A vote for Bush is a vote for yourself?

A while ago, my dad made the statement that anyone who is educated and votes for Bush must be doing it for selfish reasons. At first I considered the statement too categorical and closed-minded, and therefore untrue. But coming up with an example that refuted the generalization was difficult. It's true that a handful of people in my more extended family who vote for Bush are either rich, or kind of selfish, or both. So assuming that the average vote for Bush is cast for selfish reasons, is there anything wrong with that? Or is that how we can expect people to vote, and more generally to express themselves politically? Is democracy merely a system for balancing selfish power and interests, or are there higher reasons for identifying with a political candidate or creed, such as philanthropy or ideology?

I tend to think that my dad is wrong. I don't think political affiliation is purely a function of interest for a couple of reasons: 1) The term "ideology" would lose its meaning then, since there is no place for ideals when every choice is a cut-and-dry instance of self-interest - although ideology could just be a way to rationalize self-interest, an analysis I don't subscribe to myself. 2) Most people cannot accurately assess how their interests will be served because a) they have imperfect or incomplete information about the precise consequences of most policies b) in the case of supporting a political party, they do not know for sure what policies will actually be implemented. 3) Lots of people (from the South, military) who vote Republican do not ostensibly benefit from the party's(economic) policies. This brings another question: is it somehow better to support a party which has hypothetically pernicious policies on the grounds of ideology, rather than because of interest?

One point I would like to make here is that as the inequalities among voters grow, so do their interests diverge, and this makes the role that interest plays in political activity more salient. Basically the domestic political forum becomes more like a fighting ring, rather than a place of collaboration. I don't know if it's bad or good, but it definitely detracts from a harmonious political system.

We'll surely be talking much more about inequality here at KrisKraus, because the so-far silent Kris is actually an avowed and vocal socialist.

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