Genetic predisposition for fear


Has it struck anyone else that most elections are generally decided by a vote that is almost always close to one half the electorate?  This type of divide has occurred in almost every election for the last 100 years with only a few exceptions:

2016-Trump with 46% of the vote; Clinton 47%

2012-Obama with 51% of the vote

2008-Obama with 53% of the vote

2004-Bush II with 51% of the vote

2000-Bush II with 48% of the vote

1996-Clinton with 49% of the vote

1992-Clinton with 43% of the vote (this was a serious three party election)

1988-GW Bush with 53% of the vote

1984-Reagan with 59% of the vote

1980-Reagan with 51% of the vote

1976-Carter with 50% of the vote

Except for the Reagan 1994 election, one can see that every election was within a few percentage points of 50%.  This fact strikes me as curious.  Why would the population tend to divide at 50% on almost every election?  If this was a math problem and I was flipping a coin, I would expect to come out near 50% every time regardless of how many times the coin was flipped.  This is not a coin-flipping problem.  This is about people making conscious decisions about social issues and their continued well-being.  So why are almost all recent elections so statistically close?  I think there is another factor that is more difficult to identify because it is possibly ingrained in human behavior.  The concept that I would like to talk about is GENETIC PREDISPOSITION.  This idea has been tossed about in the behavioral science community for a long time.  Can we accept that each of us has tendencies based on our genetic makeup?  We see this in canines all the time.  Some species are aggressive; some are gentle; some chase rabbits while other breeds are extremely hyperactive. One controversial aspect of this that has been posited by some behavioral scientist is that some humans may carry a gene combination that tends to make them xenophobic, which causes them to have an intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other cultures.  The extreme outcome of this kind of behavior could be genocide. One of the most infamous examples of this is the Nazi regime which convinced most Germans that the Jewish people were the reason their lives were so miserable.  This resulted in the slaughter of millions of innocent Jews. A large portion of the German population (maybe 50%) bought into this idea and did everything they could to make the Jews’ lives nightmarish.

You must understand that all my observations are made through my eyes, with innate biases in place, but with a reasonable effort to look at all issues from a theoretical as well as analytical point of view.  So, with genetic predisposition in mind, here is where I want to attempt to go with this concept: perhaps fear is what determines a person’s political point of view in our current political reality.  Perhaps some of our contemporary politicians are presently somehow exploiting this basic human attribute-fear!

Here is how I see the two political parties and their appeal to voters.

Democrats:  The Democratic party tends to focus on people of less means in this country, as well on a strong centralized government.  Most social programs have been fostered by the Democratic party which would certainly include the latest social program, THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT.  In the past, and supposedly the present, the Dems were generally in favor of sharing the wealth and seeing to it that the money makes its way down from the wealthy, rather than going to a relatively small number of super affluent individuals.  My own observations have led me to believe that most Dems are generally trusting individuals.

Republicans:  This party has always been centered on states’ rights and the limiting of the power of a centralized government.  Over the last few decades they have included causes such as abortion, gun ownership and anti-gay rights as possible state’s rights issues.  I feel that in contrast to the Dems, the Republicans arrive at many of their decisions lacking sufficient trust in basic human good and thus are instinctually influenced disproportionately by fear.

There is little doubt that everyday life requires a good mix of trust and cautiousness in our dealings with fellow humans, and so it MUST be balanced!  Basing one’s life totally on one of these principles to the exclusion of the other will not serve anyone well. But this discussion may be meaningless if we are rigidly genetically predisposed to behave a certain way.

It seems to me that, based on known human behavior, there would be a natural drifting from the current 50% voting towards a more biased 40-60 or even 30-70 margin based on the issues of the time.  Yet, in recent history there seems to be a propensity towards the middle number of 50%.  What are the consequences if political parties have successfully tapped into the genetic profile of the electorate?  Maybe the Republican party has exploited what I call the FEAR GENE.  What if 50% of the population base most of their daily decisions on fear and mistrust?  For example, when I go to our local post office, which is quite small so that one never loses sight of his car while retrieving mail, I invariably see some people locking their cars.  This may seem like a small thing, but let’s look more carefully at this behavior.  My assertion is that 50% of the people who have more difficulty trusting their fellow-man tend to lock their cars, and people with a more trusting nature tend to leave their cars unlocked. What I have noticed is that my Republican friends, seem to arrive at their beliefs out of fear: fear of other races, fear of big government, fear of supreme court decisions, fear of losing their guns,  fear of alternative sexual lifestyle and others that I probably cannot even consider.  Decisions based solely on fear and emotion are hardly ever great choices in the end; decisions based on trust, logic and carefully arrived at conclusions are.  If what I propose has a basis in reality, where do we go from here to create a peaceful world?  Are there any paths that civilization can follow towards a more peaceful future?  Just me let know what you think about this.



One thought on “Genetic predisposition for fear

  1. I bet you would enjoy “The Geography of Genius” by Eric Weiner (of DC). He devotes a couple pages to Serendipity. I didn’t realize that came from the old name for Sri Lanka. Weiner quoted Louis Pasteur, “Chance favors only the prepared mind.” So serendipity may happen by chance, but the geniuses out there take time to notice and capitalize on those chance events. Keep sharing your serendipitous insights.

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