Political Decision-Making

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

How do you decide who to vote for? Is there one issue that determines which candidate you side with? Are you loyal to one party over another? Andrew Westen, professor of psychology at Emory University and the author of The Political Brain joins us in taking listeners' calls on what's influencing their vote this election season.

Call us at 212-433-9692 to tell us what influences how you vote! Or leave a comment below!


Andrew Westen

Comments [12]

jawbone from Parsippany

After seeing two inexperienced politicians sold to the American public as Brand Images, Bush and Obama -- and the were elected! -- I have decided I will not vote for someone just based on what they say. They must have demonstrated how they will work for people, how they will vote on difficult issues. There must be some "there" there.

They must have actual experience.

Now, can I stick to that? Remains to be seen. Would I have voted for Corzine as US Senator under these strictures? Hhhhhmmmm... But, while I thought he made a great senator, representing my values pretty well, and that he should not have quit to run for governor, I thought he would be a better governor than his competition. And much better than Christie.

Elections sure have consequences, as schools and libraries and loss of real estate property rebates are showing all too clearly here in NJ. Our current governor feels it would be wrong to raise taxes on the Uberwealthy, but on the rest of us? The poor, the unemployed, the retired just making it? The middle class facing possible job losses? Meh, no problem increasing their taxes. There are just so darn many of us in the underclasses!

I did feel I'd learned enough about how Obama tended to walk things back when he made liberal and progressive promises to decide to not support him. I hoped I was wrong on that, but, being from a state which was going to vote for him, I felt free to vote for an actual liberal for president.

Will I be able to stick with requiring demonstrated experience. To be determined.

Sep. 01 2010 02:44 PM
jawbone from Parsippany

Cont'd from below:

No, we get Anthony Weiner making great statements destined for YouTube about forcing a vote on single payer health CARE (not Big Health Insurance and Big PhRMA profit protection plans), then not even getting (or demanding) the up or down vote he was promised. There was Dennis Kucinich swearing he would never support the Obama insurance rescue plan, then flying on Air Force One and having a change of mind and even whipping for Obama's plan on the floor of the House. We get some good talk about doing something to manage global warming, but that too is stymied by corporate interests...on both sides of the aisle.

As Dean Baker wrote recently (link at end), why haven't our politicians represented our interests? Because they don't work for US -- they have other bosses, the ones who make the big donations which are needed to get them elected.

Why are people discouraged about Obama? Because they believed he would bring change for them, he would make a difference. He would not be Bush III, which he seems bent on being. That he would not work as a Republican.

Instead, he worked for keeping the Big Banksters whole and ignored the little people in their little houses with their little jobs...or no jobs. Trillions went to banksters - and Obama set up a HAMP program which actually ends up hurting most of the applicants more than they were already hurt. All to keep the supply of foreclosed houses slowed so the Banksters could better wind down their losses. Or at least keep their books looking good longer. Sheesh.

*Dean Baker, "When Wall Street Rules, We Get Wall Street Rules"

Sep. 01 2010 02:31 PM
jawbone from Parsippany

I haven't found any Republicans in the current crop who in any way represent my values and principles.

Increasingly, it's getting harder and harder to find Democrats who actually represent and ACT on my values which I thought the Democratic Party used to represent.

I thought I was pretty realistic: I was against LBJ's tragic mistake in getting us deeply into the Veitnam War, but I also realized he had the best interests of many Americans at heart and worked to get those protected with his Medicare, Medicaid, Voting Act, and other Great Society liegislation.

I appreciated Carter's international stands for human rights, but did he begin the slide into corporate takeovers of our nation?

I look back at Bill Clinton, and, since Obama has opened my eyes to the intense Corporatism in Dem leadership, I have had to reevaluate Clinton's presidency. He did some things which have undermined the ability of those not in the elite and upper socio-economic levels to make a decent living, made it harder for businesses which are not huge multinational corporations to compete. He and Hillary tried to "pre-negotiate" with the health care players and Republicans, and they lost the battle for health CARE in the '90's. Were they too conciliatory of Big Health Industry Players? Should they have begun with single payer and reached possible compromise?

Clinton also did some things which resulted in real wages rising for the first time in decades. His corporatism seemed balanced by a genuine caring for those not among the powerful. Alas, he didn't do enough, and even his accomplisment of managing the US deficit was totally trashed by George Bush the Younger.

I do not see a balance of this corporatism in Obama. I see Democratis in Congress either working full bore for corporatist interests, aiding and abetting Obama, or they are unable to stand up for the needs and interests of the non-powerful. Obama took from the Clintons' health CARE attempt that he should not only pre-negotiate away single payer ("off the table," he proclaimed early and often), but he should negotiate with Big Health Players behind closed doors, then strong arm those agreements through the Democractic Congress.

