Why do most Southern Conservatives still vote against their own best interests? I have tried to explore this question with some depth. I first posted my observations and analysis of this question on an Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s blog on November 26, 2013. I have reposted my thoughts here. I hope that readers of “MaryElizabethSings” will find my analysis meaningful. (Another poster on the AJC blog website interacted with me, regarding my thoughts, at one point, below.)
Mary Elizabeth: “I want to ‘bring home’ a point regarding limited government that may have been lost among several points which I had been making earlier this evening.
That point is that many Southerners do not support limited government in the same way that Thomas Jefferson supported limited government. Many Southerners of today support limited government because government represents to them federal, or Northern, control over their lives, which has been an emotional albatross-around-the-necks of Southerners for generations, because the South lost the Civil War. The federal government has – in the minds of these Southerners – been equated with the ‘Union’s’ control over their lives. That is why one continues to hear so often in Southern states, especially, as in Texas, the call for secession from the Union, even to this day.
As I had posted earlier, this is not simply my theory of why Southerners especially want limited government. An astute politician noted this same reasoning as being behind many Southerners’ decrying of ‘too much government’ decades ago. See below.
As I had posted at 3:26 p.m. today:
‘A political operative, not a Southerner, but one who understood the South, said back in 1964 (on the JFK broadcasts shown in the last week), ‘In some uncanny way Southerners see medical care for citizens which comes from the federal government, and federal ‘intrusion’ into education, and the federal government’s regulation of private business (a la Lester Maddox) as being consistent with the Union’s forcing the South to do its will, as it had immediately following the Civil War.’
Changing consciousness is a process and that process takes generations to change . . .’
Thus, there is more going on than simply an ideological vision of governance when some Southerners say that they believe in ‘limited government.’ For these Southerners, their belief in limited government has emotional, and even irrational, roots in their families’ long, Southern history, from which they have not yet been able fully to extricate themselves, emotionally.
Another Poster: “Thanks Mary Elizabeth – you’ve helped me understand something. I always wonder why people vote against their own best interest.
For example, the current issue of Medicaid. Rural white folk all over Georgia are going to lose their hospitals and significant numbers of well paying jobs in their areas. Their taxes are going to go to pay for expansion of jobs and health care in Kentucky, and California, and Illinois, thanks to a really awful decision by the Republican leadership of this state. (See links below for information regarding denial of Medicaid expansion, as a part of the ACA, in Georgia.)
Yet they will dutifully go to the polls and vote Republican again in 2014. Very strange, but if they’re still voting to somehow preserve a way of life, it makes more sense.”
Mary Elizabeth: “Thank you. I posted late last evening with the hope that someone might read my thoughts and that my words would mean something to any who might read my thoughts. I appreciate your taking the time to tell me that what I had posted meant something of importance to you.
Yes, many Southern white people are still voting against their best interests because, deep down, they feel that they must do that, as you write, ‘to somehow preserve a way of life.’ The Southerners who remain within this self-inflicted emotional cell, which has been handed down for generations, mainly interact with family and friends regarding their political/social views. Remaining in that ‘closed society of perceptions’ reinforces one another’s perceptions. It is truly sad, to me, for I have witnessed this happening all of my life.
Moreover, as you may have read in the person’s post just before your own, the pain of these particular white Southerners’ perceptions affects not only themselves adversely, but their closed-off perceptions adversely affects the minorities in the South who well know that many white Southerners still do not ‘see’ them as their equals, inherently, because of perceptions handed down from generations past. I could read the almost tangible pain in that person’s post. And, that saddens me, too. When he/she said at the end of his/her post, in capital letters, it matters not ‘what you say, but what you do,’ I knew exactly what he/she was feeling. That very real pain was what I was trying to share with others when I wrote that the word choice of ‘convince’ by the former aide to Rand Paul had offended me. One does not ‘convince’ others of one’s feelings of identification with them through logic and ‘convincing,’ but through the heart and soul.
You may have read the mocking posts, last evening, to my earlier posts in which I encouraged the reaching for higher consciousness (which transcends regional emotional biases). Those who felt they must mock my thinking were Southern men. The wall still remains up and guarded, if only through mockery, and that wall continues to hurt themselves, and others, through the emotional divisions it creates.
I know of no other way to help alter these lingering perceptions of many Southerners – white, black, and all others – except to continue to write truth as deeply, and as honestly, as I can see it.”
Other Poster: “I usually ignore the ‘mocking posts’, Mary Elizabeth. . .”
Mary Elizabeth: “I have also learned, belatedly, that that is the best approach. However, for clarity, I must write that the only reason I mentioned this mocking in my earlier post was to demonstrate how ingrained the commitment to the ‘Southern way’ is in the minds and hearts of many. I truly was not being personally defensive when I mentioned the earlier mocking regarding ‘higher consciousness.’ For each person who may overtly mock those who seek for a better way in the South, many others will reject these attempts at higher understanding, silently, but will not write the mocking words to try to stop the change. There is much, still, left to do in the South to raise the thinking of white Southerners to celebrate their special culture while also believing, deep down, that they, as well as Southern minorities, are inherently first-class American citizens.”
From the links below: “‘I guess the bottom line is if we don’t expand Medicaid and they cut the (hospitals’ federal subsidy) … we’re giving up current funding and we’re giving up future funding,’ she said. ‘We’re putting hospitals like Memorial and other safety nets in a very tight spot.’ ”
Article, above, published online in “Georgia Trend Daily” http://www.georgiatrend.com/Georgia-Trend-Daily/