July 4th Celebrations Create Republican Kids?

BlogHer Original Post

Is a kid who attends 4th of July celebrations more likely to become a Republican?

One study out of Harvard says so. The findings indicate that a child who attends at least one rain-free 4th of July celebration before the age of 18 is 4 percent more likely to vote Republican before the age of 40. And when eventual voting behavior is not considered, these children are still two percent more likely to identify as conservative.

Alrighty. I'm tempted to draw the conclusion that rain will either freak out young people beyond the possibility of political engagement, or irritate them to the point that they'll go Independent, but that's probably too obvious.

Is it always sunny in Conservatoria?

What isn't as clear-cut is the connection between a holiday that millions of people across the country of all political affiliations celebrate and an ultimate distinct Republican affiliation. Is it that, as the study indicates, Republican adults are more likely to enthusiastically wave the flag and embrace other red, white and blue symbols commonly associated with a patriotic holiday, and they naturally bring their children along for the ride? This sets up the other side of the typical meme: that Democrats aren't as interested in these things, are less patriotic and not as interested in celebrating their country. Politics and patriotism, while two distinctly different concepts, tend to blur in certain circles.

Or is this junk research science, just another in a long line of studies that seeks to connect the most minute and random of human behaviors with the political beliefs and actions that shape an American life, based on relatively small samples of people and personal details?

I don't know.

Yankee Doodle Cranky

All I have to go on -- and maybe you do too -- is entirely anecdotal, emotionally charged personal data. Mine is drawn from 40 years of attending a legendary 4th of July parade in the community where my grandmother and mother grew up, scores of backyard picnics, and an insistence on fireworks every year. And tonight, as I sat with my parents at a big cookout and fireworks display, wearing a top printed with a Navy anchor (for my father, grandfather and uncles) surrounded by words like "freedom" and "USA", what anyone else there thought about anything along party lines didn't really cross my mind.

I can't say the parades of my childhood had any bearing whatsoever on how I eventually registered my party affiliation. It was way more complex than that, but what was reinforced was a pride in community and a sense of gratitude for the good things about where I was born and raised, along with a respect for the people in my family who served in the military.

I likewise wasn't carded at the door tonight and asked my political affiliation at what I can only assume was an omnipartisan event. I frankly didn't think about politics at all. The only thing I was thinking about (as I embarrassingly teared up at Lee Greenwood, I admit it) was that I was happy to be there with my family. Our own divergent political beliefs just didn't play into the experience.

It rained pretty hard for awhile tonight, but then it stopped just in time for food and fireworks. And the only thing I can say for sure is that I hope that no matter what the kids who were there tonight believe now or in 5 or 12 or 16 years, that they'll vote with their brains and their consciences, and not just because the sky lit up and most people around them were wearing the colors of our country's flag.

I just hope that they'll vote at all, because we get to.

Contributing Editor Laurie White writes at LaurieWrites. Her photos are on Flickr.

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