5 Bizarre Ways Politics Influences Your Personal Life

There's a time and a place for politics. (Unless you're a senator or an esteemed political pundit, hopefully there's fewer rather than more times and places.) The problem is, as much as we try not to, we take our political views with us wherever we go, and they affect how we live our lives, often in weirder, more frighteningly specific ways than anyone realizes ...

#5. Our Political Beliefs Dictate Who We Marry

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What You'd Like to Believe:

Love is a force more powerful than anything you've ever encountered. It defies explanation. If you try to contain it, it'll break free. It surrounds us, it penetrates us, and it binds the galaxy together. But it can't be bargained or reasoned with: It doesn't feel pity, remorse, or fear, and it won't stop until you are dead.

Sexual innuendo, or a sugarcoated threat from the Sweetheart night stalker?

And there's no way petty political beliefs could ever get in its way.

Except, you know, when they do.

The Reality:

As you slam dance through the mosh pit of life, hoping to "accidentally" cold-cock your future spouse, studies show that you are inexorably drawn toward someone who shares your political beliefs. In fact, researchers have found that politics are a more important factor in mate determination than physical attractiveness and (gasp!) personality.

Professor John Alford, the author of the study, even suggests that hopeful romantics should "skip 'what's your sign' and go straight to 'Obama or Palin?'" OK, fine, Professor Alford. But any strategy that aspires to be "more useful than astrology" should bear in mind that hopeful romantics are naive, crazy people who consult astrology for guidance. In addition, the study insists that such rampant ideological incest will result in a future generation more thoroughly divided than the current one. Right. Because no one has ever disagreed with his parents' political views. "Wait, Dad, you liked Ike? Well, then I too shall like Ike."

#4. Politics Influence What You Name Your Kid

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What You'd Like to Believe:

I don't have any kids, and childbirth scares the ever-living shit out of me. But even to me, naming your child seems like an intensely personal part of parenthood: You expel a bloody entity out from your innards and utter a few syllables that will brand that being for life, all before you pass out from trauma. Even so, at the end of the day, it is your bloody entity, so you don't want something like political beliefs to fuck with those holy syllables you've bestowed upon it. Nobody wants your child to go through life as a Chester or, God forbid, a Millard. Nobody. Not you, not your husband or wife, not even the attractive nurse you just met outside of the maternity ward.

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"Obviously I wear rubber gloves whenever I use pens. It's just sensible."

The Reality:

It turns out that politics are very important when it comes to baby nomenclature. According to a study from the University of Chicago, while liberals are likely to pick a unique, culturally attuned name (like "Galadriel" or "Esme"), conservatives frequently opt for something more traditional, such as "John" or "Katherine."

If you get into the linguistics of it, the baby-name political divide widens: Liberals are far more likely to go with names that have soft, elegant sounds, like those created by Ls and long As. And conservatives are more likely to go with sturdy Bs and Gs. However, certain names, like "Joshua," cross political boundaries. Indeed, Joshuas of the world: It is you who shall unite us and lead us out from the darkness of this bipartisan madness.

#3. Liberals and Conservatives Segregate Themselves

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What You'd Like to Believe:

Self-segregation? There's no way, right? Don't we live in a post-MLK, post-Lincoln, post-9/11, post-racial America? If anything, where you live has less to do with your political views than whatever strange, inalterable fate you've been dealt in this great game of Go Fish we call life. Right? Right?!?


The Reality:

Your political views have everything to do with where you live. Plus, scientists don't actually know why. Partly, it seems, self-segregation is the result of an urge to fit in and live near a population with similar values. It's as if political discussions are so unpleasant that people are willing to up and change their lives just to avoid the possibility of them happening.

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"Hello, girl peers. I feel overwhelming outsider-related anxiety being the only male in this image. Even so, I will continue to smile and hide my true feelings. Isn't homework HILARIOUS?"

To top it all off, it doesn't even matter if that feeling of alienation is grounded in truth. Students at the University of Virginia were given a skewed test that falsely indicated how liberal or conservative they were. Nonetheless, when the test identified them as an outsider, they suddenly felt a strong urge to transfer. That's right: You might be every bit the Republican your neighbors are, but the second a few bullies (aka scientific researchers) tell you you're "different," get ready to pack your bags and leave your conservative mecca.

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J.F. Sargent

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