By Pam Danz-Are liberals really smarter than conservatives? Writing in publications such as psycologytoday.com and nationalgeorgraphic.com, Satoshi Kanazawa, Reader in Management at the London School of Economics, has stirred up the Blogosphere with assertions like, “…among the American sample, those who identify themselves as “very liberal” in early adulthood have a mean childhood IQ of 106.4, whereas those who identify themselves as “very conservative” in early adulthood have a mean childhood IQ of 94.8.”
If you are a conservative and ignore wobbly citations such as “the American sample,” you might actually start feeling a bit inferior. Cheer up, and batten onto the phrase “early adulthood.” It is perfectly logical that intelligent young adults identify themselves as liberals. As Winston Churchill said, ““Show me a young Conservative and I’ll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I’ll show you someone with no brains.”
Let’s look at fiscal liberality first. Because of lack of life experience we all tend to be more fiscally liberal in our youth. If you have never struggled to meet a payroll or keep a family solvent, higher taxes to help those who are struggling to find a job or who have not yet made the connection between having children out of wedlock to personal poverty seems like a kindness. Once you have looked at a budget and had to weigh the priority of new shoes for your own children against higher taxes, or hiring a new worker instead of paying higher taxes, those taxes start looking like punishment for hard work instead of kindness. Once you have made personal sacrifices to stay in school, delayed family life, scrimped and saved to put a down payment on a house and ignored the siren call of a shiny new car to keep your personal finances in balance or once you have worked 80 hour weeks to start a business, your attitude toward redistribution of wealth changes. Once you are looking at redistributing your own hard won wealth instead of “other people’s money” you tend to become more conservative. Some might call it growing up.
We also become more conservative concerning foreign policy as we grow older. We learn that not everyone out there loves us and bullies cannot be won over with appeasement. After offering the hand of friendship and being knocked down a few times, an intelligent person learns to, “speak softly, and carry a big stick.” (Theodore Roosevelt) Conservative foreign policy allows for kindness and giving others the benefit of the doubt, but military preparedness is crucial. It becomes more and more attractive to an intelligent person as he or she gains information about current events and history.
Intelligent folks espouse socially liberal concepts when they are young for some very obvious reasons. The more intelligent you are the more likely you are to attend college. Attending college usually means delaying marriage for at least 4 or more years than those who do not attend college. As far as I know intelligence does not damp down ones sex drive. College students want a sex life as much as folks who get married right out of High School, so many of them find the mores of the secular humanists very attractive indeed. If you reject the sex-within-marriage-only precepts of your parents and church you can feel virtuously liberal instead of self-indulgent and unwilling to make sacrifices for your faith. So many intelligent people fool themselves and only wake up to the virtues of a conservative family life as they become older and enter into a monogamous marriage and see the harm that sleeping around does to precious children.
Intelligent people tend to be more open to trying out new ideas. New ideas are defined as liberal and progressive at first. So the folks who try them out think of themselves as liberal. But a funny thing happens, once the new ideas are proven and found to work, they become part of the conservative milieu. For example conservatives now believe that a doctor ought to wash his or her hands between patients. Once it was a wild new idea and only liberal young doctors would take the time to do it, but it worked, so it is now conventional wisdom. A liberal idea has aged and been proven and is now conservative. Does that make the intelligent young doctors, now long dead, liberals or conservatives?
Some new ideas are tried out and prove to be perfectly awful. Communism is an example. Intelligent persons have realized that Communism harms the very folk it was purported to help. Communism has not been incorporated into the conservative mind-set. Those who cling to the concept of Communism are called liberals. No matter what their IQ, these folks are dummies. Fortunately most of their card-carrying fellow-travelers have seen the light as they aged and now believe in more conservative ideas.
As intelligent liberals grow up they hang on to some the interesting new ideas that they found to work in their youth, but if they are honest, many of them will define themselves as conservatives or moderates because many of the liberal concepts they found so romantic when they were young simply have not panned out. So if a new study were done of folks with high IQs who are now in their 50s, rather than in their teens or twenties, you would find that smart people are conservatives. So there!
Pam Danz lives in Flat Rock, NC and used to write for the Radford News Journal in Radford VA. Along with several other careers she is a Masters Degreed educator with experience teaching from Middle School through college.