This is a fascinating article that explains why the quote often attributed to PT Barnum about a sucker is born every minute is even more true in America today where the emotional rantings of Beck, Palin, Rush, et al work and intellectual debate of issues in full doesn’t. Read the whole article (this excerpt only touches the surface) to understand why we have become a nation of ‘sheeple’.

Why are so many American voters enraged by attempts to change a horribly inefficient [health care] system that leaves them with premiums they often cannot afford? Why are they manning the barricades to defend insurance companies that routinely deny claims and cancel policies?

It might be tempting to put the whole thing down to what the historian Richard Hofstadter back in the 1960s called “the paranoid style” of American politics, in which God, guns and race get mixed into a toxic stew of resentment at anything coming out of Washington. But that would be a mistake.

If people vote against their own interests, it is not because they do not understand what is in their interest or have not yet had it properly explained to them. They do it because they resent having their interests decided for them by politicians who think they know best. There is nothing voters hate more than having things explained to them as though they were idiots. As the saying goes, in politics, when you are explaining, you are losing. And that makes anything as complex or as messy as healthcare reform a very hard sell.

In his book The Political Brain, psychologist Drew Westen, an exasperated Democrat, tried to show why the Right often wins the argument even when the Left is confident that it has the facts on its side.
Right-wing politics has become a vehicle for channelling this popular anger against intellectual snobs. The result is that many of America’s poorest citizens have a deep emotional attachment to a party that serves the interests of its richest.

Thomas Frank says that whatever disadvantaged Americans think they are voting for, they get something quite different.

  1. psychosus says:

    I swear that American politics have it the wrong way round – the rich and priviledged are supposed to be right-wing (business men and fascists). The under-priviledged working man is left wing (labour and communists).

    Yet somehow in America the low class working man typically votes right-wing Republican and sees the left-wing Democrats as “the elected privileged class” (quoting #15).

    This means that the hard-working poor American ends up voting for the rich Republican businessmen rulers who screw them over rigidly – and they love them for it. Its absolutely psychotic.


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