Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why Are We Liberal or Conservative?

In an article published in the Boston Globe just before the election, November 2, 2008, authored by Eve LaPlante, it is reported that scientists are discovering our political leanings may be powerfully influenced by genetics. It was reported that: "...unconscious reaction to threat - how much we startle at frightening images and noise - determine our political views...". Kevin Smith, a University of Nebraska political scientist who co-authored the study which appeared in the "Journal of Science", states: "Political reactions are gut responses rather than rational weighing of pros and cons".

If this is true, it certainly explains a lot. You can never seem to debate somebody long enough to get them to change their mind. I guess my blog won't change any one's mind. That's OK though, progressive thinking people need ways to connect with their own ideas. They certainly can't go to radio talk shows in this state, all they'll find is aggravation. At least liberals now have an outlet on MSNBC at night.

How do I stack up in all of this? My Dad must have had conservative genes (he was from the South), - my Mom must have had liberal genes (she was from Boston). I'm not gun shy. I never startled when a gun is discharged even if I didn't expect it. I've been a hunter all of my life and I believe in gun rights. I guess I should be leaning conservative.

I can point to a moment in my life when my political leanings were cast forever. May 4, 1970 and the shootings at Kent State University. I supported John Kennedy as a kid, but heck, I was only 10. When the Vietnam war started to rage I was supportive of efforts to reign in the Communists. Then one day, something happened. I learned that our Country had been bombing Cambodia without Congressional knowledge - Richard Nixon had been hiding the truth.
I was embarrassed and I had many students telling me, "we told you so". You see, I was one of those students that stood up at campus workshops on Vietnam and spoke in favor of the Nixon Administration. At one point, I held up a copy of the "Communist's Daily Worker" newspaper (yes, you could find these on college campuses in 1970) and called pure propaganda its headline, "Nixon Bombs Cambodia". I told students that this is simply not true as the story would be in the Boston Globe; after all, we have a free press. Many months later, the country learned of Nixon's secret bombing campaign in a neutral country without Congressional knowledge.

I felt a seismic shift in my political thinking on May 4, 1970 and my political destiny was cast in stone. I quit ROTC at the end of the semester and still got my A. I had been lied to by my President and was made a fool for supporting him. That was it; I worked for George McGovern in 1972 and never looked back. I guess it took powerful images at a troubling time to make me a liberal. I don't think that genes played a role.

The bright side in of all of this is that if genes are involved, maybe somebody can develop a pill to cure the problem. My god, I hope liberals come up with the pill first!

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