In a Representative Democracy, voting for a particular political candidate or philosophy is the most impactful way a citizenry can change their country. While the â€œwhoâ€ a person votes for is what actively shapes a Republic, digging into the motivation behind that vote is far more telling, and ultimately reveals far more about ourselves and where we are heading.
As government involvement in Americans day-to-day lives has expanded, the possible motivating factors at play driving each citizens vote has also expandedâ€”and the effects of this have been devastating. Boiled down to the most basic level, there are two motivations that influence a political voteâ€”you can vote in what you believe is in the best interest of the country, or you can vote in your own personal interest.
In past generations, before the American government was so deeply involved in the giving business, the vast majority of our population largely had only the best interest of the country as a whole to consider. Unfortunately, today nearly half of our citizens have the legitimate option of choosing to vote for their own personal gain at the ballot box.
Not Your Grandfatherâ€™s Democratic Party
Though it sounds crass, the modern day Democratic Party has evolved into a selfish group of constituencies that have something to gain in voting for Democrats and against Republicans. While the most obvious entries on the list involve financial assistance from the economic safety netâ€”unending unemployment benefits, housing subsidies, food stamps, Title 19, etc.â€”in recent years this list has grown to include several other things.
Hispanic Americans can now vote Democrat to ultimately allow their friends and relatives who are here illegally become citizens. Gay Americans can now vote Democrat to gain the right to marry and the economic advantages that come with it. Union members can vote Democrat in order to receive more favorably negotiated salaries and benefits at the bargaining table. Those Americans who, for whatever reason, did not have health insurance can now vote a straight Democratic ticket in hopes of retaining it, since they have now been given it.
In large part this massive constituency of selfishly driven voters explains what the mind-boggling national debt has become so out of control. Far more than any other issue, not running annual deficits and paying down the national debt are two things that are in the best interest of the countryâ€”and not necessarily in the best interest of each individual American. The polling data bears this out showing that, even with the national debt north of $16 trillion, only 66% of Democrats cite lowering this number as a major priority.
Contrarians to this line of thinking will make the charge that Republicans vote in their own best interest by voting for politicians who believe in lowering their taxes. As usual this charge leaves out one unavoidable factâ€”that the money taken by the government for taxes is earned, and it belonged to the individual in the first place. Put simply, voting to keep more of your own money and not giving it away to a largely wasteful entitlement state (especially one with a progressive tax code) is not a greed driven motivationâ€”rather it is a logical one.
What It Means
The selfishly motivated voter is the single biggest reason why European style democracies are self-feeding, self-defeating, unworkable, and unsustainable. Yet in spite of the real-time evidence playing out across the Atlantic, a near majority of Americans refuse to change course. Increasingly, it is hard not to assume a major reason why American voters are unwilling to do so is that they would be putting themselves out to do so.
The only way to break this cycle is for the Democrat Party to shift away from promising things to an ever-widening group of voters. The sad truth though is that they have built a political base only able to stand upright through some combination of deficit spending, large tax increases, and social pandering. They have become so politically dependent on various sub-groups that making decisions for the economic good of the country, even if they wanted to, would quickly result in them paying a huge political price and losing elections.
Whenever Americans choose to overlook our national interest and instead vote in favor of their own, neither is well served.