Emotional vs. Logical Voting

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.


There are often hard dividing lines between the reasons voters favor one party or candidate over another. One on hand, there are the concrete policy and philosophical reasons. Stances on issues such as abortion (euphemistically referred to as “choice”), gun control, illegal immigration, military spending, taxation, fossil fuel development vs. environmental considerations, and demographically-based hiring/admission issues are generally make-or-break factors in determining whether an informed voter does or does not support a particular candidate or party. It’s hard to vote against a strongly-held conviction.

On the other hand, many times people vote contrary to their basic convictions and beliefs simply because of emotional or egotistical conflicts. People often can’t bring themselves to vote for a candidate or party with whom they’ve had a long-standing emotional conflict or personal aversion. In particular, many seemingly intelligent, thoughtful people vote against their own interests when they support liberal Democratic candidates, contrary to the way they lead their own lives.

Granted, some percentage of Democratic voters are True Believers of liberal mantra, non-hypocritical followers of their chosen life philosophy. They walk their talk and for that, deserve a measure of unambiguous respect for their personal integrity.

However, many Democratic voters seem to vote more along emotional “rooting for a team” or “everyone I know has always voted this way” lines than by a purely logical analysis of which party platform most closely aligns with their life’s outlook. Many liberals simply find conservatives repulsive on an emotional/personal level and could never bring themselves to vote for them.

The Joy Behars of the world will never vote for the Donald Trumps of the world. The use of the name “Trump” here is merely a stereotype of the manner in which many liberals view many conservatives: middle-aged, white, male, cold-hearted, rough-edged, overly militaristic, still caught in the “old way” of thinking about women-minorities-gender issues, too pro-business, anti-environment, etc. Even if the Trumps were in virtually total agreement with all their positions, the Behars would then re-state their own positions so as to fabricate some technical difference between themselves and “Trump” and provide a publicly-defensible rationale to not support the conservative. The personal revulsion and loathing that a Behar feels for a Trump completely overrides any chance whatsoever of voting for a Trump under any circumstances for any reason. It’ll never happen, ever.

There are many basic beliefs that most people share that could be considered “conservative” in nature. These include:

  1. Hiring/advancement in professional endeavors or admission/attainment of scholastic grades should be based primarily on merit in most cases.


  1. Related to the above, as long as your company is abiding by Government-mandated minimum wage and employee safety requirements, you, as the owner, are free to offer whatever compensation and benefits you see fit. It’s your company.


  1. There needs to be a certain respect and decorum to public behavior, not “anything goes.” This is also known as the ‘7-80’ rule: If you’d cringe at your 7-yr old child or 80-yr old parent/grandparent hearing/seeing it, then the situation should be managed such that there is a reduced likelihood of that happening. You know these situations when you encounter them—don’t be obtuse.


  1. The populace should be orderly and law-abiding under normal circumstances and the presumption going in is that law enforcement/public safety personnel are there to assist and protect us, not oppress us.


  1. The country should have sufficient military forces to carry out its security obligations, without those activities being limited by the availability of forces or funding. The limit should be based on the appropriateness of such action as supported/denied by public and/or political will—not because we ‘don’t have it’ or ‘can’t afford it.’


  1. Environmental considerations should reflect a sane, rational balance between preserving our surroundings and contributing to a comfortable life. The two are not mutually exclusive. Most would agree that the decision to not divert river water for crop irrigation in CA—thereby putting life-long farmers out of business, eliminating employment for thousands of workers and curtailing the nation’s food supply for the sake of protecting the snail darter—does not constitute a “sane, rational” balance.


  1. The Federal Government should not impose arbitrary limits on personal success or the attainment of personal wealth, regardless of the lawfully-compliant manner by which that success or wealth is attained. It’s no one’s business but your own.


  1. The Federal Government should not impose limits on or restrict the ownership of acceptable (non-automatic) firearms for sporting or defensive use among citizens who have demonstrated that they meet specified legal background and mental stability requirements.


  1. Government should have an even-handed approach to the public display/practice of religion. One of this country’s founding tenets was the freedom of religious expression, which also includes the freedom of no expression and non-belief. But there is no implicit freedom from expression or from non-expression. As long as both sides are reasonable, non-intrusive and non-coercive in their activities, the public expression/non-expression of religion is fully protected.


There are many more, but in the interests of space and time, we’ll limit the list to the ones above. Yet even though many Democrats agree with these, they vote against them—and therefore against their own interests and beliefs in the process.


Which brings us back to the question—why?


