I am about as left-leaning as I can get without falling over on my side, and lately I’ve been thinking that the research is correct: Democrats and Republicans are born that way. When Reagan was elected Governor of California in 1967, my father was so angry he swore in front of me and steamed for days. When my landlord, a Mr. Shiess, refused to return my deposit money just because he believed he could get away with it, my incensed father drove to Goleta, where many UC Santa Barbara students live, and threatened the man with a lawsuit. After that, he cleverly transposed two letters and referred to the greedy bastard as Mr. Sheiss (German for “shit”).
My father was a sensitive, if ruminating, man who would have given his golden retriever, Rusty, his last morsel, and his inability to hold onto whatever little money he managed to amass over the course of his short life seemed more a function of his biology than of anything else. This is not to say that all Democrats are wealth averse. Though my mother was a Democrat, she craved money more than anyone I have known, and my brother, too, a Democrat, also, is a staunch defender of capitalism and a great gatherer of goods.
Although there is no way to explain adequately why my father and I became poster children for the principles of the Democratic Party while my mother and brother did not, there are certain general differences between Democrats and Republicans that are indisputable. Anything that seems a handout to the hapless, for example, like welfare and unemployment, is anathema to a Republican, while a Democrat believes in helping those who cannot help themselves. It is simplistic, though, and even ridiculous to suggest that Democrats care about their brethren while Republicans do not. The way I see it the differences between Republicans and Democrats boil down to this: Democrats on the whole have a greater capacity to tolerate ambiguity and nuance, and this capacity seems to arise at the cellular level.