There’s a liberal gene?
According to new research recently published in The Journal of Politics, yes. Subjects who possess the gene variant DRD4-- and who also led active social lives as adolescents-- tend to be more liberal in their politics.
Well, that clears up a few things. Like why I’m required to be bound and gagged before I’m allowed to attend my conservative-leaning family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Who thought it was a good idea to have Election Day take place right before Thanksgiving? Isn’t that just asking for trouble?
Now, follow me here. I was adopted as an infant, so if political leanings were resultant more of nurture than of nature, my parents certainly had plenty of time to inculcate their beliefs into me. It worked on my brothers, conservatives both. I, on the other hand, sent most of my kids’ college funds to the Obama campaign. Surely I must have been born this way! -- Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
I’ve always wondered how my political views could be so different from those of my family. During the 2008 presidential campaign, a close relative—whose identity I am sworn to protect, under threat of a poisoned brisket—forwarded to me a lot of those ‘Obama’s anti-Israel/a Socialist/a Muslim/a terrorist’ e-mails. No matter how many debunkings I sent her, she just wouldn’t stop.
But then I noticed the message that popped up with the confirmation of each online donation I made to Obama’s campaign: Would I like to have an e-mail notification of my contribution, along with a personal message from me, sent to anyone? Why, yes, I would! Here’s her e-mail address! My message? “Every time you send me another one of these crazy e-mails, I’m sending him more money.” She stopped sending the e-mails. I did not stop sending him money.
Back to the new research findings, though. The ‘active social life’ part seems to bear itself out. It explains why I’m a Facebook junkie while my brothers log on maybe twice a year. Even my mother uses it only to stalk her grandchildren, or to publicly shame me into calling by posting on my page something like, “Diana is deciding who should inherit all her jewelry now that her daughter has dropped off the face of the earth.”
So I’d like to think the reason my teenage kids’ political views are so progressive is that they went to school wearing T-shirts I bought them which announced their support for Al Gore, John Kerry or Barack Obama. Or because I talked to them about my politics while they were still getting the rest of their world view from Barney the Purple Dinosaur.
But I could be wrong. Maybe it’s for the same reason they have blond hair and blue eyes. Doesn’t matter. What matters is: They vote.
Jodie Remick is a writer who lives on New York's Long Island.