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July 28th, 2010


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02:16 am - US & UK Politics - Conservatives
With the recent UK elections, I'm struck by how similar the US and UK conservative politics is. The big difference is obvious – in the UK, the crazy racists have their own utterly vile and thankfully tiny party – the BNP, while in the US, such people are openly welcomed by the Republican Party. However, behind that we have a focus on helping the rich get richer, taking from everyone else, and disregarding any consequences that get in the way of the rich getting richer that looks remarkably similar in both the US & the UK.
In the UK, we have conservatives: It's all exceedingly familiar and again raises a question that I have great difficulty understanding – why the heck does anyone who isn't both wealthy and devoid of all concern for others vote for these monsters? In the US, some people have the (vile) excuse of preferring to vote for people who design their campaigns to appeal to racist homophobes and religious zealots, but that's far from everyone who votes Republican and even fewer people who vote for the UK conservatives feel this way. And yet, these people win elections – I simply do not understand.

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Comments:


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From:andrewducker
Date:July 28th, 2010 09:34 am (UTC)
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The last time around, a lot of people voted against Labour rather than pro-Conservative, because they were fed up with the authoritarianism of Labour (which the Conservatives promised to repeal the worse of), and also with their mismanagment of the economy. The Lib-Dems aren't seen as worth voting for, because of the current voting system (hopefully to change with a referendum next year), so Conservative was the only option they had.
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From:heron61
Date:July 28th, 2010 09:44 am (UTC)
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From everything I've read, it sounds like Labour was doing a fairly poor job, but voting for people who will clearly and deliberately make the situation worse makes no sense at all to me.
[User Picture]
From:andrewducker
Date:July 28th, 2010 09:46 am (UTC)
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People thought that they'd make the situation better, financially speaking. And when it comes down to it, jobs and the economy are the biggest thing people vote for most of the time.

Also, they are repealing a lot of the nasty authoritarian stuff, which I heartily approve of.
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From:heron61
Date:July 28th, 2010 10:03 am (UTC)
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Also, they are repealing a lot of the nasty authoritarian stuff

Like what? I haven't seen much about that.
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From:kitten_goddess
Date:July 28th, 2010 12:18 pm (UTC)
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Wow. Even the conservatives in the UK seem more intelligent than they are in America! We're stuck with the likes of Sharron Angle.
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From:kitten_goddess
Date:July 28th, 2010 05:44 pm (UTC)
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In the US, some deeply religious people vote against their own interests because they are told that Christians cannot be pro-choice. I actually got exposed to that nonsense and believed it while I was in college. Luckily, someone hit me upside the head with a clue-by-four before I was set loose upon the world at graduation...
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From:erelin
Date:July 28th, 2010 06:44 pm (UTC)
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There are a few factors that I've noticed.

The first is the image of the "corrupt politician" which says that anyone who goes for elected office is bad anyway, so you are really just choosing the bad person who says the things you like to hear more than the other one.

The second reason is fear. When people think things are bad, they tend to push for people who argue to maintain the status quo- as people have over-idealised versions of the past. If you believe that the past was better than now, (economically or socially) then an argument to go back to things that you've been told or believe worked before isn't unappealing. Conversely, when things are good, people can see no real reason to change.

The third reason is linked to the above: people do not like to change. Arguments for a "new way" only work when people who touted the "old way" get slammed in the face by their argument, and even then people see it as temporary. Check out the Monty Hall problem: it's better to switch, but most people won't unless they really, really know that because once they have made a decision, they stick with it. This is also why some people stick with a party after joining. It is also the appeal of conservatism: they argue for things to stick to ways that seemed to work before, at least from our current version of an idealised past. (see the beginning of 2)

The fourth reason is slander in not just one, but both parties. Each party makes it sound like the other is horrible, bad, and evil. So it's really hard to switch. First, you have to overcome the fact that the people you are switching to are CALLED evil, and then you have to overcome the fact that those people CALLED YOU evil. Neither helps win converts, but it does help them maintain a base of people.

The fifth reason is that there is (what seems to be) a natural human tendency to fear and despise those who are different from oneself. This feeds into the slander above, but it also means that it is easier to preach isolation than acceptance. And where isolation is preached, those groups who are in the minority are pushed aside which makes empathising harder. This is why it is easy to get people to be homophobes, racists, or to fear the homeless and desperate, but it is quite hard to reverse the trend.

The sixth reason has to do with business. People like to think that they can "make it." That they can be rich and famous and enjoy every luxury known to man. It's a common dream, and it stems from our natural desires for prosperity and security. (It isn't people's number 1 dream, but it has broad appeal) And privatised business does allow for social mobility: if you make a big invention or big company, you can become quite rich. People fear that being taken away by the government. People also are aware that for the lifestyle they hold, they NEED the oil and gas industry. There are a lot of people employed by it (including those who work for distributing it here, which is something that could possibly be automated, but not outsourced) and those people want to protect their jobs. Between need and employment, it's a powerful motivator.

Finally, people on both sides tend to have a huge 'fundamental attribution error' when it comes to the government. They tend to see any big problem as something that the government can and should handle, or is directly responsible for- whether it is a financial disaster, a foreign relations disaster, or a natural disaster. People even blame stock market rises and drops on the President, and more to the point, they blame THEIR stock market rises and drops on the President, which is ludicrous. And people tend to make up a good portion of their past. Combine that with the above, and you get people blaming every problem on the other party, and every success on their own ability, with only their most immediate failures potentially being blamed on their own party, IF it is strong.

All of this is based on my (somewhat limited) study of psychology, marketing, and political tactics, and I'll bow out to any actual data that says I am wrong.
[User Picture]
From:rjgrady
Date:July 30th, 2010 02:09 am (UTC)
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Reaction formation. "If I vote against the self-inflictedly poor, that means I am both rich and self-efficacious."

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