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Op-Ed: Voting for all the wrong reasons


“Regardless of the strength of attachment to their own party, the more voters dislike the opposing party, the greater probability that they will vote for their party's candidate."

– Steven Webster

W.C. Fields once proclaimed, “I never vote for anyone. I always vote against.”  guest op 4

Pew Research’s latest checklists of political benchmarks reveal what we already know. Americans are more divided than at any time in recent history on political issues. Republicans and Democrats today hold vastly disparate views on the role government plays on immigration, the economy, human rights, welfare, business, free speech, states rights and even on the food we eat and the drugs we take. The study underscores this deep distaste for the other side of the aisle that festered during the 2000 Florida election recount and escalated out of the stratosphere during Barack Obama’s two terms in office.

There have been numerous studies by political academics on how American political opinion changed over the course of Obama's eight years in the White House. Most credit Obama for birthing today’s new progressive movement. He changed the way Americans view everything government did during his tenure.

Their changes in attitude about government’s role in the free market, social programs, regulation, race relations, the economy, healthcare, and foreign policy directly attributed to Obama are staggering. At no other time in modern U.S. history, since Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, has one person so dramatically divided the parties and changed the direction of his party than Obama did.

Ordinary citizens have preferences about what government ought to do and they elect leaders who will carry out those preferences. But even voters who pay close attention to politics are biased to blinkered decision-making. People make political decisions based on social identities and partisan loyalties, not by honest examination of issues or factual data about candidates. They make choices in their personal lives that directly affect their own well-being. Therefore, they believe by voting for a person that makes them feel they will be rewarded with something for their vote is a good reason to vote for them.

“When you spread the wealth around it’s good for everybody.”

– Barack Obama

Obama blazed the pathway for the new progressive era with grandiose promises of fortune and government gifts for everyone who wanted an entitlement. Although he expanded government and was overly generous in redistributing tax dollars, voters have always voted for people that sounded too good to be true. That is politics at its best, and a reason for voting for someone at its worst.

In 1934, Germany’s Adolf Hitler was elected by a huge majority in a free election. Hitler, a failed art student, became a successful community organizer by pitching his ideology in beer halls and town meetings. Promising the German youth to avenge the losses sustained by the Treaty of Versailles, he quickly rose to power.

Hitler's cunning political acuity attracted a cultish group of followers, enabling him to seize total control of Germany by 1934. He led his disciples into the bloodiest war in world history. Hitler’s reign of terror on Germany and the world ended in 1945 when he committed suicide in Berlin.

“How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don't think.”

– Adolf Hitler

In 1932, under the backdrop of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt defeated Herbert Hoover by a landside because he made promises to end the Depression by expanding government and putting a “chicken in every pot” in every American home. He is remembered for abusing his power to invade and control every industry and institution in America.

The day after FDR took office, he proclaimed a national banking holiday to prevent people from withdrawing their money. He decreed “all banking transactions are suspended." He followed that with a legislative rampage to win friends and influence people. He confiscated America’s gold and railroaded legislation through Congress to gain support from key business groups, unions and farmers. His economic policies resulted in cartelized business, high prices, less work, and steep labor costs. And Americans worshiped him?

Even more tragic is the lasting legacy of Roosevelt’s creation of billions of dollars of entitlement programs like Social Security, unemployment insurance and numerous taxpayer-funded working programs. They did nothing but redistribute wealth and misery.

The Wagner Act of 1935 increased the authority of federal government in industrial relations and gave unions unlimited power. FDR destroyed America’s individualism, free markets, and limited government. And voters elected him four consecutive terms? Congress finally had enough and passed the 22nd Amendment to protect America from another FDR.

“In politics, nothing happens by accident.”

– Franklin D. Roosevelt

George H.W. Bush was the first president after the cold war with the arduous task of remaking our economy. He signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia and led military operations in Panama and the Persian Gulf. He had strong support from voters for his foreign policy, but lost his reelection to a hand-picked southerner Bill Clinton. This was due to one faux pas at the GOP’s National Convention in 1988. He promised no new taxe – “Read my lips.” That sound bite was played like a broken record by Clinton’s campaign to defeat him.

"I know there are always going to be people who want to be president, and some days I'd like to give it to them."

– Bill Clinton

Martin Luther King said, “When will we judge a man by his character instead of his color?” When George Bush was mired in a recession because of a housing crisis created by Carter and Clinton during the 2008 election, the liberal media blamed him. Yet the scheme of “borrow now and pay it back later” was the left’s answer to “housing for all.” When this financial house of cards collapsed, people voted for a novelty candidate who campaigned on one word, “change”? And nobody ever figured out what “change” even was?

“I am the change you’ve been waiting for.”

– Barack Obama

The Democratic and Republican parties are in disillusionment. These two antiquated institutions cling to the status quo while America is undergoing a radical political transformation. More people than ever are claiming to be independents because they are ashamed to admit they belong to a political party.

The Democratic Party that once brokered bills with Republicans, has turned so far to the left; they are fighting with each other over who can turn our republic into a socialist democracy the fastest. The GOP is not supporting the most proactive conservative lawmaker they’ve had in the oval office since Ronald Reagan. People are seeking solutions and answers, not political drama and theatrics.

“Politics is such a disgrace good people don't go into government.”

– Donald Trump

People will continue to vote for all of the wrong reasons as long as the qualities of the candidates reflect those of their political party not those of our American voters. American politics is no longer about serving out of love of our country. It is about self-adulation and political showmanship. We need to give voters more statesmen and fewer politicians if we want more concerned and better informed voters.

“Voting is voting your heart and voting your conscience and when you have, don't let anyone, a Democrat or a Republican, tell you that you've wasted your vote because the fact is – if you don’t vote your heart and conscience then you have wasted your vote.”

– Jesse Ventura

published here with permission of THE CENTER SQUARE