to pay the remaining $200 per month for my health insurance.

The Republican plan would have paid me something like $300 per month toward my insurance. This is because the plan gave everyone the same amount of money toward their health insurance. Really, the Republicans would like to give nothing at all. So their giving everyone the same amount was their way of trying to, as Brian Beutler put it it, “obscure the brutality of that underlying moral vision.”

But I don’t think that it’s fair that someone gets paid more money when they don’t need it — even when that person is me. And that’s the difference between conservatives and liberals. Politics isn’t a game. It isn’t just about winning. I’m interested in make a fair society. So I am fine with getting fewer benefits from the government and paying more in taxes when I’m one of society’s winners.

The Selfish Side of Caring

Of course, there is a selfish side of doing this. A fair society is also a more stable society. I’m hardly rich. But I have a good life and thus have much more to lose if society were to fall apart.So paying more in taxes and so on is a kind of insurance. Of course, that isn’t the way I think about it.

I want to live in a society that is fair. And I’m well well aware of the advantages that I have been given by this society. I might not have won the jackpot in life’s lottery, but I won one of the top prizes. Being born a straight, white, and male in this society might not be worth quite what it was for my father’s generation, but it’s still worth a lot. And my intelligence and temperament are both great gifts. So is being born in the United States — in California, no less.

But it seems the conservative mind sees things the opposite. Just as they think that I should get more money for my healthcare since I need it less, they think I should get more of everything else because I’ve been so lucky in life.

Why Republicans Are Evil

Piles of Cash - Republicans Are EvilI’m not naive, though. I know that all their justifications are just lies. They claim that the rich should be given more money because they are “job creators,” but really they think the rich should be given more money because they simply believe in classes. The rich are better than the poor and therefore should be given more money. It really is as simple as that.

The problem with this is that there aren’t that many people who have a huge amount of money. So the Republican Party has had to figured out how to convince people to think that small issues are really important. So killing a 16-cell zygote is far more important than making sure that all grammar school children are properly fed. Stopping a tiny number of transvestite men in a country of 300 million people from using the women’s bathroom is far more important than billionaires paying less in taxes than their secretaries.

As liberals, our job should be to allow people to see their priorities clearly. And I’m afraid that we fail when it comes to this.

Voting for All the Wrong Reasons

I personally think that reproductive choice is a very important issue. It really is the difference between freedom and a limited kind of slavery. But we should understand that abortion is an important issue for some people. So we should make these people understand that if caring for the unborn child is very important, caring for born children is just as important. And that it is goes against everything they stand for to vote for a party that is against abortion choice but also wants to deprive children of food.

What’s more, caring about unborn children should mean more than just passing a law. Do we care enough for that unborn child to care for prenatal healthcare? For making sure that the mother is taken care of while she is pregnant? That she will have the freedom (real freedom, not the face libertarian “freedom”) to care for that child at least until it enters school.

The Republicans use liberal notions to get people to vote for their conservative agenda of taking money away from poor children and giving it to the rich. As liberals, we shouldn’t allow that. The truth is that if you talk to people who vote because of abortion or homosexuality, you’ll find their solution to the “problems” are fairly liberal. But the party they vote for has no solutions at all — much less liberal solutions.

The Republicans Will Only Bring Destruction

We need to ask these conservative voters what it is they expect from the party they vote for. The Republicans offer them passing a couple of laws. And that’s because the only thing they are interested in is giving money to the rich. The rest of it is just a con.

If women know they can raise their children in a stable environment, they will be more likely to do it. But the Republicans want to create the opposite. They want to make it illegal to have abortions so that we will have far more poor, malnourished children. They want to make unions illegal so that both parents will need to work in order to make ends meet.

I want a better society — not just for myself but for everyone. And I think most people are that way. So let’s not vote our interests. Let’s vote for our society’s interest. And that means a society in which one working person can support a family. It means a society where people are educated so they don’t have unwanted pregnancies.

The Better Society Is the Liberal Society

It sounds partisan to say it but the better society that conservatives claim they want is the society that liberal policy would produce. Otherwise, you end up with a society with a small number of super rich people, and then a bunch of poor people with malnourished children. Because regardless of what Republicans say, their policies lead to Oliver Twist. Liberal policy is the only kind that will lead to the society of mercy that Jesus preached.

Republicans ask not what they can do for their country but what their county can do for them. And there are very few Americans who want to live in this society. Americans want to live in a society where we all look out for each other. And that is a liberal society.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

2 thoughts on “Caring About Others — Not Voting Your Interests

  1. And – in a democratic republic – the corollary is quite simple: you can have democracy, or you can have financial and social inequality.

    But you can’t have both.

    A society that is truly, deeply, massively unequal – a tiny wealthy minority atop a large, struggling-to-genuinely-impoverished majority – will, inevitably, become a plutocracy or oligarchy as those with the wealth use it as wealth has always been used; to gain more political influence and, thus, political power.

    So for a liberal republican the choice is even simpler; do I want my country, my society, to be in the hands of more people, or less? Do I believe that a wealthy oligarchy will be better at ruling for the polity as a whole? Or worse.

    Given how I’ve framed this my answer is obvious. But the GOP seems to have decided the opposite, and now here we are.

  2. You mean ‘liberal republican’ or ‘liberal Republican’? If there still is a liberal wing in that party, they are now thin on the ground with zero influence; that sort of politician is now in the Democratic Party.

    As to the OP, I really can’t disagree with anything there but I need to say that if people generally voted their interests a) the Republicans would be wiped out in general elections, and b) the candidates coming out of Democratic primaries would be very different, far more egalitarian.

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