Politics may be partly genetic, now what?
There are rampant misconceptions attached to the notion that there might be a role for genes in politics, says the author.
April 7th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Politics may be partly genetic, now what?

Editor's Note: Chris Mooney is the author of "The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science–and Reality."

Is it possible that, as children, we’re already either “liberal” or “conservative”? Do we actually have at least some elements of a nascent ideology well before we even know what that means?

In the 1882 comic opera Iolanthe, Gilbert and Sullivan planted precisely this idea - long before there was any science to back it up. Here’s their verse - which is, admittedly set in a humorous context:

Nature always does contrive

That every boy and every gal

Who’s born into this world alive

Is either a little liberal

Or else a little conservative!

It may have all seemed like a joke back in 1882. But beginning a century later in 1986, the published scientific literature began to accumulate a growing number of left-right genetic studies, of the sort seemingly anticipated by these hundred-year-old verses.

Again and again, across countries, studies of adult monozygotic (“identical”) and dizygotic (“fraternal”) twins show that the former tend to be far more politically similar to one another than the latter. This “twin study” methodology certainly has its limitations, but it is a well established way of studying the degree to which genes influence traits, since “identical” twins share all of their DNA but fraternal twins share only half of it. The left-right twin studies suggest that 40% or more of the variance in our ideological views may be ultimately rooted in genetic influences.

The evidence here seems too much to simply brush off with a wave of the hand - but what does it mean?

After writing about the science of left and right in my new book The Republican Brain and discussing the possible role of genetics - albeit only for a handful of pages - I have learned that rampant misconceptions are attached to the notion that there might be a role for genes in politics.

The problem seems to be that too many people wrongly think of genes as tantamount to destiny.

“As soon as you mention genetics, they think you’re a genetic determinist, and I can authentically say that I am not,” remarks the University of Nebraska-Lincoln political scientist John Hibbing, one of a number of researchers who has conducted research and published on the genetics of politics.

Hibbing’s right: Just because politics appears to be partly influenced by genes doesn’t make genes the dominant factor influencing our ideologies. Nor does it make them political destiny. It is vastly more complicated than that.

Politics is a complex social trait. That means it is multiply determined - influenced by a variety of factors, including our upbringing, the country and region in which we grew up, the particular events of the day, and so on.

However, that doesn’t mean there is no role for “nature” here. What the genetic studies appear to be showing is that even after all of the social factors that shape our views are taken into account, the influence of genes still persists as well - as one of many factors that make us who we are.

But how is that possible? Genes make proteins, not Republicans. I agree that it’s a bit baffling to contemplate, but if you break down the steps, it may be less crazy than it sounds.

In a recent study, for instance, Hibbing and his colleagues tried to trace the route by which genes may ultimately shape political behavior.

It turned out there were no less than five major steps involved:

  • 1. genes to chemical messengers in the brain, like dopamine
  • 2. chemical messengers to “cognitive and emotional processing tendencies”
  • 3. these tendencies to personalities and values (which have been repeatedly shown to differ between left and right)
  • 4. personalities and values to bedrock principles or ideology
  • 5. ideology to stances on specific political issues

And at every step of the way, the “environment” enters into the picture, changing not only the outcome but, very likely, the expression of genes themselves (what is known as epigenetics).

If genes influence politics, then, they likely do so very indirectly.

There are sure to be thousands of genes involved; and they surely operate differently over the course of a lifetime, in interaction with “culture” and the “environment.” Hence the consistent twin studies finding that genes account for only about 40% of the variability in our political views - nothing like 100%. This is not “hardwiring,” or anything like it.

Nevertheless, the picture that emerges from it all remains a very different view of politics - one in which ideology itself seems to emerge from more basic and seemingly non-ideological traits. That doesn’t mean you can’t shift your views or change your mind - people do it all the time. But it does mean that politics probably reflects something much, much deeper than philosophy or rational arguments.

So does this mean that liberals and conservatives are doomed to unending warfare? Not at all.

Hibbing, for one, thinks the results amount to a great case for political toleration - and likens the issue to the debate over the origins of homosexuality. “The closest we’ve come to a widespread debate over this kind of issue is sexual orientation,” he says, “and it’s noteworthy those who are the most tolerant are the ones that do think it is partly biological.” Indeed, religious conservatives who think it is possible to “convert” gays and lesbians to heterosexuality, and claim homosexuality is a “choice” tend to ignore the science on this issue.

