Against Your Best Interest

This blog post is part political and part question. I started thinking about why people voted against their own best interest, right after our president took the oath of office.

My first true thought about this started when people living in those areas hardest hit by opioid addiction issues realized that they were going to potentially lose their health insurance if the ACA was repealed.

I personally believe that while the ACA is far from perfect, it has offered people that had no insurance the opportunity to have heath care,  perhaps for the first time in years. I would listen to news reports in which the people complained bitterly that they didn’t realize that the insurance they had was Obamacare, which they wanted repealed, or that they really didn’t think that our president would pull their insurance. This was someone else’s insurance issue.

Then there’s the story of the woman in the Midwest married to an illegal immigrant who voted for President Trump. As I recall, they’ve been married for quite a while, have children, own a business and a home, and pay taxes. Yet she voted for President Trump because he was going to, among other things, deport illegal immigrants. Somehow in her mind, deporting illegal immigrants meant deporting illegal immigrants except for her husband. He’s somehow exempt. Now her husband is being deported and she doesn’t think it’s fair. Their entire town believes it’s unfair and they, you guessed it,  voted mostly for President Trump.

Last week I had lunch with someone who told me he voted for Trump. He was warned by a friend not to vote for Trump and did it anyway and now is beginning to regret it. Why? Because he’s a federal worker who has now learned that our president plans on making good on a campaign promise to reduce the federal budget by cutting federal employment. My lunch companion was in receipt of OPM letters saying that many workers in the federal government were going to be offered early retirement packages in a first effort to reduce federal employment. My guess is that that is a first step in the reduction of federal employees. My lunch companion is upset.

So despite my hesitation in making our lunch a little too political, I said “but he promised that in his campaign”. My companion agreed, but didn’t believe it would happen. I had to do my best to not slap my forehead in disbelief.

Then this morning, while watching a piece on CBS Sunday Morning, I had yet another example of “them – not us”. The piece was about Appalshop, formed in 1969 in Appalachian Kentucky. Appalshop was formed with federal grant money in President Johnson’s War on Poverty. By all accounts, it’s an astounding success, but it gets, and relies on, federal funding through organizations such as the National Endowment of the Arts. President Trump is planning on cutting all arts funding. These people are upset.

But I’m sure you can guess what I’m going to say. The area of Kentucky that most benefits from this program voted for Trump.

And again I shook my head in disbelief.

There’s a part of me that thinks “Good. All of these people need to lose all of their benefits, their health care, their jobs. This is a lesson they need to learn.” Perhaps they need to hurt really badly. Lose their livelihoods, lose their insurance, their programs.

Yet, the other part of me, the part that these people call “snowflake” and “liberal” with a sneer, has more compassion for them than they apparently have for themselves. We cannot allow these programs to be cut. These people will be irreparably harmed. We will all be harmed but these people the most. Perhaps we need to treat them like children who do not understand the bigger picture and we have the responsibility to protect them from themselves.

So I fight against this.

Although I will not be having lunch with my lunch companion again. I don’t think I can listen to the complaining and hand-wringing with a straight face another time.

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