From the NY TIMES op-ed page, July 26, by Daniel Mendelsohn:
The startling discovery that affiliation with the Republican party is
genetically determined, announced by scientists in the current issue of the
journal Nurture, threatens to overshadow the announcement by Government
scientists that there might be a gene for homosexuality in men.
Reports of the gene that codes for political conservatism, discovered after
a long study of quintuplets in Orange County CA, has sent shock waves
through medical, political and golfing communities.
Psychologists and psychoanalysts have long believed that Republicans'
unnatural and frequently unconstitutional tendencies result from unhealthy
family life--a remarkably high percentage of Republicans had authoritarian,
domineering fathers and emotionally distant mothers who didn't teach them
how to be kind and gentle. But biologists have long suspected that
conservatism is inherited. "After all" said one author of the Nurture
article, "It's quite common for a Republican to have a brother or sister
who is a Republican."
The finding has been greeted with relief by parents and friends of
Republicans, who have tended to blame themselves for the political views of
otherwise lovable people--their children, friends and unindicted
One mother, a longtime Democrat, clasped her hands in ecstasy on hearing of
the findings. "I just knew it was genetic," she said, seated beside her two
sons, both avowed Republicans. "I just knew nobody would actually CHOOSE
that lifestyle!" When asked what the Republicans' lifestyle was, she said,
"Well, you can just tell from watching TV, like at the convention in
Houston: the loud outfits, the flaming xenophobia, the flamboyant
Both sons said they had suspected their Republicanism from an early age but
did not confirm it until in college, when they became convinced it wasn't
just a phase they were going through.
Despite the near certainty of the medical community about Republicanism's
genetic origins, troubling issues remain. The Nurture article offered no
response to the suggestion that the startlingly high incidence of
Republicanism among siblings could result from the fact that they share not
only genes but also psychological and emotional attitudes, being the
products of the same parents and family dynamics.
And it remains to be explained why so many avowed Democrats are known to
vote Republican occasionally--or at least known to fantasize about doing
so. Polls show that at three out of five Democrats admit to having had a
Republican experience. In well-adjusted people, however, this
experimentation rarely outlasts adolescence.
Surprisingly, some Republican activists hail the findings as a step forward
rather than as an invitation to more conservophobia. They argue that since
Republicans didn't "choose" their unwholesome life style any more than
someone "chooses" to have a ski-jump nose, they shouldn't be denied civil
rights to which normal people are entitled.
Other Republicans, recalling 19th century scientific studies that "proved"
the mental inferiority of blacks, find the frenzied search for the
biological cause of Republicanism pointless if not downright sinister.
But for most real Americans, the discovery opens a window on a brighter
tomorrow. In a few years, gene therapy could eradicate Republicanism
If conservatism is not the result of sheer orneriness (as many suspect) but
is something Republicans can't help and probably don't even like, there's
no reason why we shouldn't tolerate Republicans in the military or even
high elected office--provided they don't flaunt their political beliefs.