Harvard Study Finds Fourth of July Celebrations Help Turn People Into Republicans

Harvard has released a study in its own unique way of celebrating the Fourth of July with America. Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor David Yanagizawa-Drott and Bocconi University Assistant Professor Andreas Madestam argue that Fourth of July celebrations tend to turn people into Republicans and help advance the GOP in elections. I would differ. I think Harvard studies tend to push people toward conservative candidates.

The study suggests that Republicans benefit most from patriotic celebrations: “Fourth of July celebrations in the United States shape the nation’s political landscape by forming beliefs and increasing participation, primarily in favor of the Republican Party.” They go on to say that these celebrations dovetail with conservative causes and themes. They warn “there is a political congruence between the patriotism promoted on Fourth of July and the values associated with the Republican party. Fourth of July celebrations in Republican dominated counties may thus be more politically biased events that socialize children into Republicans.”

In fairness to these professors, they are simply giving the results of a survey that shows the influence on individuals in terms of their political views. Moreover, they suggest that Republicans do in fact celebrate the Fourth of July more rigorously than do Democrats.

I came from one of the most liberal families on Earth and we always celebrated the Fourth of July. We were taught it was a celebration of our rights and our success as a free and pluralistic nation. As a father, I go crazy on the Fourth of July and, over Leslie’s annual protestations, buy enough fireworks to take over a small nation.

I actually would have been more interested in the difference not in how we celebrate the Fourth of July but why we celebrate the Fourth of July. I often talk to the kids about the struggle for liberty from free speech to free exercise. Others seem to celebrate America’s might and dominance. I would have been more intrigued by a survey on how people view the holiday.

There is a danger that some may take the study as a reason not to participate in patriotic celebrations after reading lines like “There is no evidence of an increased likelihood of identifying as a Democrat, indicating that Fourth of July shifts preferences to the right rather than increasing political polarization.”

That is only true if citizens allow the Fourth of July to be associated with Republican values. There can be a self-fulfilling prophesy in such studies if liberals view these celebrations with greater suspicion. I am appalled by the decision this year in Chicago to cancel the Fourth of July fireworks in Chicago to save money. This is the one holiday that unites us all — a celebration of not just our history but our pluralism and values. I grew up going to the fireworks every year on the beach with my family. We joined thousands of Chicagoans of different races and religions and backgrounds. It summed up for me what is it to be a citizen. I am ashamed of my home city in its decision to cancel the fireworks. Any Chicagoans are welcomed to join the Turley clan in McLean for a true patriotic pyrotechnic extravaganza.

John Adams, no conservative, once stated “I believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival,” he wrote his wife, Abigail. “It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other…”

From one end of this continent to the other . . . even on Harvard yard.

Source: USNews

91 thoughts on “Harvard Study Finds Fourth of July Celebrations Help Turn People Into Republicans”

  1. Why is complaining about foriegn policy Anti-American while doing the same about internal policy isn’t?

    Here’s a guess –

    Because foreign policy is America against it’s non-American enemies.

    And, internal policy isn’t.

  2. David,

    Here’s a fun pictorial representation of word usage based on the text of your comments in this discussion.

    Here’s the context.

    First the liberal and Democrat.

    “For those who view the government as a paternal or material figure which has yet to learn what happens when you spoil your children (many liberals), the 4th stands as a moment to celebrate that view. ”

    “There is a growing thread among liberals that I know in which the United States is viewed, mainly, as a force for oppression here and abroad, and as the standard-bearer for “evil” capitalism and empire-building. Despite many living champagne lifestyles, they rail against the evils of the “monetization” of labor, oppression of the working class, and vast swaths of poor who cannot help but be poor.”

    “left has become increasingly shrill over the last 10 years. I don’t think any of this is particularly rational.”

    “they are directed to the vast, unwashed ocean of leftists who behave in this fashion. ”

    “I could, of course, spend just as much time explaining all the atrocities committed by Democratic Party leaders ”

    Now the Right:

    “For those who prefer unbridled capitalism unconcerned by the effects of unchecked greed (many conservatives), the 4th stands for a celebration of individual ambition and self-determination.”

    “The Republicans and conservatives (not necessarily the same) I know are far more likely to view the United States, overall, in a more favorable light ”

    “Should I also have mentioned the vast, unwashed oceans of rightwingers?”

    O.k. so, five explicate mentions of the left (plus several implicate), all of them negative, compared to three of the right, one of which is at worst neutral. Seems pretty obvious, but for fun, let’s take a closer look at those two. One is a direct comparison between the right and the left. The left is pretty bad, it accuses the left of taking an overly simplistic view of the government, while at the same time being ignorant of basic human behavior. On the right? Well, they just like freedom, and while they’re aware of greed, they don’t think it’s a big deal. Instead of being ignorant they’re just (maybe) wrong. The second, only came because you were criticized for your obviously biased language. It’s direct counterpart on the left was unprompted.

