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Friday, July 11, 2014

Edsall says politics is genetic

Liberal journalist Thomas B. Edsall writes about electoral demographics in the NY Times, and he complains that poor white voters cannot always be induced to vote Democrat by offering them free government benefits. So he asks How Much Do Our Genes Influence Our Political Beliefs?

He says research suggests that Republicans have pro-family genes, while Democrats have anti-family genes:
Working along a parallel path, Amanda Friesen, a political scientist at Indiana University, and Aleksander Ksiazkiewicz, a graduate student in political science at Rice University, concluded from their study comparing identical and fraternal twins that “the correlation between religious importance and conservatism” is “driven primarily, but usually not exclusively, by genetic factors.” The substantial “genetic component in these relationships suggests that there may be a common underlying predisposition that leads individuals to adopt conservative bedrock social principles and political ideologies while simultaneously feeling the need for religious experiences.”

From this perspective, the Democratic Party — supportive of abortion rights, same-sex marriage and the primacy of self-expressive individualism over obligation to family — is irreconcilably alien to a segment of the electorate. And the same is true from the opposite viewpoint: a Republican Party committed to right-to-life policies, to a belief that marriage must be between a man and a woman, and to family obligation over self-actualization, is profoundly unacceptable to many on the left.

If these predispositions are, as Friesen and Ksiazkiewicz argue, to some degree genetically rooted, they may not lend themselves to rational debate and compromise.
I should note that a trait being heritable does not necessarily mean that it is immutable.

Edsall previously argued that most people do not realize the extant that the USA is being taken over by non-whites and non-Christians who reliably vote Democrat. He says that when whites find out, they are more likely to vote Republican.

Now he cites a couple of liberal Harvard experts suggesting that political divisions could be genetic:
Dustin Tingley, a professor of government at Harvard, argues that “phenomena perennially hard to explain in standard political science become clearer when human interactions are understood in light of natural selection and evolutionary psychology.”

In an email, Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard and the author of “The Blank Slate,” makes the case for continued research in the broader field of evolutionary psychology and in the sub-field of politics and heritable temperamental traits. ...

Pinker contends that “an acknowledgment of the possibility of genetic differences is a game-changer for countless specific issues. If people differ genetically in conscientiousness, intelligence, and other psychological traits, then not all differences among people in social and economic outcomes are automatically consequences of a rigged system.”
Pinker cautiously says "if", but Edsall explains that twin studies do show that genes influence those psychological traits.

He ends the column being defensive about raising the question. After all, someone might deduce that Democrats are strategically flooding the USA with people who are culturally and genetically predisposed to reject traditional American family values and to vote Democrat.

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