One of the things I spent a lot of time talking about in my many political science classes at UCLA was pocketbook voting. It is a practice that seems widespread and accepted. This practice is something I have never done. I have always voted for what I felt was best for the city, state or country at the time. So what exactly is pocketbook voting and what has it costs this country?
Pocketbook voting is the concept that people consistently vote not for their values but for the politician that will put money in their pocketbook. For instance, Blacks are very much social conservatives. They are historically very traditional, going to church more than their White counterparts. [http://www.pewforum.org/2009/01/30/a-religious-portrait-of-african-americans/] They are also more likely to be pro-life, for traditional marriage, etc. Yet when they vote, by and large, they don’t vote for parties that share those values but for Democrats who in many ways feed their pocketbook. Whether it is minimum wage jobs, affirmative action quotas or welfare, the Democrats have a myriad of ways to line the pockets of Blacks, rich and poor. So when they walk into the voting booth, they don’t vote those values that they hold in their heart. They vote their pocketbook. This is not meant to pick on Blacks, it is only an example.
Of course, political behavior on behalf of the electorate is not so easily defined. So while one cannot say that pocketbook voting is the sole reason people vote, polls have consistently proved that people cite the economy as their main concern in choosing a political representative. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that, when we completely forgo voting for our values we get a more corrupt society. While every half-decent statistician will tell you correlation doesn’t equal causation, a half-decent political scientist will look at that same information and say, “Yeah well, but majority rules.” Translation: Pocketbook voting doesn’t cause the corruption in society but it certain can contribute to it.
It does this in the following ways. 1) If people are neglecting their values in the voting booth they are probably neglecting them outside of it. If you consider yourself a Christian and Christ is not in the voting booth with you when you vote, it is unlikely he is walking with you the other times outside of it. I could get into that deeper but that is a whole other article. 2) “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” 1 Timothy 6:10. Whether or not you believe in God or not, this is a simple truth. Once you make money your god, you will do anything to obtain it. This will lead to all kinds of corruption. Not only within yourself but the environment around you as well. 3) Lastly, pocketbook voting encourages selfishness instead patriotism. Oh there are many so called patriots who tell you by thinking about the economy first and foremost, that gives people jobs and leads to less crime and a better society. Of course, if having money meant you didn’t commit crimes how do you explain O. J. Simpson who had plenty of money and killed his ex-wife? Or the Melendez brothers, who were loaded, and killed their parents? Or the millions of poor people who don’t commit crimes? It is not that simple. Poverty does not equal crime. But lack of values does. When you step into that voting booth, you are supposed to do what is best for the country not yourself.
In conclusion, in order to rebuild our nation we need focus on more than just mere pocketbook voting. A.better society is more just the economy. Do I want people to have jobs? Of course I do. I also want unborn children to be protected under the law and not sacrificed under choice. I also want children, all children, to have a real education and not mere indoctrination. I want sex slavery to be stopped all over the globe. I want a lot of things that cannot be achieved through pocketbook voting. After all, I am not a unborn child or a sex slave, so why should I care? I care because the minute I walk into that booth, I am not Dena. I am a U.S citizen, a daughter of God and a representative for good in this world. It is a heavy load but I carry it with pride. In doing this article I discussed it with my sister. She asked if I voted that way. I told her most certainly not. She said she did not as well. She said she voted according to social issues. I told her so do I. We come down on different side of those issues but we both voted according to what we feel is best for this country. We are patriots. We are patriots not because we come down on the same side of the political fence but because our countrymen come before us in that booth. We are patriots because we stand by our nation and not our pocktebooks.