Thursday, May 26, 2011

Turkeys Voting for Christmas

Turkey is a traditional Christmas holiday meal in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. No one asks turkey birds themselves whether they believe Christmas is a good thing. If anyone was to put Christmas to a vote among turkeys, it is strongly assumed turkeys would vote Christmas out of existence.

This silly scenario gives rise to the idiom, "Turkeys voting for Christmas." In other words, this is an idiom for people voting against their own best interests, individually and as a group. This is usually brought up in the context of how people, as a rule, don't vote for something obviously against their own interests.

Example: "From the sublime to the ridiculous, Greek newspaper reports have it that Prime Minister George Papandreou has threatened to call a referendum on the austerity measures if he cannot secure political agreement. The story has been denied, but it demonstrates how desperate the situation has become. Mr Papandreou is in such a fix that he was thinking of relying on the idea that turkeys really would vote for Christmas." Original link here.

We are expected to take from this paragraph that Greek voters cannot be seriously expected to vote for more austerity measures (budget cuts, cuts in benefits to government employees, and so forth) to please the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and so forth. (Also note that "in such a fix" means in a desperate situation, i.e. a political stalemate with opposition parties.)

Put simpler, we can assume turkeys would not really vote in favor of Christmas, and that Greeks would not really vote in favor of more austerity, if either group was allowed a vote.

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