That’s what the intellectual elite think of working class conservative voters. They think that voting Left is OBVIOUSLY in the best interests of the workers and cannot understand that the base of support for the GOP is mainly among the less affluent. They think that working class people are cutting their own throats by voting conservative. It’s an old claim but an extended version of it has just appeared — where else? — on the BBC.
So what is the reason for this incredible folly among conservatives? Mental illness, emotional disturbance etc., of course. I can’t be bothered to excerpt any of the nonsense this time. Suffice it to say that Drew Westen and Thomas Frank — the usual suspects — are trotted out to give their versions of the “explanation”. How the BBC missed out on getting a comment from George Lakoff is the only mystery.
To give the author — David Runciman — his due he does point to the elitism and arrogance of the Democrats as a reason why ordinary people might not vote for them and he does reject the old but very extreme Hofstadter claim that it is all “paranoia”. But, even, so, the explanation he gives is that conservatives are voting with their emotions and not their reason.
I am confident that in ten minutes I could give Runciman enough reasons for the rationality of conservatism to jar even him but why stray into politics when we are discussing political psychology — which is my academic specialty? As some measure of how long Runciman’s nonsense has been around my paper on the subject dates back to 1972! and it appeared in The British Journal of Political Science. So if Runciman — who claims to be a political scientist — were a competent scholar he would already be aware of it and would mention the evidence in it. But what Leftist is bothered about evidence?
What I found was that it was the working class conservatives who were “normal”. It was the working class Leftists who were particularly rebellious and haters of the society in which they lived. That characterization of Leftist voters is of course not at all surprising but it does put the boot on the other foot for Runciman. It is the Leftist voters who are emotion-driven, not the conservatives. And my conclusions were based on carefully validated survey research using a representative general population sample, not the vague inferences of Thomas Frank, Drew Westen etc.
What a laugh they are!
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