Republicans can be cured!

Daniel Mendel

August 11, 1993|By Daniel Mendel

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, Calif., have sent shock waves through the 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 co-conspirators.

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 life style!"

When asked what the Republican life style 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 demagogy -- you know."

Both sons said they had suspected their Republicanism from an early age but did not confirm it until they were 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 incidences 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 to fantasize about doing so. Polls show that three out of five adult Democrats admit to having 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 altogether.

If conservatism is not the result of sheer orneriness (as many suspected) but is something Republicans can't help and probably even don't 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.

Daniel Mendelsohn writes from Princeton, N.J.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.