Ultimately, though, whatever else you might say about the emerging science of politics, neither ignoring it nor misunderstanding it seem a reasonable option. The best approach to these findings, it seems to me, is to weigh them in all their nuance and complexity.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Chris Mooney.

soundoff (363 Responses)
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    April 15, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  3. Dave Thomas

    Is there any wonder that science is losing respect among the general public?

    April 13, 2012 at 12:27 am |
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    April 9, 2012 at 7:25 am |
  5. eb79

    Am I not allowed to say googl + e?

    April 9, 2012 at 3:38 am |
  6. Jowl

    Just more brainwashing crap from liberals.. This is for their young democrat party to pass around during their meetings - the idea is to cement this into their minds so that they will never switch to republican later in life because they've been brainwashed into thinking they 'don't have a choice'.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • eb79

      It's not the lefts. It's not the rights. This whole idea is just ridiculous.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:00 am |
  7. McGuffin

    Doesn't seem all that complex - the degree to which you're selfish, lack a conscience, or shun cooperative behavior would easily be determined by genetics, thus determining your predisposition to gravitate to the Republican Party.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • eb79


      April 9, 2012 at 3:01 am |
  8. oro

    Shelby and Claude Steele kind of blow this theory away

    April 9, 2012 at 12:02 am |
  9. frsi

    Most folks don't take politics all that seriously. Those that do seem obsessed sometimes, and they ought to try less politics and more reasoning.

    April 8, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • eb79


      April 9, 2012 at 3:01 am |
  10. grapeflavor

    This is just part of the American Left's campaign to smear anyone who criticizes their policies or their ideology. It's not enough for them to say their detractors are dead wrong, or stupid even. No, they are crazy, mentally deficient on the genetic level. Perhaps in their vision of the future anyone who has the audacity to criticize the Democratic Party will be labeled as "mentally ill" and urged to seek "treatment".

    I'm no fan of the Republicans either, believe me. But there is nothing "liberal" or "open minded" about the professional Left. They have long perverted the original ideal of "liberalism" beyond any recognition. The Olbermanns, Kos-tards and firebaggers of this world are vicious, authoritarian and dogmatic to the core, and anyone who gets in the way of their political machine or their rigid ideology will be vilified and degraded until they are no longer considered a threat to the leftist establisment.

    They are disgusting and vile to the point where they make even the worst loonies on the right seem downright likeable.

    April 8, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • McGuffin

      Where in the article does it suggest that it is leftist?

      April 9, 2012 at 12:12 am |
  11. P. O. Carl

    The only things rooted in my "genes" came out in the wash.

    April 8, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  12. exfl

    If your genes lead you to seek clear answers, trust authority, be a "believer", dismiss information that contradicts your existing beliefs and abhor change, then you are a ________________
    If your genes lead you to question authority, be skeptical of everything, have difficulty drawing conclusions, constantly rethink your own opinions and those of others and always think a better answer is just over the horizon then you are a _______________

    April 8, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • grapeflavor

      "partisan retard" and "independent"? Or did you have something more akin to the author of this article in mind?

      April 8, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
      • McGuffin


        April 9, 2012 at 12:13 am |
  13. bencoates57

    That premise assumes our two party system is a natural phenomenon. It is NOT. It is an artifice and abomination.

    April 8, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • MidwstrnGrl

      I think it is more along the notion of more open-minded, adaptable and quick to change mindset vs one that tends to move from patterns behaviors slower and does not want things to change.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  14. Rich

    Folks, there's a bit of humor to be had here. The author is pitching his book, "The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science–and Reality."

    It's a partisan attack piece, designed to separate liberals from their money with the promise of something they think they can bash conservatives with during an election year. Almost clever, actually. I kinda wish I'd thought of it. I could use the extra scratch.

    April 8, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • exfl

      Gosh, maybe conservatives can write some books to bash liberals........ oh, wait.

      April 8, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
  15. bannister

    The author Chris Mooney clearly has an ideological agenda of his own: Like many liberals, he simply cannot fathom that liberalism might be wrong about anything – therefore, he concludes that only a biological defect can explain a belief in conservative ideas. Check the Amazon description of his book The Republican Brain (I have BOLDED certain words))

    – " Chris Mooney uses cutting-edge research to explain the psychology behind why today’s Republicans REJECT REALITY—it's just part of who they are."

    – Why won't Republicans accept things that MOST EXPERTS agree on?

    – Chris Mooney explores brain scans, polls, and psychology experiments to explain why conservatives today believe more WRONG things

    In other word's Mr Mooney's entire theory rests on the assumption that Republicans are "wrong" about empirical "facts" that all the "experts" agree upon! The obvious problem with this theory is that "experts" are biased and partisan too – for example, you could have two economists, one liberal and one conservative. Both come to different conclusions, but either way both would still be an "expert" in economics.

