Monday, March 20, 2006

Konservative Kid Krisis

Desperate Renegade point to a fascinating story in the Toronto Star that reports about the longitudinal study of UC Berkeley Professors Jack and Jeanne Bloch (I know, that automatically makes them targets for rightwingers of the Horowitz persuasion), part of which gets summarized thusly:

Block admits in his paper that liberal Berkeley is not representative of the whole country. But within his sample, he says, the results hold. He reasons that insecure kids look for the reassurance provided by tradition and authority, and find it in conservative politics. The more confident kids are eager to explore alternatives to the way things are, and find liberal politics more congenial.

Ok, it might not take a study to figure that people who toss around the world "evil" a whole lot aren't ones who're going sing-along with Pavement's line "there are forty different shades of black" and have any clue they know what they're saying. Distinctions? Bah. Let's divide the world in two, especially if we get the bigger half.

The summary of the journal paper also says:

The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity.

The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests. The girls were still outgoing, but the young men tended to turn a little introspective.

As sweeping generalizations go, these sweep with a pretty true-to-life broom. You want whiny, listen to any rightwing talk radio or read any conservative blog. Imagine doing so as a person just up from a Van-Winklish snooze and you'd assume the liberals were entrenched in the White House, Congress and the judiciary. That the world was unsafe for big business. That snowy plovers were armed and protected by the second amendment and ready to go Cheney-crazy on any hunter dumb enough to wander down their beach.

Of course, while the description of us liberals seems more flattering, it hides one less pleasant truth, too. (No, not that our outgoing girls are easy.) That our hanging loose and introspection can leave us too eager for other answers, too willing to dicker, debate, delight in discernment.

But I'm willing to be convinced otherwise.


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