I often think about how I ended up with the political and social beliefs that I have. I’m generally on the left, as is most of my immediate family. My early teachers were of that persuasion too. We’re all good Democrats.
But I have some cousins whom I generally like and was close with as a child, and as far as I know they’re all Republicans. In personality, they’re a lot like me, but they hold different opinions.
As far as I can tell, the reason for this is that my grandfather married a free-spirited art student (my grandmother) while his brother married a more strait-laced, churchgoing woman (my great-aunt). Those two ladies’ outlooks became the templates for the next two generations.
So if I had been switched at birth with one of my cousins, would I be the Republican and he the Democrat? I suspect so.
My parents were old-line New Deal Democrats. So am I, but I have one sister who’s a Republican and another who swings wildly back and forth between left and right (usually depending on her economic status.)
My parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. are all deeply conservative. My brother and I are both so liberal I think my parents probably cry themselves to sleep at night. My brother was pretty conservative until he graduated college and started supporting himself, at which point his politics changed pretty rapidly even though he makes really good money. I, on the other hand, have always thought my parents were wrong about politics even before I knew what politics were. When I was a kid my mom took me to see Fern Gully. She was complaining as we left that the producers didn’t know what they were talking about and that we need to consider the money that comes along with logging as being just as important as the environment and even at a fairly young age (I must have been 5 or 6 I think) I remember thinking she was very, very wrong.
Agreed. I think it is something like 90% upbringing, and perhaps 10% later influences. (Like reading Atlas Shrugged when in high school… Or, in my case, reading The Feminine Mystique when in high school.)
Who was it – a Jesuit, wasn’t it? – who famously (?) said that if he were given control of a boy’s education, the boy would be Catholic all the rest of his life? I think there is a lot of truth in that: upbringing counts for nearly all.
Interesting how mid-20th century women seemed to lead their husbands around by the nose, politics-wise. Especially considering pre-sufferage critics who claimed the broads would just vote the way the husbands told them to.
My dad grew up an Irish-German Catholic Democrat and union member. My mom’s father was a small businessman in a small town just south of Cleveland, and a good Republican as Republicans went in those days, hating income tax, labor unions, and people (blacks and immigrants) on welfare and shaking his fist at that god damn Bolshevik Jew Roosevelt in the White House.
My parents got married in 1944 while dad was in the Army; mom traveled with him to various US bases in Texas and Alaska and got left behind when he was shipped off to Europe. She popped out my (much) older sisters in 1945 and 1948.
After VJ Day she whipped him into shape, by god. By the time I came around in late 1960, he was a staunch Republican and a member of the Methodist Church. LBJ’s New Society, combined with his innate dislike of blacks and Jews (unless they were personal friends – he was urbane – then they became the “good kind”) made him a solid Nixon Man. He also had no ear for music or poetry and no eye for art.
I was a teen in the '70s, reading Vonnegut, Kesey, and the Beats and listening to jazz, Mahler, and the Grateful Dead, which led me to Emma Goldman and the Wobblies, which cemented me as a wild-haired anarchist-atheist-nihilist-Buddhist, albeit with New Deal sympathies.
Dad and I never talked politics during his declining years, but we were both aficionados of cribbage, so we played a lot of it together.
For instance, I think Pubs (in general, disclaimer blah blah) score higher on vengeance, and honor, and family, and lower on intellectual curiosity. Also lower on romance, because in this system, a love of the arts correlates with a love of beauty and sex for sex’ sake.
Those traits, are up to a point, hereditary and predispose to one or the other. The rest is cultural immersion and upbringing.
Not a hell of a lot, my experiences as an adult shaped them more.
I grew up in a working class family, Dad was a strong believer in unions and the Australian Labor part so I grew up going along with that. Until I moved to the city when I was 19 and started working.
Working in a Human Resources role I got close quarters views of how the unions and some of the people worked and I didn’t like what I saw. I don’t dislike unions in general, as I’ve had a number of positive experiences of good pragmatic people working hard for what they believe in, but I’ve also had enough experiences of arsewipes to have totally lost the idealism I had as a youth.
I had a few fights with Dad over that when I was younger and to his credit he was prepared to take onboard my views because the practical experience was outside of his, but we reasonably quickly just put that discussion point to one side.
So I’m more right wing than my father although I still consider myself centre as I hold some right wing views and some left. I also don’t vote for a political party out of any allegiance i vote for whoever I think has the best policies at the time. Dad was rusted on Labor, I’m of the opinion that supporting a political party like a sporting team is dumb.
Except dad’s parents were very religious. They still voted Democrat. But then grandma died and grandpa got re-married to someone even more religious and I believe he started voting Republican mostly based on the abortion issue.
My dad is a retired auto worker so we were always Democrats. His brother was one of those “Christian hippie” types and even though he is poor as fuck and will always be poor as fuck, he’s a Republican. I think my cousins are too, even though they are also poor as fuck and one is even married to an actual illegal alien (he’s here illegally after being deported).
Anyway, I’m a bleeding heart Democrat. I’m an extremely empathetic person. My parents say I came to that on my own. IMHO the Republican party doesn’t lend itself to empathy, so I am a Democrat. I’m sure it’s because of my upbringing but I can’t imagine straying.
I am a liberal democrat, as is my mom. Although she struggles with the abortion issue because she is also very devout Catholic. My dad was a Republication up until around the middle of Dubya’s presidency. He really only was a conservative when it came to defense issue and fiscal issues. He never cared one way or the other about social issues. But he has since changed dramatically into a liberal. He voted for Obama twice and hates all the current Republican contenders. I am basically took after my mom and have never strayed from being a liberal.