    Secondly, who's "right" and who's "wrong" can change with the times. The concept of welfare might have been "right" in the 1960s- but it may have gone too far by the 1980s. Mooney criticizes Sarah Palin for seeing imaginary death panels in Obama's health care bill – yet only 2 years later, liberal economist Paul Krugman admitted that "Some years down the pike, we’re going to get the real solution, which is going to be a combination of death panels and sales taxes."

    Mooney claims that Republicans reject science – which may be true in some cases. But liberals as well reject established science if it clashes with their ideology / worldview. Take Darwin for example. Liberals love to make fun of Republicans who reject the teachings of Darwin. But liberals conveniently forget that Darwin also believed that Blacks were inferior to Whites and had not evolved as far. In fact, despite mountains of scientific evidence showing intelligence differences between the races, liberals are PSYCHOLOGICALLY INCAPABLE of abandon their mantra that "everyone is equal." They reject the science for emotional reasons.

    Chris Mooney may be right: There may indeed be genetic reasons why some people are liberal and some are conservative (and that would explain why some ethnic groups like Jews for example, favor "collectivist" politics while others favor "individualist" politics) But it is a mistake to labels these genetic distinctions as "wrong" and "right" when in fact, there is much room for intelligent, reasonable people to look at the same data and disagree.

    In other words, a political system that is "wrong" for one genetic group might be "right" for another.

    April 8, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • McGuffin

      You're thinking like a conservative. You see, a liberal's opinions derive from reality, not the other way around.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:15 am |
      • bannister

        Wow, you just ignored everything I said.

        April 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  16. sybaris

    I was a die hard GOP supporter until I was about 42.

    After a career in the military, a couple stupid wars, living in other countries and seeing the U.S. through the eyes of our global neighbors I became a liberal.

    The GOP, the party of our xenophobic racist grandparents.

    April 8, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
  17. pensimmon

    No, it's definitely not in the genes. My parents were conservative (not extreme) and my siblings and I are liberal (Democrats).

    April 8, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  18. simpleguy73

    If only more liberals were aborted!

    April 8, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Dan, TX

      Yes, I'm with you my brother. Why don't we encourage abortion for poor people, they are all liberals, right? If you don't earn $40,000 a year, we should encourage abortion. If you receive foodstamps, you should be required to have an abortion. Sound good to you?

      April 8, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
      • MidwstrnGrl

        awesome reply.

        April 8, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
      • eb79

        Scary to think of now, but there was actually eugenics or forced sterilization going on about 30 years ago

        April 9, 2012 at 3:12 am |
  19. tr1bes

    the left (democrat) prefer to be socialist which makes everyone equal.
    the right (republican) prefer to be dictator/emperor/king which only help themselves and their elite friend.
    the moderate (independent) prefer to be in the middle which are the negotiator.
    So, it's your decision of which kind of government you want.

    April 8, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Loraine

      We'll fine out in November!

      April 8, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • bannister

      Don't make the mistake that Socialism will "make everyone equal." Collectivist systems like Socialism, Communism and Fascism (aka National Socialism) have a long and bloody history. The concentration of top-heavy power in a socialized system is ripe for corruption and will often create the same "1% elite" that any Right Wing system will create.

      Only a system that limits government powers and provides checks & balances will prevent these extremes from occurring.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
      • MidwstrnGrl

        bannister: you seriously need to learn the definitions of socialism, fascism, and communism. They are not the same. There are some major differences

        April 8, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
      • Rich

        @MidWstrnGirl: He didn't say they were the same. He said they were all collectivist systems. They are, and they do have an extraordinarily bloody record.

        April 8, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
      • grapeflavor

        This is why liberals always complain that our politics is "broken", our government is "broken", our justice system is "broken"

        It's because they haven't yet managed to strip away all the checks and balances, all the protections that stymie their attempts to shove their authoritarian collectivist ideology down America's throats. They simply haven't managed to destroy that yet.

        Their vision of a "fixed" government is one where an elite, ideologically "pure" bureaucracy makes all the decisions for everyone, without any limits to their power or opponents to challenge them.

        April 8, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  20. Dan

    In Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables" the liberals are the republicans; the conservatives are the royalists.

    April 8, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  21. Not my fault

    Yea its in the genes (jeans)......an Elephant in mine ..........LOL

    April 8, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  22. Avser Bastian

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    USE OF MKULTRA + HUNGER GAMES TODAY....Use of psychology/psychiatry for mass population or ethnic cleansing as well as crimes to which we witness daily on behalf of Zionism/communism/liberalism.





