The High Price of Moral Voting

By Wendi Spayth Bragg

The pre-election media narrative was  Trump voters were, en masse, bigoted, homophobic, sexist, racist, ignorant morons. There is a deeply held belief that the only thing that should matter to voters in the election are morals.  Values.   Elections by and large—for the people at the lower end of the economic tiers—are not about “values”. They are about survival. They are about daily pressing concerns. They are about questions like:

“Do I have enough for me and my children to eat?”

“Do I have somewhere for me and my children to lay our heads at night?”

“Are there jobs that I even have a chance at getting?”

“Is my brother going to get sent overseas to die for some reason I can’t understand?”

“Are we going to get bombed again? Will it happen here?”

“Is it safe for me to go about my daily life?”

These are representative questions, and there are plenty of variations.

The blue-collar working class use “survival” as their criteria. Different people have different ideas about how those questions should be addressed, which is where a lot of our angst comes from, but “food, water, shelter” is the cornerstone.  

I think those questions are, ultimately, how voters on both sides of this election voted. I live in the South. I don’t think there was much “Let’s round up $Demographic and get rid of ’em!” voting. I think for people seeing their paycheck buy less food, and seeing the jobs dry up, that the abstraction of $Demographic_Issues took second place (or further back) to the dire straights in their day to day life.  

Only when people are secure, only when the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy is met, can they afford to vote values.

A widely circulated meme posits that it is absolutely hypocritical to benefit from, even rely on, a service, while holding those workers in contempt. So let us consider for a moment that “we”—largely urbanites—demand organic produce, grass fed beef, vegan soy alternatives to meat, and that those foods be inexpensive and plentiful, after having spent literal decades denigrating the people who provide those products.  We live in a society that will collapse if the lights go out, and denigrate not just coal and oil, but the people who put in the backbreaking work to mine it and drill it and make things out of petroleum..

We denigrate them for voting their very livelihood by calling them “racist homophobes.” It’s wrong. It’s hypocritical.

No one votes against their immediate self-interest. Not LGBT people voting for marriage equality. Not disabled people voting for wheelchair access to public spaces.  Not oil workers who vote to keep oil production in this country where their jobs are.  Some take a longer view than others, but everyone votes for their immediate survival needs.

Once those are met, only then do citizens vote values.  Bashing people for voting Trump is nothing but poverty-bashing.

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