Donald Trump, Brexit and neoliberal politics were some of the topics covered by Mark Blyth, professor of political economy at Brown University, when he spoke to students, staff and members of the community. local University of Nebraska-Lincoln Tuesday evening October 10.
The event titled “Why People Vote for Those Who Work Against Their Best Interests” was part of the EN Thompson Forum on Global Issues held at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. It was opened with a pre-performance lecture by Kevin Smith, chair of the political science department at UNL.
Smith said the US Congress has an approval rating of 16 percent, comparable to the approval rating of Vladimir Putin, the current President of Russia, at 13 percent.
Smith said it gives credence to the idea that people sometimes vote against their own interests. To illustrate this point, he gave the example of Grant County, Nebraska.
Grant County has the highest percentage of Affordable Care Act registrants in the country. One in three people under the age of 65 purchased insurance through the Health Care Act of former President Barack Obama. Donald Trump received more than 93% of the vote cast in Grant County last November, a candidate who has repeatedly vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Smith provided many rational reasons for why people can vote against their interests: None of the candidates available can match their views, people tend to vote for parties rather than individuals, and some voters consciously vote for. a candidate to send a message, not to serve. their interests.
Blyth, the evening’s keynote speaker, joked that the title of the presentation was created without his input and that citizens are actually voting in their own best interests.
“I think the idea of you knowing better than that person what’s in their best interests is incredibly pretentious,” Blyth said.
Blyth, who predicted events such as Britain’s exit from the European Union and the election of Donald Trump, focused on the causes and solutions to the rise of populist ideas around the world.
Blyth claims that the reason populism has seen such a resurgence in the world is because of the increase in neoliberal economic policies that were put in place during the 1980s. He said this has led to many economic problems such as high debts, low wages and low inflation being unable to eat away at debts.
These problems have resulted in the poorest individuals feeling left behind and forgotten by their governments. Blyth said after so many politicians claimed to care about them but failed to resolve the issue, voters felt betrayed. He said he believed this was the reason Trump was elected, as a way to send a message that they will no longer be ignored.
Blyth said that in general, the Liberals blame these problems on capitalism, while the Conservatives blame them on immigration.
“Immigration is the solution, not the problem,” Blyth said.
Immigration, according to Blyth, increases the population that can be taxed to ease debt pressure. He also said that capitalism was not to blame, as it worked long before the rise of neoliberal politics.
Blyth offered probable solutions to these problems. He said that free tuition, subsidized child care and a single-payer healthcare system, if adopted, would effectively end populism.
The ideas and data presented by Blyth have caused some UNL students to reassess how they view world politics. Christy Cooper, a second year agricultural education major, who was in attendance, said we need to look at everyone’s perspectives, not just our own.
“We tend to put things in averages, like [how] immigration on average helps an economy, ”Cooper said. “But people don’t live average; they live through their own personal experiences and stories.
Second-year environmental science student Halle Ramsey said it helped her get the big picture.
“There are a lot of countries going through a Trump-like event,” Ramsey said. “The media sometimes present it as if it is just a problem for us. We have to keep in mind that all of this has a global impact.
Blyth ended the evening with a message of hope for the spectators.
“I believe the time of change is coming when those who were once laughed at for their ideas will soon be adopted for their genius,” said Blyth.