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    For fast updates use http://www.facebook.com/people/Loki-Nagrind/100001962176474



    IF THEY BRAINWASH YOU WITH LIES ON HOW ELECTING TERRORIST OBAMA WOULD HELP TEA PARTY(there is already over one hundred million of so called minorities in US alone while you are everything, but treated as humans), PLEASE ASK YOURSELF WHAT ARE YOUR CHANCES OF SURVIVAL ONCE OBAMA IS AGAIN SELF-ELECTED(see video 77) & SINCE NEW LAW IS TAKING GUNS FROM YOU ALREADY TODAY(stop the violent world of psychiatry or lies – NOW OR DIE) !!!

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    April 8, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Not my fault

      Your wearing that vest again? HUH? with the sleeves behind your back????

      April 8, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Rich

      Wow. Just... wow. You should really get that looked into.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Loraine

      You sound mentally ill. Truly.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • MidwstrnGrl

      Bow down to me now boy! I am your blue eyed, blond haired, highly educated superior...stop your yapping...

      April 8, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  23. Michael

    There is no way out of the US Becoming a Bee Hive society, for the people lack the ability to govern themselves. We have interjected Social Issues into the political process that we are now letting government structure our society to fit its needs. We as a social comnunity cannot stand freedom, he*k we spent months, no years sqaubbling over what gays and women can and cannot do with their own crotch. We took a limited form of government and turned it into an all pervasive and controlling policeing State! SPECIAL INTEREST ispolitics, was designed that way from and by the top 5/10th of a percent, the so called founding fathers. It was no more than an improvement over the Brits buissnes practices and with some provissions to end abuses towards those of propetied interest. You are now the property of the United States Government. YOUVE CAME A LONG WAY, Backwards!

    April 8, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Loraine

      The Koch Bros. and their ilk will be ruling the USA. "Citizens United Supreme Court ensured that.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
  24. Michael


    April 8, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Rich

      Actually, war has proven through history to be a fantastic incubator for innovation.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Loraine

      Why do you type in all caps. It makes it seem as if you are screaming. You don't have to do that.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Loraine

      You don't have to type in all capital letters. It makes it seem as if you are screaming. You don't need to do that.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • MidwstrnGrl

      plus that its just da mn hard to read

      April 8, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
  25. Eric James

    Conservatives, particularly the cowboy variety of today’s Texas, Arizona, or Southwest, long have lauded America’s iconic outlaw Jesse James as their own for being anti-government. By that definition alone, the Right claims the outlaw assuredly was conservative in his politics. According to generations of the Jesse James, though – not so.

    The liberal bent of the James appears to be genetic, since generation after generation of their individual actions follow in the liberal direction. A new five volume history of their family, coming this summer, overturns the Right’s conceit. Tracking each generation of the Jesse James family from the colonial era to modern day, the James provides overwhelming evidence of their progressive politics.

    Jesse’s own great grandson was hounded out of his judgeship by Republicans after ruling gays be allowed to dance together at Disneyland. In the McCarthy era, a James cousin who co-wrote The Great Dictator with Charlie Chaplin was branded a Communist, hauled before HUAC, and blacklisted from his screenwriting career.

    Among the James women, one became the first woman admitted to the Democratic National Convention. She advocated feminist principals, founded schools, and helped to found Planned Parenthood. Female James relatives in Washington represent PP today in legal defense actions.

    Through generations, the Jesse James family has founded churches, schools, and provided social assistance to those in need. Not like Jesse’s Robin Hood mythology, but in solid municipal and community public service.

    Trace the Jesse James family back to the Colonial era and one discovers Jesse’s grandfather, a Baptist preacher labeled among “rebel preachers” for preaching without a license. Conservative? Not really. He and his rebel preachers bartered their participation in the America Revolution for the complete separation of church and state, a progressive principle today.

    Recent scientific studies indicate brain structure and function may be different between the Right and the Left political factions as much as between the right and left brain itself. As the Right wanders away from science, the thesis remains to be deciphered by the Left. The family of Jesse James offers evidence that being liberal in one’s actions may in fact be genetic.

