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 ...

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Our Political Beliefs Dictate Who We Marry

5 Bizarre Ways Politics Influences Your Personal LifeDigital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images

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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.

5 Bizarre Ways Politics Influences Your Personal Life
Sexual innuendo, or a sugarcoated threat from the Sweetheart night stalker?

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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."

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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.

5 Bizarre Ways Politics Influences Your Personal LifeBrenda A. Carson/iStock/Getty Images
"Obviously I wear rubber gloves whenever I use pens. It's just sensible."

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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."

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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.

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3
Liberals and Conservatives Segregate Themselves

5 Bizarre Ways Politics Influences Your Personal LifeThinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty

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?!?

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Wrong.

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.

5 Bizarre Ways Politics Influences Your Personal LifeBananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images
"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?"

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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.

2
Political Views Have an Effect on What You Buy (and How Much You Enjoy It)

5 Bizarre Ways Politics Influences Your Personal LifeNoel Hendrickson/Digital Vision/Getty Images

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What You'd Like to Believe:

Regardless of your political leanings, you're still a person. Even you, fascists. And every person has the same basic needs: water, sex, Wi-Fi, coffee filters, hand moisturizer, candles to place in the jaws of the many wolf skulls that adorn your bedroom, and food. Whether you're Richard the Red Stater or Mallory the Tree-Hugging Hippie, you both have the same biological drive to consume food, keep your home clean, and adopt quirky political epithets.

5 Bizarre Ways Politics Influences Your Personal LifeJack Puccio/iStock/Getty Images
Each of these ingredients represents a different political identity, which is why everyone loves pizza.

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The Reality:

Are you reading this article in a grocery store? No? Well, go to one -- now. And don't roll your eyes, just fucking do it. OK. Now, look at that dude in the checkout lane. See him? Well, if he's buying a pack of Budweiser, Coors, Tide, or any other domestic brand, he is, more likely than not, a conservative (and one who clearly has a drinking problem, given that he's already anticipated having to bleach beer stains out of his clothes). However, if that same guy is about to purchase imported or generic goods, he's probably a liberal. But if you didn't figure out that the liberal's "Ivory Tower" was actually made of recycled goods and not-endangered animals, then you just don't know your stereotypes. And there's more.

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Conservatives and liberals react completely differently to marketing: Conservatives are less likely to buy energy-efficient products if they're advertised as "environmentally friendly" (rather than merely "cost-saving"). Quite the opposite, liberals are more likely to enjoy coffee if it's marketed as "eco-friendly."

5 Bizarre Ways Politics Influences Your Personal Lifebrown54486/iStock/Getty Images
"It's artisanal, which is French for 'four dollars.'"

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Even if conservatives think climate change is a myth, it makes no sense whatsoever to avoid saving money just because of that belief. It's as if conservatives resent the issue being brought up so much that they'll pay more to avoid it. And liberals have such an intense desire to feel good about themselves for their Earth-saving beverage choices that they've somehow tricked their brains into believing their eco-friendly coffee tastes good. But it doesn't, liberals. It tastes very, very bad.

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1
Politics Change How (We Think) People Perceive Us

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What You'd Like to Believe:

Our political process depends on us knowing how closely our personal views align with those of the existing political parties. Without this knowledge, electing future Rich-People-Who-Like-to-Wear-Suits-and-Lie would be even more chaotic than it already is. The political party system lets us know exactly what type of citizen we are and, more importantly, what sort of misguided idiot we most certainly are not.

The Reality:

Both liberals and conservatives have no self-awareness (and at the end of the day, lacking self-awareness is what makes us American, isn't it?). Studies demonstrate that liberals have an overwhelming tendency to think they have less in common with their political allies than they really do; meanwhile, conservatives believe they have more in common with their political allies. And both groups are equally wrong.

5 Bizarre Ways Politics Influences Your Personal LifeMinerva Studio/iStock/Getty Images
"No! The other side is wronger!"

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Think about it: Conservatives oppose same-sex couples in order to "protect family values," yet the "traditional family" is an ever-shrinking minority. It's almost like they just assume that theirs is the "default way to be." Meanwhile, the Occupy Wall Street movement never developed a clear message because no one wanted to risk excluding all the people they assumed disagreed with them. For instance, consider this vague message I transcribed from an Occupy rally: "We are the 99 percent! Yes, we are! The 99 percent! That's what we are! Ninety-nine! Percent! We are! Yes! Ninety-nine!"

Now, perhaps all of this has made you as mad as our hair-receding friend above. But before you get upset and storm into Cracked's secret underground lair (and that's only if you get past reception ... and the confusing labyrinth of neighboring website offices, and, ugh, the sign-in sheet), bear in mind that these findings don't apply to everyone. But hopefully by considering these trends and getting to know our opponents, we can someday come together, look past our differences, and agree upon new, exciting ways to tell each other to fuck off.


JF Sargent is on Twitter and Facebook and a blog and even a sci-fi adventure novel you can read for free.

For more on politics, check out If Politicians Ran On Issues the Internet Cares About.

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