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Why do people vote Republican?
  by Roger Schank


Why do people vote Republican?

It is common to make the assumption that people are thinking when they vote and they are making reasoned choices.
I harbor no such illusion. No argument I have ever gotten into with these people, (despite avoiding talking to them,
I sometimes can't resist saying something true) has ever convinced anyone of anything. They are not reasoning,
nor do they want to try. They simply believe what they believe. What do they believe?

    1. They don't like blacks. Forget the rest. It isn't that they are racists. They will be polite if a black person ever appears.
(This doesn't happen much, although I am sure they must live here too.) They just don't like them. They have no reason.
If you ask them today, as a result of recent remarks by Michelle Obama and their pastor, they will say that blacks hate America.
This is not the reason, but they sound more reasoned in their own minds if they say it that way.

    2. They don't like wussies. The Democrats are always nominating wussies,—men who are not men. Obama looks
like his wife runs the show at home. Kerry? Gore? Dukakis. Wussies. Not real men. Bad people are trying to kill us.
We need to kill them first. Those guys wouldn't pull the trigger. (I am not making this up. I wish I were.)

    3. They worry about money. Who wants to take their money away? Liberals of course. They want to give it to the blacks.

Where I live is not redneck country. There is a lot of church going but no talk about abortion or of being born again.
There is a just a distaste and distrust for people not like us (which I am sure includes me.)

It is all very nice to come up with complex analyses of what is going on. As is often the case, the real answer is quite simple.
Most people can't think very well. They were taught not to think by religion and by a school system that teaches that knowledge
of state capitals and quadratic equations is what education is all about and that well reasoned argument and original ideas will not
help on a multiple choice test.

We don't try to get the average child to think in this society so why, as adults would we expect that they actually would be thinking?
They think about how the Yankees are doing, and who will win some reality show contest, and what restaurant to eat it, but they
are not equipped to think about politics and, in my mind, they are not equipped to vote. The fact that we let them vote while failing
to encourage them to think for themselves is a real problem for our society.

The scientific question here is how belief systems are acquired and changed. I worked on this problem with both Ken Colby and
Bob Abelson for many years. Colby was a psychiatrist who modeled paranoid behavior on computers. The basis of his work was
research on how neurotic thinking depends upon the attempt to make inconsistent beliefs work together when the core beliefs cannot change.

Abelson worked on modeling political belief systems. He built a very convincing model of Barry Goldwater that showed that once
you adopted some simple beliefs about the cold war, every other position Goldwater took could be derived (and asserted by a computer)
from those core beliefs. The idea of a set of unchanging core beliefs is not true of only politicians or psychiatric patients of course.
Everyday average Joes behave the same way. Adult belief systems rest on childhood beliefs instilled by parents mostly and by assorted other authorities.

Republicans do not try to change voter's beliefs. They go with them. Democrats appeal to reason. Big mistake.


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