    April 8, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Rich

      "long have lauded America’s iconic outlaw Jesse James as their own for being anti-government"

      I disagree. But if you're right, then you should have no problem finding plenty of indisputable evidence. But you can't.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  26. Michael

    It has been said that Govenment began in Mesopotamia and Politics was began by Gay Greeks and that may or not be the whole truth but it sure seems that politics are not to liberate the mind but to control it. That said, the concepts of liberal or conservative are manipulated bx those such as who wrote this article. Far from those who did the studies he constructs a non scientific hypothesis of 40 percent chance your political choices* notice may* be geneticly pre disposed. Who Commisiomed and who did the studies, and why would anyone do so, political? Can there be government without politics? Did Nazi Germany have a government without politics. You can say it had a 1 party system of goverment but that is neither liberal nor concervative except on a comparative level. Author very much an apologist for excesses of those who rule. Who was Strause, and what is Strausian Philosophy.

    April 8, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  27. Big Bob


    I joined the Navy as a Boatswains Mate in December of 1975. I cleaned officers toilets and scraped barnicles off the keel of the USS Independence when she was in dry dock. After my discharge, I bounced at the Ritz in the early 80's, worked as a sign erector for Service Sign in harlem. I became a print pressman in the mid-80's and grew my career from there.
    So yes, I do work in a nice air-conditioned office, but with no connections, just hard work. I've been unemployed a total of 6 weeks since that day I joined the Navy. Like the other 49% of the people in this country, I happily pay taxes for services and, yes, a safety net for the under employed. Try to think before you run your mouth off about someone you don't even know. Our President is a member of a historically disadvantaged race. But he's where he is because of education. Those first 12 years are free, you know...

    April 8, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • rdeleys

      Well, we'd better present you with a civics award right away for your career accomplishments! I guess you're the only person in this whole friggin' country who has worked hard!! I take my hat off to YOU, dear sir!!! I guess I must have spent my life sitting around on my @ss. But apparently you have never had the misfortune of falling on truly hard times, and for that you don't seem to be grateful in the slightest. So, before running off at YOUR mouth again, why don't you try to put yourself in their shoes for once?

      April 8, 2012 at 11:32 am |
      • Big Bob

        I had considered keeping my mouth shut on this matter, because you really shouldn't matter that much. I could submit more of my life's story. I've know much strife in my life. Divorce, parental abuse and being a cancer survivor. During my treatments, as a young man, I sat and counseled my fellow patients. No, I don't lack in empathy, rdeleys. I've given to many charities as a face to face human being, not a faceless benevolent father. I feel your anger and, yes, hate. I hope you find peace.

        April 8, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  28. Gary

    Actually, you all think there is a difference between a Republican and a Democrat, where the whole thing is designed to keep you both at odds with one another while Politicians reap the benefits. The entire thing is a game if you look at it from an outside perspective.

    April 8, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • grapeflavor

      Hear hear. The partisan divide may be very real but ultimately it exists for the purpose of keeping Americans at each other's throats while the political class rapes and pillages this country for their own selfish ends.

      If Americans ever stopped fighting the "culture war" and came to their senses they would march on the Capitol with nooses and pitchforks, and Congress can't have that. So hence the games.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  29. Dave Bradshaw

    Brain imaging shows significant differences between the activity in areas of the brain between introverts and extroverts. There is a more prefrontal orientation in the introverts, and a more temporoparietal orientation in extroverts. Introverts exhibit political behavior that is different than extroverts. Liberals are most introverted in both genders. 68.5% of Liberal males categorize themselves as introverted, versus 56.9% of Conservatives.

    Introverts were more inclined to say they make their political decisions based on logic and morality than extroverts. This is consistent with their greater activity in prefrontal cortical regions involved in memory retrieval and planning.

    Extroverts are usually more religious, more likely to believe in their political party's platforms, more likely to organize themselves into social groups, and more likely to align their beliefs to what other people believe in those groups. The extroverts were more likely to cite that they make their political decisions based on religion and in alignment with their political party than are introverts.This is consistent with extrovert's higher activity in areas of the brain responsible for real-time sensory processing and resolution of the emotional significance of sensory events.

    April 8, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Rich

      Wow, I contradict almost everything you wrote. I guess I'm unusual – or your data is bunk. I'd lay 50/50 odds on either.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
      • Dan, TX

        Rich, why is it so hard for you to discern the difference between statistical data, and single individuals. Or, are you just trying to be funny.

        April 8, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
      • Rich

        Dan, I'm just trying to be funny. Also, I don't buy the research.

        April 8, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
  30. Arix

    So genetics determine which political philosophy one subscribes to; even though many people end on both sides in their life.

    However, genetics has nothing to do with why blacks are several times more violent and of lower average intelligence, that's 100% environmental.

