Thursday, July 6, 2017

Irrational Questions About Rational Choice: My Most Up-voted Comment on Quora

Inexplicably, I have been allowed back on Quora. I accessed it through my Facebook account and no one seems to have a problem with me any more. I'm not sure how long that will last. Nevertheless, it is interesting to me to see which answers I give seem to spark the most interests. The following exchange is clearly my most popular (upvoted) so far.

Question: Why do people so frequently vote for republicans who are to a great extent against their own interests?
"Me at the Beach," by John Drew,
Self-portrait, oil on canvas, 10' x 10'.

My Answer: I’m an ex-Democrat largely because the Democrat party stopped representing my interests as a member of the white working class. The key issues for me was affirmative action. As a young man, I grew up poor. Nevertheless, I had good grades, I completed calculus in high school and had outstanding SAT scores.

I worked hard and spent many hours in the library working to get ahead while other, wealthier students, partied and used drugs like cocaine and marijuana. My hard work paid off and I got a scholarship to study in England for a year and later got a full scholarship to attend Cornell University as a graduate student.

As I was finishing up my graduate studies and looking for teaching positions it became perfectly clear that Democrat party members did not care whether I found a job or not. They were much more intent on getting jobs for women and members of favored minorities groups. My family was half Armenian and I was the first person on my mother’s side of the family to graduate from college, much less go to graduate school.

Overtime, I became a registered Republican. This was my only choice, in large measure, as I came to realize Democrats saw white working class folks like me as the enemy. They still suggest I benefit from “white privilege” when my experience is that being white harmed my life and my career as an academic.

At every turn of my life Democrat party policies have made my journey more painful and more difficult. Due taxation policies, I pay more than other people because I have chosen to marry and stay married. Due to housing policies, I have been left with a high mortgage in an expensive housing market. Due to government set asides for minority contractors, I have lost business to companies run by favored minority groups and women. It goes on and on. The Democrats are not on my side.

I would be irrational to vote for the people who have brought down on me so much hatred and discrimination. Even worse, as a student of political economy, I know that the end result of socialism in the U.S. will not be a second Sweden. Instead, it would be a second Venezuela. It would be a place where the ruling elite enriches itself (like the Clintons and Obamas), the most productive people bail out and hide their wealth, and the people supposedly helped by socialism end up picking through the garbage looking for scraps of food.

Trust me. I’m voting Republican because I know it is in my best interest to do so. I think the whole premise of this question is wrong.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

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