My parents were oceans apart politically. Dad was a very liberal democrat and Mom was an old-school republican. Luckily for me, just as they did with religion, they laid out the two sides for me as evenhandedly as they could and let me decide. What really tipped me off the middle line and firmly into Democratic territory was the closure of Studebaker and the years of upheaval it caused. Although we had other large employers, we were pretty much a ‘company town’ and even if you weren’t a Studebaker employee, you more than likely worked for a dedicated supplier whose only client was the automaker. People lost jobs, lost homes, there was even a suicide or two. I was only 6-7 years old at the time, and the economics of the situation were beyond my comprehension, but the human costs to everyone around me made a profound impression on me. Lyndon Johnson had just become President and endeared himself to my community forever by personally taking us on as a project and throwing the weight of the government at our problems. Our community recovered, found other industries and began to move forward again. Resources were provided to help families get by until that happened. At that impressionable age, I rather thought that Johnson was some kind of angel! lol In any case, the experience stayed with me and I’ve been a staunch liberal Democrat ever since.
My parents were both new deal Dems. Oddly my father was anti-union. Where he worked there was even a strike and the settlement included a provision that he and two others didn’t have to join the union. They worked by themselves in a separate facility on a non-patented but secret process and were, in fact, all related to the boss (one of the other two was my grandfather, in fact, and the third was the owner’s son-in-law’s brother).
Anyway, I remained a Dem and was, for many years, also anti-union, just like dear old dad. More recently, I have come to realize that without unions, and union shops, labor will never get treated fairly. But except for that, I am really very like my parents politically. Probably a bit further left. I have never found a Pub I was comfortable voting for. Since my state of last residence was IL (the state whose governors make their license plates), I have voted three times for Obama. And now that I am a Canadian citizen and vote here too, I am firmly Liberal. (Why not NDP? Well, I considered it briefly, but then their leader lied to us and claimed that he could run a government in these straightened times and not run a deficit. It helped that his former deputy leader said that Israel should never have existed.) The Conservative party is trying to channel the Pubs. Emphasizing long prison sentences and anathemizing the idea of legalizing pot.
I actually think nature beats nurture for me on this one.
I tend to vote Democratic because their actions tend to cause less harm than the Republicans, but I’m not firmly in ether camp. When I take a political alignment test online I always come out so the nearest famous person on the chart is the Dalai Lama. Not sure what that means but I guess on their scale I am ultra-liberal.
Internally I just try for utilitarianism, see a problem, find the most effective solution.
Philosophically I support some ideas that are small “C” conservative and others that are progressive. I think the political divisions we see in the US today are largely driven by a changing power balance between ignorance and enlightenment. Until this generation it was fairly easy to keep you ignorant and knowing only what the local PTB wanted you to know. That meant that you were basically the product of the local prejudices. I think the erosion of that world is largely what the Tea Party and other “know nothing” groups are based on. It used to be they defined their own reality and that of those they had in their control, through school boards, town councils, churches, etc. Now anybody with a library card or smart phone has the entire philosophical, religious and political history of the human race at their fingertips. Including any number of arguments on all sides of every issue. The control is gone and those who felt they had it are terrified.
Anyway, I think I probably would have ended up in about the same place if my parents had been evangelicals or hippies. I would have demanded facts and made up my own mind.
My parents were from the East coast of the USA and they called themselves “Rockefeller Republicans” which at the time they considered a compliment. They were appalled with Nixon and dumbfounded that Reagan won two terms. I cannot imagine what they would think of the current GOP - probably would not vote.
My current views are pretty much the same as theirs were.
My upbringing shaped my politics considerably. I fled the ugliness of what I saw and have adopted opposite views more out of spite than understanding. I was raised to be a hardcore racist, pro-Confederacy, social conservative with no love of government but an eye for the handouts. Last time I talked with mom, all she had to say about President Obama was that they’d “never get that smell out of the White House,” and she was not speaking metaphorically.
My brother has taken a 3rd path and is basically as much of an anarchist as it is possible to be and still function in society. Philosophically he and I are a lot alike: hard work should be rewarded, the unfortunate should be helped, the lazy should be left to rot, and hoarders should be pillaged and burned at the stake. Oh, and religion should be treated like a penis.
My parents mildly pushed me in the opposite direction politically. Where I grew up most of the adults who are conservative believe very irrational, contradictory, very easy to fact check myths. I think that because that is what I think of as the conservative archetype that pushed me away from that. I’ve reached a point a while back where I can usually take for granted that if they believe something with any political agenda in it, then whatever they are saying probably isn’t true or at best is a wildly exaggerated misinterpretation. Their dogmatism and ignorance gave me a bad image of conservatives.
Having said that my liberalism didn’t start in earnest until college.
My parents, grandparents, and extended family in general were all solidly Republican when I was growing up. My parents voted for Goldwater in 1964; I remember my grandfather saying Adlai Stevenson was a communist.
Obviously I’ve wound up in a very different place politically. But it was more of an evolution over 25 years’ time than a single watershed event. For awhile, I was a moderate Republican of the ‘conservative on fiscal issues, liberal on social issues’ sort, then left the GOP with John Anderson in 1980. I was a Dem-leaning independent for quite some time after that: would have voted for Dole in 1988 if he’d been the GOP nominee; seriously considered voting for Perot in 1992. And over the next half-dozen years, for causes that are definitely TL;DR, I moved from being a centrist to being a liberal. By the time I started posting here in 1999, my evolution was already more or less complete.