The Portland Phoenix

Politics & Other Mistakes: Other people’s problems

If Maine Democrats get whomped in next week’s election, they can blame their loss on their own fundamental misreading of what voters want.

They don’t much care about protecting legal abortion, particularly if they’re male or past child-bearing age.

They’re not as worried about climate change as political experts claim they are.

Health care is no big deal for people who aren’t sick or low-income.

A housing shortage doesn’t really affect anybody who owns their own domicile. In fact, it makes those homes more valuable.

Drug overdoses? Not an issue that gets discussed in nice neighborhoods.

Civil rights? Maybe nobody told the Dems the state is mostly composed of folks who are white, heterosexual and old – in other words, citizens able to hire their own lawyers if somebody discriminates against them.

Detect a pattern? Republicans certainly did. Here’s what they figured out that escaped the donkey party’s brain trust:

The electorate is overwhelmingly composed of people who are selfish. And what selfish people care about almost exclusively is the money in their bank accounts.

Sure, high inflation has an impact on everybody, even the non-selfish minority. But it disrupts the lifestyle of the wealthy in ways the rest of us can only imagine. They may have to wait an extra year to replace one of the Teslas. The tennis courts will be slightly less playable if they don’t get resurfaced. They may have to get by with fewer servants at their getaway in Aruba. Fortunately, scientific studies prove they’ll suffer no long-term health problems if the Pappy Van Winkle is only 10 years old instead of 15.

Likewise, for most of the middle class, soaring prices are an annoyance that falls well short of being life-threatening. They may have to cancel their Netflix subscription. A few less lattes from Starbucks each week. No winter vacation in warmer climes this year. And the kids may have to work their way through college by flipping burgers or plowing driveways. Which means they won’t graduate until they’re 40, and they won’t pay off their student loans until just before they retire.

Unpleasant, sure, but not devastating.

Nevertheless, these economic annoyances are more than sufficient to motivate the selfish bloc to cast their ballots for the GOP, because that party claims to have some kind of plan to put more money in their 401(k) by cutting taxes (inflationary), gutting social services (short-sighted), putting more people in prison (expensive) and burning books about transgender athletes (won’t bring down the high cost of heating oil).

The one class of potential voters most impacted by soaring prices – poor people – aren’t likely to switch their allegiance from Democrats to Republicans because they never had any such allegiance to begin with. They hardly ever voted when the economy was in good shape, and they have no time for such esoteric pursuits now that they’re desperately trying to put food on the table or keep a roof over their heads.

It turns out the underprivileged are every bit as selfish as their economic superiors. They just engage in a somewhat more practical form of selfishness inspired not by acquisitiveness, envy, greed or meanness of spirit, but by a primitive urge to survive the imminent threats of starving or freezing to death.

To summarize, the folks who actually vote – the rich and the wanna-be rich – are annoyed at Democrats for allegedly causing this economic disruption and don’t care if the GOP wins the Blaine House, the 2nd Congressional District seat and both chambers of the Legislature. As long as Republicans pretend they’re doing something about inflation, the self-absorbed majority is willing to ignore the pachyderm party’s plans to ban abortions, crank up greenhouse gases, kick sick people off Medicaid and meddle with bathrooms and books that don’t conform to traditional views of gender identity.

The blame for such social upheaval can’t really be laid on the GOP. They’re only going to do what they said they’d do. A fairer assessment would show the actual cause was Democrats’ refusal to acknowledge how important economic issues are to the most likely – and most selfish – voters.

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