Frank Thomas, the (in)famous author of What's the Matter with Kansas?, is perplexed why Kansans consistently vote against their self-interest (as defined by Thomas). He's wrong, obviously. Kansas voted in Republicans for the Governorship, both Senators, and all four Representatives (you don't even want to see how decisively they swept the state house) hoping to further their self-interest. Fortunately, none of them support small government. They're anti-free market (witness massive subsidy programs), love interventionalist policies (Iraq, anyone?), and siphon wasteful pork barrel spending to the state every year by propping up Boeing and Raytheon. Increasing the Pentagon's budget is awesome as far as Wichita and Riley County are concerned. Don't even get me started on Cuban policy (boycotts for everything except wheat!) and foreign food aid. We don't vote against our interests because we simply don't vote conservative - he just doesn't like that we don't vote Democratic. And yes, I still sent in my Kansas absentee ballot this year.
It seriously benefits Kansas to vote for big government Republicans. If you subtract taxes paid from federal funds received, Kansas gets over 19K more than it pays in taxes PER PERSON. We don't even have 3 million people (ranking 33rd), but rank 25th in payments from the federal government. You know who pays more in taxes than they get? Democratic voting states. We totally vote to give ourselves money all the time - we just don't want to share it.
I'm amazed at how many educated people have actually read this book. Not only read it, but were impacted by it. I tell academic Democrats that I'm from Kansas, and a solid 50% of them mention this book. The myriad converses are not true (e.g., conservatives do not care to mention this book, taxi drivers do not mention this book, etc.) I've never read a book about another state's politics; my birthplace is obviously more interesting than yours. I went to listen to Thomas speak while attending Washburn. He's smarter than I am. It's not that he said anything profound, but I could hear it in his tone. When people talk down to you, they're operating on a higher level. They're also not pro-democracy. "The best argument against democracy is a 5 minute conversation with the average voter." - Winston Churchill