An extremely liberal friend from Ohio, Terry Bradford, posted something on Facebook yesterday about the irony that nine of the ten poorest states in America consistently voted for conservatives – “If conservatism is so great, why are the ten poorest states all red states?!?.” I responded, “Duh? Because conservatism equates to opportunity.” A little later in the thread, I inserted “An American’s Creed” by Dean Alfange:
- I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon. I seek opportunity to develop whatever talents God gave me – not security. I do not choose to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for the dole. I prefer the challenge of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the state calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any earthly master nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud, and unafraid; to think and act myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations and to face the world boldly and say – ‘This, with God’s help, I have done.’ All this is what it means to be an American.”
This is not the first time that liberals have complained to me about poor (dumb) conservatives who reject the liberal lure of free benefits. Or as Alexis de Tocqueville said, “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”
Why don’t poor conservatives vote consistent with their selfish interests? But the same thing could be asked of rich liberals – i.e., why are rich liberals wanting to tax themselves more so that government can give more to the poor?
There are numerous psychological studies assuring us that, although people may talk altruistically, they are fundamentally directed by their DNA toward selfish impulses. But those studies also concede that an individual’s brain, when allowed time to reflect, can override their survivalist DNA.
I suspect a person’s political philosophy (and voting behavior) is one of those things that is not entirely selfish. Of course, to my way of thinking,
conservatism is better not only philosophically, but also economically.