The patriotic parades of rain-free Independence Days during childhood pay off in more adults leaning conservative.
That’s the finding of two researchers who compared voter registration patterns of Americans born between 1920 and 1990 with the weather recorded in individual counties on the Fourth of July during what the study found were the key development ages of 9-13.
“(D)ays without rain on Fourth of July in childhood shift adult views and voting in favor of the Republicans and increase turnout in presidential elections,” the 2011 study reports. “The effects we estimate are highly persistent throughout life and originate in early age. Rain-free Fourth of Julys experienced as an adult also make it more likely that people identify as Republicans, but the effect depreciates substantially after a few years.” (The study can be found here.)
That’s because the sunnier the weather, the more likely parents will be taking their kids to Fourth of July celebrations to be surrounded by a red, white and blue celebration of the land of the free. And over the years, that takes hold.
But note the wording: Those people “identify as Republicans,” but what the study is trying to say is they’re conservatives, as we use the word today. “Classical liberalism” is what it used to be called.
It means American.
Throwing a party for hundreds of millions of compatriots, filling the air with Sousa marches and celebrating once again that hot Philadelphia summer of 1776, when a brand new country’s leaders changed the world by declaring “We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights …” makes Americans appreciate once again those men’s willingness to kill and die before they saw that declaration stamped out.
Notice that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” doesn’t include much in the way of entitlements. It doesn’t guarantee health care or defend traditional marriage. It doesn’t say we have to save the world from tyranny, be the first (and only) country to put a man on the moon, or even invent the Internet.
That stuff came later. To even get to the politics, you have to have a free country to do it in, and that’s what those 9- to 13-year-olds are learning through the haze of firecracker smoke, the smell of barbecue and the fireworks’ red glare.
Whatever they grow up to be later, first they learn they’re Americans.
And “American” doesn’t mean Republican or Democrat, or liberal or conservative.
It really means “free.”
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