There are four big reasons:

  1. The Democrats are their “team,” win or lose. Like watching the Red Sox struggle through their 1918-2004 86 years of futility, a life-long supporter of a particular political party is unlikely to break a long-standing emotional tie with that party. There are regional, cultural and personal things in play and maybe other factors as well. An “oh-so-sophisticated” secular Democratic Northeasterner, for example, may well feel an instinctive aversion to the clichéd image of a Southern-drawled bible-belt Evangelist, even if many of their overriding beliefs and philosophies overlap. Imprecise emotional reasons may be very difficult to identify and even harder to admit, but they are certainly a major causal factor. Donald Trumps’ raw-edged, too-direct personality rubs demure, elite coastal Liberals the wrong way, even if deep down in the private, never-admitted, nether regions of their own thoughts, they agree with many of his policy approaches.


  1. The abortion factor. Regardless of how many “subordinate” issues and philosophies a liberal might have in common with a conservative, no economic or employment or educational or national security issue will ever overcome a liberal’s strongly-held support-to-their-dying-day allegiance to abortion. To a liberal who supports anytime/anywhere/any reason abortion (which is not all liberals, but many of them), this issue supersedes all. Their personal sense of conscience or morality is outweighed and easily rationalized away by the degree of public humiliation or financial/societal hardship they’d suffer because of an “inconvenient” pregnancy. This humiliation and sense of inconvenience/interruption can and does affect Democrats at every stage in life—the single person of child-bearing age for any of several quite obvious reasons, a couple (whether married or not), the parent or grandparent or family friend or aunt/uncles, etc. who’d be ashamed or humiliated or embarrassed at this young person’s “predicament,” and how it reflected back on/impacted them.


Better to just “get rid of the problem” before anyone finds out, before it costs us real long-term money and before it upsets the applecart of our lives. No one needs to know and then we can just go on as if nothing happened. No one will be the wiser. Die-hard abortion advocates can and do make that trade every day—no other considerations, moral or otherwise, ever enter their thoughts. This is not a discussion about the pros and cons of abortion; it’s simply an observation of how that issue influences a liberal’s vote.


  1. The “But that’s the way my family has always voted” reason. This is peripherally related to 1., but is not the same. Whereas 1. is a regional/cultural/geographic thing (“I’ll never align myself with those redneck Southern hicks”), this one is more ethnic than regional. It’s especially true among Jewish voters, who tend to vote liberal/Democrat, regardless of where they live geographically. Jewish = Democrat, 85% of the time. “My family has always voted that way and I just can’t make my hand reach for the R lever. It feels disloyal, as if my grandmother is looking down from heaven and wincing.”


But Gram, the Republicans have a better foreign policy for Israel these days, and….

Ahh, Lester, policy-schmalicy, you know better……..


Ask a Jew to betray his late Grandmother’s expectations and memory. Can’t be done.


  1. The “Do as I say, but I’ve already got mine so it doesn’t apply to me” reason. For those of you old enough to remember politics in the 1960’s, this was known as the Limousine Liberal. People like Al Gore or Barbara Streisand preaching about climate/environmental issues, while they lead wildly excessive energy-wasteful lives are the modern-day examples of that.


A lifelong Democratic friend of mine who lives in CT—an individual entrepreneur whose own intrepid ambition and intelligence has netted him a well-deserved personal fortune (he’s sure happy about “reason g” above!)—says, “Sure, I’m happy to pay higher taxes, I can afford it. They should raise the taxes on everyone so there’s more to spread around.” Really? He might not feel so agreeable about higher taxes being the cure-all if he was not so well off. But since higher taxation won’t negatively impact him, he’s all too eager to impose it on others.

Whether it’s skirting environmental requirements and personal responsibility because of special privilege or getting their child into a favored school because the strings they can pull circumvent the usual affirmative-action quotas that apply to everyone else, or having personal bodyguards “packing heat” while they look to diminish others’ gun rights, it all falls under the umbrella of “Liberal Positions I’ll Support as Long as They Don’t Apply to or Negatively Impact Me.”

All four sections above are powerful and real reasons why many liberals will never vote conservative in spite of their de-facto support of many conservative positions. Emotionally/egotistically hamstrung Democratic voters will never admit to agreeing with anything conservative (“I don’t care what his positions are, I just don’t like him—he’s so…so… creepy) and will never have the emotional courage or intellectual honesty to change their “automatic Democrat” voting stance, even in the face of unequivocal factual information.

Actually, to a die-hard liberal Democrat, no facts are “unequivocal.” They’re all comfortably “relative,” subject to denial-on-a-whim, outright rejection and convenient re-interpretation, all for the purpose of fitting into a pre-determined liberal Democratic voting rationalization.