On September 18, 2014, the people of Scotland voted for or against a referendum granting their country independence from England. The outcome was that 55% of the voters chose to remain a part of the United Kingdom. This article will discuss that election, its result and what it means to you.
Let’s begin with some history.
Scotland and England developed as two separate countries, sharing a common border. In 1296 the English Kings began a series of wars to conquer and occupy Scotland. Historians describe the wars as the the First War of Independence, 1296 – 1328, and the Second War of Independence, 1332 – 1357.
After nearly a hundred years of brutal warfare, the battles ended in 1371. Scotland remained free and independent until 1707 when the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England were united by the Treaty of Union. The new realm was called the Kingdom of Great Britain.
The referendum of September 18th sought to restore Scotland as an independent nation. The desire for independence runs deep for any people. Yet, 55% of the Scots rejected independence. And the reason for that rejection was the power of dependence.
Here is some analysis. Young voters, age 16 – 34, voted 57% in favor of independence. And yes, 16 year olds were eligible to vote. But the votes of the young were overwhelmed by those who were over 65. They voted against the referendum by 73%.
Polls after the election found that most of those who voted against independence did so because they were dependent on the British welfare system. That system provides, pensions, the National Health Service, housing benefits, disability allowances, pension credits, income support, rent rebates, attendance allowances, jobseekers’ allowances, incapacity benefits, Council tax benefits, employment allowances, a social fund and care-givers’ allowances.
As Scots grew older, they became increasingly more dependent on the government. Eventually, they reached a point where their acquired dependence overruled their natural desire for independence. So, 73% of them voted to keep those things that they thought only the British welfare system could provide.
For the dependent voters of Scotland, the issues of history, culture, geography, economics, trade, natural resources, and education were of lesser importance than the welfare benefits that originate in London.
It is the story of Esau on a national scale.
Now, let’s expand the analysis. There are two primary groups of voters in Western democracies, dependent voters and altruistic voters. Since we have already discussed the dependent voters of Scotland, let’s look at altruistic voters.
According to academics, altruistic voters perceive that their individual ballot will not produce any discernible gain to them. But they vote nonetheless, because they believe that their ballots, when accumulated with the ballots of like-minded people, will produce good policy decisions. Put another way, the altruistic voter is casting his or her ballot based on a perceived benefit to society rather than themselves.
You can see the stark difference between the dependent voter and the altruistic voter. One set of voters is looking inward, while another set of voters is looking outward.
Now I ask, which one are you?
Ken Adams is the Chairman of the Waynesboro Virginia Republican Committee.