    April 8, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • USN Corpsman,

      I am getting my PHD and my parents are black engineers, sorry you guys are far from superior to blacks just because you have white skin. Your obviously not well educated because if you were you would already know the fallacy of your statement. You either said it to inflame racial tensions or display your inanity.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:36 am |
      • Dan, TX

        Thanks. Couldn't have said it better myself. Although I'm white, I really am in shock over what has happened to the republican party. I have my prejudices against blacks and republicans (and most everything else based on what CNN tells me), but I pull those prejudices out and examine them against the facts before I judge an the individual. If Richard Nixon were in politics today the republicans would call him a liberal unfit to be in the republican party.

        April 8, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Loraine

      I am Caucasian. I taught at a Historically Black University in the South for six years immediately after completing my doctoral degree. I subsequently have taught at other universities, including a university in Beijing. I have found that students are students. Several of my students at the Black university went on for graduate degrees. I wish people would make so much of race.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  31. justanotherguy60

    I don't think that genes has anything to do with how we vote. My wife and I, along with both of our parents, have been affiliated with the same party since we started voting. Our son and daughter have taken a different route of voting for the other side. I feel this had to do with their friends and the influence they have impacted. Even though my children saw me in a military uniform for 26 years, they do not in any way support the military. My son is more vocal that my daughter on matters of religion, politics and the military. So, no genes do not make an influence in the aforementioned.

    April 8, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  32. LuisWu

    Makes sense. Certain qualities do appear to be inherited. A study of twins separated at birth has shown that even how religious a person is or isn't can be inherited. So, it would seem logical that people who seem to be born with traits such as being a loving, caring, person who cares about others would become a Democrat, while selfish, arrogant people who care only about themselves become Republicans. 🙂

    April 8, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  33. Voiceinthewind

    They have to be, how else can you describe anyone with a brain voting for people like The Shrub or voting for any Republican? It has to be rote and not a choice made by anyone with a brain.

    April 8, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  34. Delta

    No. It's possible, I suppose, but does not apply to me. I was born to Republicans, raised by Democrats and turned out liberal. A proud liberal.

    April 8, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  35. Mike

    Politics is the systematic organization of hatreds (Henry Adams). Looks like it's working well on you guys. Political parties manipulate you, the voting pawn, into thinking those who think differently from you are not only wrong, but evil, and that all "true Americans" think like you. You are dupes to fall for their rhetoric. Rise above it, and get a life.

    April 8, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • LuisWu

      Sounds like you are a case in point for your own argument.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  36. jellomizer

    I don't think so. My Sister is very liberal, I am a Moderate, and my Parents are Conservative and Very Conservative. While growing up you are influenced by many sources you parents being one of them so it would make sense that your parents conservative values will run off on you. But there are other influences as well such as your friends who may be very liberal. So your friends my influence you political views more then your parents. However because parents are usually a factor growing up it may appear to be genetic. But it could be more influence from your environment.

    April 8, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • LuisWu

      Logic and reason should be the only criteria for political views, not what your parents or your friends think.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:12 am |
      • USN Corpsman,

        Come on now, I am becoming a neurologist and you cannot discount something just because you don't understand it. Genetics play a major part in our identifies, however, Aristotle said it best there is no greater teacher than society. The place where genetics come into play is at the point of how you are effected by what you see, wether you are a independent thinker with a uncompromising persona for your goals, or people deeply identified by those around you acquiring your social ques from those who you identify with, really one could say its endogamy vs exogamy ,

        April 8, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Loraine

      I was a Woman Marine (during the Korean War) and married a Marine from Indiana. Wasn't interested in politics, but when I observed my husband and his friends defending Nixon, I thought, "Hey, wait a minute; I don't think like that. I became a die-hard liberal and now live and breath politics. I now cannot imagine that I was ever a Republican. I was "reborn."

      April 8, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  37. Lola

    I used to a tow a party line, but I was disappointed. Then I read about free markets and limited government. Public schools do not teach these concepts. I embraced Libertarianism. We should all try it. The power you give to one party can be used against you by the next.

    April 8, 2012 at 9:24 am |
  38. Zaphod2012

    We live in a country where you can leave your roots behind and try to make a better life for yourself and your family.
    You might have grown in a family of die hard right or left wingers but as you go out in life and meet others and find out that they are not all the bogey man you should be able to form your own opinions.
    Unfortunately our political system has become two parties. One that wants to control women, hates gays and anybody who doesn't abide by their "rules". The other party, while not everyone might believe in everything, seems to allow more freedom of who we are as people since we are all different but in the end all human beings.

    April 8, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  39. Tom

    I guess I was born confused, I'm Independent. But like a good a old friend once said to me, "I am what I am and that's all that I am, I'm Popeye the sailor man, Toot Toot"

    April 8, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  40. Jake

    My parents are very liberal. I am a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. Political views have nothing to do with your genes.

