Is our life an evolutionary process?
JOHN REINIERS, More Than WordsMost experts agree that whatever the causes of our subconscious characteristics, an individual's personality is firmly established by the end of early childhood. By the time children start going to school they have those personality traits that will remain with them throughout their lives.
Published: September 23, 2012
Published: September 23, 2012
Personality means those traits that make you unique, and they become very apparent at this tender age. Although the process is very complex, experts believe a child's personality becomes established because he or she is no longer totally dependent on their parents, and they have this sense of being able to function on their own.
On the other hand children starting school have acquired little knowledge, or life's experiences, so they can hardly classify themselves by religious or political beliefs.
When I went in the service my religious preference was stamped on my dog tag. (Not my politics.) That dog tag becomes a body part during your entire service career. If a kid registering for school were required to state religious or political preference, our budding young scholar would have to ask his or her parents; and if they were honest, the answer would be "undecided."
A Gallup poll revealed that 72 percent of Americans say they have maintained the same religious preference during their entire lifetime. The majority have no startling evolutionary changes. It's something you are born into. The major reason for changing was that they disagreed with the teachings of their religion. The second most common reason for switching is they found a more fulfilling religion.
The evolution of a voter is more complex because the reason they support political parties include, ideological, ethnic, economic, religious, social, and geographical factors. Then the goals of parties change, often because of polling data, and politicians are nothing, if not totally devoted to getting reelected.
Similar to religious affiliation, childhood influence is the main driving factor behind party affiliation – parents, close members of the family, and the immediate community. That was my case on all three factors. My father was a Dutch immigrant imbued with the traditional tolerant, liberal, accommodating qualities of a Dutchman. Given that he lived in Brooklyn when the Great Depression hit, it was preordained that I would become a Democrat.
I have no recollection of making that decision as a young person. My Dad and step-mother never talked politics with me. Everyone in Brooklyn simply voted for FDR. The first time I recall hearing politics and political parties mentioned was in grade school. A male teacher (unusual then – I never had one), was talking to another teacher about his membership in the Young Communist League (YCL). It was a simple political discussion – nothing heavy. It didn't mean anything to me.
I can't recall ever talking to my friends about politics, even throughout secondary school. I didn't really know the difference between a Democrat and a Republican. The only divisiveness which was readily apparent was between the male fans of the New York Yankees, Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants.
Documented stories about hyper-political teachers today indoctrinating their students are common, but I don't recall any such thing in public schools in the late thirties or during the war. But I would imagine that every teacher in Brooklyn then (even now) was a far left liberal, yet at the same time an old fashioned flag waving patriot – in a George Bush sense of the word – during the war; and all their students' parents were FDR Democrats. Earl Browder even officially dissolved the Communist Party during the war, since the U.S. and the Soviet Union were allies.
Who was there in Brooklyn to indoctrinate?
Fast forward to a 2004 survey of 50 colleges by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) which found that 49 percent of the students complained of professors frequently injecting political comments into their courses even if it had nothing to do with the subject.
Knowing your own history offers clues to your party affiliation. The Young Communist League was founded in Brooklyn in 1922. It is alive and well. It has the largest membership in its history, and has chapters throughout the U.S. and around the world.
In 2006 the YCL website noted "Congressman Major Owens (D-NY) welcomed us to Brooklyn "on behalf of all the progressive forces of the nation and the world" at the Young Communist League's 8th national convention."
A prominent member of the Democratic Party and the Congressional Progressive Caucus in 1992 he spoke at the Socialist Scholar's Conference held at the Manhattan Community College in New York City – where even President Obama shows up on their archived files as an attendee in the past.
I don't think any kid growing up in Brooklyn when I did even knew what a Republican looked like. But political affiliations do change. A Pew Research survey of independent voters revealed that 72% thought of themselves as a Republican or Democrat at one time during their lives, but I'll bet they didn't find an independent in Brooklyn.
Even though I left New York before I could vote, I voted in two presidential elections as a Democrat before I changed parties. The short answer for my evolution can be best explained by quoting economist Edward J. Nell who observed, "Politics, very often, is simply economics pursued by other means."
It's all about the economy. Economics may be a social science, but it is math based. Progressive liberalism simply doesn't add up. First do the math and construct a balanced budget, with debt reduction before spending tax dollars on all those things that are nice to have. Progressives have it the other way around. It never adds up. The demise of European socialism is living proof of that.
Then turn old-fashioned job creating capitalism loose, but keep tight controls on the wildly creative financial sector which is only interested short term performance with obscene profits; and do not believe they are accountable to society at large.
John Reiniers, a regular columnist for Hernando Today, lives in Spring Hill.