Why do people often vote against their own interests?

Synopsis (Via BBC)

The Republicans’ shock victory in the election for the US Senate seat in Massachusetts meant the Democrats lost their supermajority in the Senate. This makes it even harder for the Obama administration to get healthcare reform passed in the US.

Political scientist Dr David Runciman looks at why there is often such deep opposition to reforms that appear to be of obvious benefit to voters.

Additional Excerpts (via BBC)

But it is striking that the people who most dislike the whole idea of healthcare reform – the ones who think it is socialist, godless, a step on the road to a police state – are often the ones it seems designed to help.

In Texas, where barely two-thirds of the population have full health insurance and over a fifth of all children have no cover at all, opposition to the legislation is currently running at 87%.

If people vote against their own interests, it is not because they do not understand what is in their interest or have not yet had it properly explained to them.

They do it because they resent having their interests decided for them by politicians who think they know best.

There is nothing voters hate more than having things explained to them as though they were idiots.

As the saying goes, in politics, when you are explaining, you are losing. And that makes anything as complex or as messy as healthcare reform a very hard sell.

And when the politicians say to the people protesting: ‘But we’re doing this for you’, that just makes it worse. In fact, that seems to be what makes them angriest of all.

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01. February 2010 by Miguel Barbosa
Categories: Curated Readings, Psychology & Sociology | Leave a comment

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