    April 8, 2012 at 8:59 am |
  41. Robot Monster

    Children are indoctrinated by their parents. Being Catholic does in fact seem to run in families!

    April 8, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  42. troilus

    there is so much hedging of possible conclusions in this article that the scientific findings seem meaningless. Infotainment?

    April 8, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  43. Gumby

    Chris Mooney is an accommodationist hack. Why is CNN giving this feeb server space?

    April 8, 2012 at 8:37 am |
  44. rick1948

    The only "genes" your politics are rooted in are the ones that hold your wallet. If it's a big wallet, you're a Republican. If it's an thin wallet, you're a Democrat.

    April 8, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • Jake

      *a thin wallet. Not an thin wallet.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • Rich

      Darn tootin'. Because we all know the Rockefellers, Kennedy's, 95% of Hollywood elites, etc. were/are Republicans.

      Or, you could be full of it.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
      • Loraine

        Kennedys were Republican????

        April 8, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
      • Rich

        @Loraine – *sigh* Okay, I'll explain the comment.

        All those I listed are wealthy. All those I listed were/are Democrats. I was contradicting the poster above me, illustrating the lunacy of his comment.

        April 8, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • McGuffin

      That might explain why a small percentage of Americans are Republican, but it doesn't explain the rest of the ~50%. We probably have to consider the genetics of how easily misled someone is into voting against their own interests.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  45. sassquach

    that article could be right..... my brother was sickly and turned out a liberal.................

    April 8, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • TJ

      Typical Republican......you clearly don't understand science.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
      • Glenn

        Too bad we can't rise above this gang mentality.

        April 8, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
      • kshel7

        Typical Democrat....you clearly don't understand humor.

        April 8, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
      • Devosays

        Typical diseased liberal, you don't understand anything but a textbook.... lol you dumb MFDA

        April 8, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
  46. USMCvet

    We need to get rid of republicans. If it is genetically possible, we should use gene therapy on every newborn to destroy whatever the heck it is that causes precious babies to grow up to be hate-filled, racist, fearmongering, fascist, greedy, nazi-loving republicans. Republicans HATE Americans and want to destroy this country. They prove it every single day.

    April 8, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • rsayre35

      If you get rid of all the republicans who are you going to get to pay the bills for all you lazy, good for nothing, give me something for nothing dumbocrats?

      April 8, 2012 at 8:47 am |
      • Loraine

        We'll do just fine, thank you, without the Republicans.

        April 8, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
      • Craig

        fiscal responsible republicans is a myth, here is some data I gathered from the national statistics database
        Carter decreased the debt by 3.3%
        Reagan increased the debt by 20.6%
        Bush sr increased the debt by 15.0%
        Clinton decreased the debt by 9.7%
        Bush jr increased the debt by 27.1%

        1978-2005 Democratic
        Spending:9.9% increase
        1978-2005 Republican
        Spending:12.1% increase

        April 8, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Alex

      You are a USMCVET? (I don't believe it) You are very accurately describing liberals. Who launches vile personal attacks on their opponents, attempts to destroy reputations of those they view as "the enemy". Yes...that's smart. Let's have a one-party system. It worked so well for the Soviet Union. You own rant shows how angry and hateful you are.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Paul C Smith

      wow, got Republicans all figured out do ya? this is coming from a person who sides with a party that says Kill as many fetus baby's as possible, but let the murder, rapist, pedifile live. and to think thats just one example of your cokoo ways of thinking. could be here all day with pointing out the rest. liberalism is a mental disorder. PERIOD !!!

      April 8, 2012 at 9:57 am |
      • elmgreen11

        Look who's having the genetically defective babies, the Santorums and the Palins. Selective abortion weeds out the abnormal fetuses that go on to become "special needs" children. The taxpayers have to pay for their upkeep too.

        April 8, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Nadrakas


      Your comment is exactly why I don't believe that you were ever in the military...unless you were kicked out for "conduct unbecoming." "Get rid of Republicans." - What, do you want to start lining people up and executing them for their beliefs? Are you a total Mass Murderer that you actually believe that "getting rid" of anyone, whatever their beliefs, is the right answer. I served 24 years in the military to protect peoples right to free speech – even yours. My family has served this countries military for over 230 years – since the Revolutionary War – to protect that same freedom and all the others that you are taking for granted, so next time you want to "get rid" of someone...don't - just don't. You are talking just like the NAZI's you accuse the Republican's of being (And I have never heard a Republican say "get rid" of people...ever). You are, in fact, talking more like Stalin who killed 50 million of his own people. Just think...if you even have a brain – about what you are saying. Killing people? Get a life...or better yet, just leave our country and go live in a Country where they "get rid" of people on a daily basis because of their beliefs. Maybe then you will have an appreciation of the real freedoms that we have in this country.