So, I am looking for a party which will take on entrenched powers, will represent the needs of the rest of us. I used to think the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party was going to finally gain numbers and help us out here, the non-wealthy, the slipping middle class, the unemployed. Didn't happen.

Sep. 01 2010 02:29 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Here, there and everywhere

PS - We need more democracy on WNYC, i.e., take more calls from your well informed and educated listeners. Believe it or not they are collectively smarter then you (though not smarter than Jefferson). You have become an effete little dictator, in love with the sound of your ever aging and faltering voice and thoughts (so 1960s & 70s). You also need to do more coverage of challengers to incumbents. WNYC has become a propaganda tool of the elite left and its license should be challenged. WNYC does not serve or represent the metro area community well in its coverage or staff; despite attempts at improvement in the latter category.

Sep. 01 2010 02:21 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Here, there and everywhere

People will be voting on the failed foreign and domestic policies of the regime and its minions in Congress. We need tax cuts to stimulate the economy. We need across the board cuts in all Gov’t spending. This regime is making all the mistakes that FDR made and more - mistakes that extended the Depression and that are extending this grave recession.

Sep. 01 2010 02:12 PM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

Democrats do not want to say that they are on the side of working people because they are constantly afraid of the "socialist-communist-Marxist" tag as applied by the right-wing, even when it is demonstrably false. There are virtually NO socialists in the USA (maybe some social democrats), let alone communists. Only foolish people would believe otherwise...

Sep. 01 2010 01:56 PM

I'm voting against every incumbent. They had their chance, they have accomplished nothing. As for AG Cuomo, as a life long democrat it pains me to see him get this far. He was evil incarnate as the head of HUD and no better as the AG. He has lined the big box lenders pockets and they in turn have lined his campaign chest. There is nothing above board about Andy..

Sep. 01 2010 01:51 PM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

Your guest is correct and confirms what _Bill Maher_ has been stating since Obama has taken office - Republicans never feel pity for any opponents and always happily force things through with no apologies while Democrats feel the need build consensus.

Maher had been saying that the ONE thing that Obama could learn from GW Bush was his righteous swagger, and heedless approach to policy making.

Sep. 01 2010 01:50 PM
Joseph from Brooklyn

I'm a member of the Freelancer's Union, and will support their slate, as long as it doesn't compromise my values. Being liberal, I generally vote democratic, but have crossed party lines to vote for candidates whom I feel are stronger. In this election, on the State level, given the appalling behavior in Albany in recent years, I plan to carefully look at the records of any candidates I consider, to determine whether they behaved in the interest of the people they represent, or in their own.

Sep. 01 2010 01:48 PM
Anon for political reasons from Jersey City

1. Do I know 'em? If there have been personal contacts, do these help support my belief about the politician's potential in office.

2. Party affiliation and the political landscape. Since most offices don't have great power in their own right, who does this candidate play with? Does their party need strengthening or chastening?

3. Positions and potential. Do their claims match up with what I want to see them do? And do they have the ability to actually get some of them done? If they're an incumbent, how's their performance (in every respect: integrity, advancing their and my issues, constituent services)?

Sep. 01 2010 01:47 PM
Laura from Manhattan

I love negative ads if they are TRUE.

What I detest are ads which lie and obfuscate -- the prime example being the one which portrayed a Vietnam veteran triple amputee as weak on Defense issues.The ad was run by someone who never served in the military. (If I remember correctly).....

Another example -- Mosque at Ground Zero is not a mosque and it is a hike up the road and around the corner rather than at Ground Zero

Sep. 01 2010 01:43 PM
Laura from Manhattan

Workplace Safety is my litmus test for politicians. Democrats have made workplaces safer; Republicans mistakenly imagine that voluntary standards are good enough and that the boss knows best. This has been a life-altering issue for me. (May it never happened to you!).

I look for dedication to real issues, kitchen table issues that affect the vast majority of people. I avoid candidates to lie and obfuscate and who engage in demagoguery about divisive, hot-button emotional issues which, in the end, are mostly a sideshow.

I also look at who has endorsed the candidates and where they get their support.

When possible it's helpful to meet candidates in person and size them up, watch how they interact with a variety of people. I like to see who candidates surround themselves with--it can be so refreshing to meet enthusiastic young people on campaign staffs who care about other people, who care about the environment, and who have a realistic view of the political process.

Sep. 01 2010 12:41 PM

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