It’s Not Just Kansas
What’s the matter with the rest of us?
Back in 2004, when “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” was released, there was a great outcry about how social conservatives, like rural Kansans, would so consistently betray their own economic interests to support such narrow & hateful social causes.
Fast-forward 20 years (the book starts tracking people in the 90s) and we’ve got Trump in office, purporting to support those “rural Kansas” social causes while embodying virtually every sin they railed against when Clinton was in office — kleptocratic self-indulgence (renting out the Lincoln bedroom?), sexual promiscuity (porn stars / interns), business incompetence (Whitewater vs well… pretty much anything), and dodging military service in Vietnam.
But hey, economically we’re doing… I dunno, “fine” maybe? I mean, unemployment is low (but wages suck for many jobs) and the stock market is booming (where the gains are concentrated among the wealthy, who are the stockholders).
So Kansans (and by proxy, most of rural red-state America) got a chance to vote in favor of someone who mouthed support for their social/moral stands, and promised to thwart the “liberal establishment” in their “quest” to continue to push someone else’s “values” on them and they turned out in droves to support an ego-maniacal liar and serial philanderer whose poor business decisions were largely concealed by actionable criminal activity.
Now, those same red-state Trump supporters, who spent years being economically hoodwinked by an electoral machine designed to squeeze their votes to prop up a bunch of kleptocratic godzillionaires are seeing “good” economic news like the Dow, S&P 500, unemployment rate, etc and they’re yelling at the blue states “What’s wrong with you? The economy is booming! How could you hate the current administration?”
And thus we’ve come to a full socio-political circle in which a non-trivial segment of the population is willing to forgo what seems like solid economics to instead support a particular moral/value system.
Blue-state intelligentsia used to wonder why Kansans were voting against their own economic interests to prop up a “values” regime that was borderline illegal but nonetheless popular.
And now we have red-state media darlings wondering why New Yorkers and Californians are willing to run away from economic interests to enact a “values” regime that is in line with the legal protections of the US Constitution but highly unpopular in red states because it no longer ensures the primacy of white, hetero, “Christian” men.
Maybe what we’re learning over these past 20+ years is that (A) economic considerations matter for a lot of people, but the “values” arguments matter a lot more for the hardcore partisans, and (B) people are willing to forgo economic gain to enact policies and leadership whose values align with theirs, particularly (especially?) if that economic pain is a shared burden regardless of values orientation.
In other words:
I’m voting my values, even when it hurts my wallet.
I’m especially voting my values, if it can also hurt your wallet in the process.
But would I vote my values, if it hurts my wallet, but not yours? We don’t have that answer yet, because we haven’t seen it on a macro level. But it will be very interesting if that choice ever presents itself.
This was another thread I migrated over from Twitter and expanded. Probably going to be a bunch of these.
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