      ~ M

      April 8, 2012 at 10:51 am |
      • Rich

        "Are you a total Mass Murderer that you actually believe that "getting rid" of anyone, whatever their beliefs, is the right answer."

        To quote Stalin: "No man; no problem." Of course, he was also a leftist. They're such lovable lil' characters, aren't they?

        April 8, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
      • MidwstrnGrl

        Ive heard plenty of republicans speak this way too...You have a condition called "selective hearing". Its a condition that affects those with a rigid ideology – whether right or left.

        April 8, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • eb79

      You don't sound like any Marine I've ever known

      April 9, 2012 at 2:47 am |
    • Sarah

      Genetically modifying individuals at birth to rid them of personality traits? Sounds a little Hitler-esque to me. I guess this is one step above sending Republicans to "work camps?" What an idiot.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Maurício

      If you eliminate the Republicans the country turns into a mental diarrhea and if you eliminate the Liberals the country turns into a prison.

      April 10, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  47. Jt_flyer

    A viable 3rd party would put an end to these dynosours. The 2 party's system is destroying our nation.

    April 8, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • sean

      try the libertarian party, even they had some members in the system if might break some of the gridlock.

      they like smaller gov't, but believe in personal choices, kinda of a hybrid between what we have now.

      April 8, 2012 at 11:54 am |
      • merlinblack

        I'd love to vote Libertarian, but can't latch onto the lack of environmental perspective. Sorry, but tort just doesn't cut it when someone dumps toxins in my water supply and gives my family cancer.

        April 8, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • eb79


      April 9, 2012 at 4:25 am |
  48. John

    It is an idiotic notion. I was 7th of 8 children of an Irish Catholic and an Protestant Englishwoman; we all have bachelors' degrees at a minimum. Of the 6 still living all are self-proclaimed Independents who swear by Obama (me), Romney (most), and maybe even a Santorum. One's a Mormon, another a Pentacostal something, one was presumably Catholic when he died, 4 of us are anti-religious agnostics. Genes mean nothing; active brains find their own paths. That's a better theorem.

    April 8, 2012 at 6:42 am |
    • Beverly

      Makes all the sense in the world to me John. Great post even if I don't support President Obama like you.

      April 8, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Dan, TX

      Obviously, the examination of one family means nothing, particularly since you may have resulted from the mating of people who were hybrids with respect to the trait being discussed.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • WhyPanic

      I'm afraid you have misinterpreted the article a touch. The hypothesis is that genes have an affect on personal politics, which was shown by analyzing fraternal and identical twins, a study which showed that identical twins were statistically more likely to share a political view then fraternal. As pointed out this is in no way a political destiny, at most this is a mild nudge, and environment plays a much larger affect. The fact that the affect was much more predominant among identical twins then fraternal would also point to this affect being due to a large number of genes, which means that short of being identical, the slight political leanings your genes may cause are too random to be predictable. I tend to be a little more conservative then my brother, and while still liberal in general, I'd say my slight conservative leanings were certainly in part due to my different genetic makeup, as I tended to be a bit more free thinking and critical then my brother, traits that are certainly affected by genetics, and thus I was less likely to simply follow blindly in my parents political foot steps. Genes have far too great an affect on our lives to not have some influence on our political leanings, but that shouldn't be misinterpreted to mean that you inherit your politics from your parents.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
      • John Jay Barnes

        Faulty logic on your part. Maybe the fact that identical twins share ideology is because they are always with one another. Have you ever seen a pair of identical twins that didn't spend an inordinate amount of time together? Sorry to reason this to a deeper level beyond what would prove your point implicitly when you weren't taking into account another unrelated factor which could skew results from reality, that of the proximity and amount of shared experience identical twins have.

        June 14, 2012 at 7:34 am |
  49. Amy

    My anecdotal evidence says nurture, not nature. My parents raised us with values but never gave them names like democrat or republican. When we got to our teens and early 20s, my three brothers and I looked around and joined in with the people who shared those values – democrats. Only problem – our parents are republican!

    April 8, 2012 at 6:38 am |
  50. PhoenixJack

    I quit the two party system 20 years ago, both looks and acts and talks the same to me.

    April 8, 2012 at 6:11 am |
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