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A major pet peeve of mine in the world of politics is the phrase “voting against their own interests.” It’s usually used to indicate a sense of exasperation and disbelief on the part of the speaker that a certain group of voters is favoring a candidate or political party whom the speaker believes does not represent their best interests (see here, here, and here, for examples).
More specifically, it’s often used by Progressives to bemoan the tendency of some female voters and some of lower socioeconomic status to vote for Republicans. The insinuation is that Republicans are the “party of the rich” and they support policies that might jeopardize “women’s health” (i.e., abortion), therefore they should be universally rejected by certain classes of voters. The writers of these pieces struggle to explain this behavior and they usually settle for some combination of religious belief, small-mindedness, fear, and stupidity.
One explanation that never seems to cross the minds of those who write these pieces is that they themselves may have misidentified the “best interests” of the people on whose behalf they purport to be speaking. Put another way, it takes a special kind of arrogance to think that you are capable of defining the best interests of anyone other than yourself, much less large swathes of society. In fact, when these individuals attempt to define the “best interests” of others, they often assign those interests that drive their own behavior and choices.