When I was in elementary school, I have this vivid memory of my dad coming to pick me up one day. It was November and the leaves had turned and fallen, and today there were all sorts of strange adults walking around the school grounds. There were strange signs posted everywhere, too. Something to do with polling booths. But I didn’t care because we were getting a half day! I was very excited. Neighborhood football was probably in order.
This was when I first heard the terms “Democrat” and “Republican.” I remember asking my dad what they meant, and he said, “Democrats part their hair to the left and Republicans part their hair to the right.” I parted my hair to the right (or was it my right that had the part?). No bother. I was a Republican because my dad was a Republican and we each parted our hair in the same way. I remember feeling good that we had that in common.
It was my earliest political memory. It still makes me chuckle for a dozen different reasons.
Today I don’t have a part in my hair, nor do I even have much hair to speak of. Perfectly fitting for my political views, of course.
Politics is more of an arbitrary thing than you may be comfortable with. Personally, I’m of the belief that it’s more about being part of a team and all the spirit and camaraderie that goes along with that. It feels good to surround yourself with people that share things in common and it feels good to stand together against the Other Guys. This tribalism is part of our human DNA and is an evolutionary tactic in many different species.
Politics is also a place where you can go to make decisions and develop beliefs without having to do much thinking yourself. I don’t say that in derogatory sense. Careful, rational thought is exhausting. Our brain relies on shortcuts and political affiliation is an important shortcut. It allows people, who, in a vacuum, wouldn’t have the first thing to say about complicated tax policy or the nuances of foreign relations, to have a real opinion on these things. This feels good.
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