    I accuse you of taking side because you criticize one side more than the other and what criticisms you do have are mild in comparison.

    But enough about you. Why is complaining about foriegn policy Anti-American while doing the same about internal policy isn’t?

  3. I happen to think that the hypocrisy on the right is clear and well-understood. They hypocrisy on the left, however, has not been, and it is every bit as deep and dysfunctional. The reason I’ve focused on it here is because it arises in relationship to the Harvard study.

  4. David,

    For someone who doesn’t want to “fall into the partisan trap into which so many here have already fallen,” you sure seem to fixate on one particular party.

    Also, the hypocrisy you’ve mentioned would make them shrilly partisan. Partisan doesn’t mean anti-American, it means pro-your party.

    Care to try again?

  5. @Mike Spindell

    Your method of discussion seems to be to make allegations broadly. This would lead to a “Nyanh, Nyanh, Nyanh” elementary school type of argument and I’m not into engaging in it.


    A few comment threads ago, you acused me of engaging in analingus among other niceties.

  6. “I say it’s irrational because most on the left engage in rather obvious hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance in these matters.”


    Your method of discussion seems to be to make allegations broadly. This would lead to a “Nyanh, Nyanh, Nyanh” elementary school type of argument and I’m not into engaging in it. As far as in re: Libya, it would be helpful to view the wide range of comments here by those that have been extremely negative regarding the Libyan fiasco, including my own. I cited PNAC, because it sums up the current theory of US foreign policy practiced by so-called “serious” people of both parties. PNAC is a pro corporate document, which is why I cited the corporate purposefulness in our FP’s execution. While I strongly argued for the election of President Obama on this blog, I have been extremely critical of his policies since election, in writing, right here. If I substituted “right” for “left” in your quote above, I could make an excellent argument for its truthfulness. As I stated at the outset though, it would just be a silly game of tit for tat. Why bother?

  7. Harvard study says Republicans most patriotic – really?
    Leo Kapakos
    NY Political Buzz Examiner
    July 3, 2011

    So according to the study, if you attend one rain-free July 4 celebration before the age of 18 increases, you are more likely, albeit by 4 percent, that you will vote for a Republican candidate by the time you turn 40. It also increases the likelihood that young attendees will vote in elections by 0.9 percent and boosts the chances that they’ll make political campaign contributions by three percent.

    This writer is not convinced that a ten-year-old child attending an Independence Day parade and enjoying the fireworks will become a conservative for life. Moreover, if the study is right that young age participation in 4th of July celebration produces more Republicans, why is it then in cities like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, etc. that are overwhelmingly Democrat, have 4th of July festivities are well attended with thousands of people showing up with their children.Has anyone from Harvard gone to a Macy’s 4th of July parade?

    I take offense to any study, notion, or claim that Republicans are somehow more patriotic than their Democrat or even independent counterparts. What type of patriotism are we in fact speaking of. If we are talking about “superficial” patriotism, fine maybe. However, if we are talking about true patriotism, an argument can be made that Democrats are more patriotic than Republicans, particularly your garden variety tea party types. Just consider the following:

    Democrats love America, freedom, justice, and equality for all – the values of our founding fathers. They care about their families, friends and all people – the poor, the elderly, and our soldiers. They believe everyone should have healthcare. Democrats believe that Independence Day celebrations should honor not just America’s independence, but individual freedoms as well. They believe that the last lines in America the Beautiful “and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea” includes all people – poor, rich, handicapped, w omen, differing sexual orientation, minorities , people of all faiths, cultures, color, and ethnic backgrounds.

  8. @rafflaw, why stop at Vietnam? How about Korea? WWII? WWI? All nice little wars started by Democrat administrations. Do you want some death counts as well?

    Here comes the herd again.

  9. David,

    I’d just settle for an explanation of why the rhetoric on the left is anti-American. As near as I can tell, you mentioned instances where there was criticism of the American Government’s foreign policy. Why would that be anti-America, but criticism of internal policy is not?

    I’m curious.

  10. David,

    I’ll accept that stipulation without reservation with the exception of the demonization of the corporate. Being critical of corporate influence over government is anything but irrational. It is corporate funded graft in the current form of campaign finance laws that drives most if not all of the malfunctions we see in government. The only way to have power over a demon is the know its name and be willing to speak it. Jingoism and anti-corporatism are two separate, yet related, issues. Jingoism is a tool used to drum up support that is not necessarily in the best national security interests of the country but may be in the profit interests of corporations. By waving a flag over something, the uninformed or the uncritical thinkers among us are easy prey to jingoism. It is a marketing tool that unfortunately works all to well.

  11. Many of the anti-war Ron Paul supporters that post here are also anti-union and pro-corporation.

  12. I could, of course, spend just as much time explaining all the atrocities committed by Democratic Party leaders — internally and externally — but that would just fall into the partisan trap into which so many here have already fallen.

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