M. B. Mathews has posted something of a cri de coeur at American Thinker:
There has been a huge influx of blue state people to red states in the past three years.
This is a good thing because the Democrat voters, the blues, see what is happening in their own states and want nothing more to do with it.
There is only one problem: do blue-staters know why their blue states are failing? They may only be seeing the results of the failures such as high taxes, high crime, authoritarian shutdowns, masking, education pathologies, high gas prices, empty shelves, welfare hounds, and business-unfriendly policies that cause small business closures. But the causes are liberal policies and liberal politicians. Do blue-staters make that connection?
Moving to a red state is a relief for blue staters, but if they cannot connect their blue state pathologies to voting for Democrats, they are again going to vote for the same party that gave them their blue state blues. It is imperative that blue-staters recognize that escaping to a red state to avoid blue state problems will do them no good if they persist in voting for Democrats, who, at first opportunity, will vote for the same blue policies they left their blue states to avoid. It is imperative that every blue-stater who is not Republican not vote Democrat if they enjoy red state living.
Well, yes. The logic is unassailable. But “logic is a feeble reed,” Gentle Reader. Even if the blue-to-red-state migrants are aware of the connection, the majority of them will continue to vote Democrat. Your Curmudgeon is here to tell you why.
Political affiliation is seldom the consequence of having thought things through. A huge fraction of the voting populace – possibly the majority thereof – chooses a political affiliation for reasons other than unclouded knowledge of the policies the chosen party has enacted and would enact. There’s an old story about Teddy Roosevelt on the campaign trail in 1912, on the Bull Moose ticket, that’s to the point:
Teddy was giving one of his campaign speeches when a man in the audience jumped up and shouted, “I’m a Democrat! My father was a Democrat! My grandfather was a Democrat, and his father before him!”
Roosevelt, a hard man to confound, replied at once, “Well, Mister, if your father was a jackass, your grandfather a jackass, and your great-grandfather a jackass, what would that make you?”
But the shouter had a reply ready: “A Bull-Mooser, sir! A Bull-Mooser!”
As in the story above, a great many persons vote for party X because it’s always been their parents’ choice. That transmission of affiliation from parent to child might seem irrational – it is irrational — but it happens and persists through the generations even so. I’ve known several cases of this.
Then there’s the “feel” of the chosen party. This is a harder thing to grapple with, being largely formless. Sometimes it arises from party propaganda that’s been carefully designed to occlude the party’s positions and the consequences of its policies. In other cases it’s a matter of associations between the party and specific persons. My first wife, a brilliant woman of many high attainments, voted Democrat because “they put the people first.” My father and his sisters all voted Republican out of their contempt for bums, druggies, and welfare seekers. Draw your own conclusions.
A third motivator is access to particular social and commercial circles. People who share a political affiliation will tend to socialize and do business with one another, while avoiding those of other affiliations. This is an extremely important consideration to the “climber:” the individual who seeks to rise socially or commercially. It often has consequences that go beyond his voting patterns.
Finally, there’s one’s personal desire for political power. He who prioritizes it will go where it’s most likely to become available to him. Yes, Gentle Reader: there are politicians who choose their party according to how likely it is that that party will get them elected, or will assist them in advancing further. The late Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania is an egregious case for study. Jim Jeffords of Vermont is another. The late John V. Lindsay, once the mayor of New York City, is yet another. It’s the same as carpetbagging, really.
Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl, add dollars, “image engineers,” and campaign workers, and whip until smooth.
I’ve known persons whose political affiliations arose from each of the four influences above. It’s not really baffling, considering how averse most of us are to actually thinking things through. Besides, personal considerations will always trump more diffuse attachments, loyalties, and perceived duties; that’s at the heart of Public Choice analysis. So while I agree with M. B. Mathews about what “should” happen to the voting preferences of blue-to-red migrants, I wouldn’t advise him to put a lot of money on it. The motivators above, some of which are almost never addressed in political campaigns, have a power with which far too many analysts are unable to grapple.