Why do people vote against their own interests?

"What? No arugula!

An article in the BBC News asked this about Americans.   I have a few observations about the article.  First, I agree with three paragraphs, though I dispute the author’s conclusion: 

“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. ” 

Doesn’t the above sound like the epitomy of  The grating Communicator?  From The NYT:

“Obama, speaking to a joint session of Congress in his annual State of the Union address, also said he was partially responsible for the legislative effort sagging, saying he did not do a good enough job explaining the healthcare issue to Americans.”

Second, the author talks down about us as though we are morons.  According to him, stories and our emotions, not facts and logic and statistics, inform we great un-washed masses of Americans for whom to vote.  You can almost hear him chortle: “Of course you boobs would all be socialists if only you knew what was in your best interest!” 

Yes, Americans are opposed to “intellectual snobs,” but we oppose you because you are wrong, not because you are snobs.  Obama is an arugula-eating snob, but he is occasionally correct. It just happens that he is wrong the great majority of the time.  When he is correct I do not oppose him. 

Finally, the authors argument totally ignores that many conservatives are principled and act according to their principles, not necessarily what is in their own selfish best interests.  It might be in my best interest to quash the speech of those with whom I disagree, but I refuse to based upon my principles. Likewise, it would be in my interest to raise everybody else’s taxes while eliminating my own.  But that would not be fair, and it would violate my principles, and so I would vote against it. 

And the author seems to only look at the short-term supposed best interests and disregards the long-term best interests.  “Free” health care would be in my short-term best interest, but because socialism does not work, it would not be in my long-term best interest to support government takeover of healthcare.  Taxes and bureaucracy would increase, and services and efficiency would decrease.  The reality is the majority of Americans get it.  And that is what has that author and many others with their scratching their heads and wondering why Americans “vote against their own interests.”

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