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Liberalism is Not Conducive to Happiness

 
 
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2006 09:23 am
I have always felt this to be true.

__________________________________________________________

Liberalism is Not Conducive to Happiness
By George Will

WASHINGTON -- To bemused conservatives, it looks like yet another example of analytic overkill by the intelligentsia -- a jobs program for the (mostly liberal) academic boys (and girls) in the social sciences, whose quantitative tools have been brought to bear to prove the obvious.

A survey by the Pew Research Center shows that conservatives are happier than liberals -- in all income groups. While 34 percent of all Americans call themselves ``very happy,'' only 28 percent of liberal Democrats (and 31 percent of moderate or conservative Democrats) do, compared to 47 percent of conservative Republicans. This finding is niftily self-reinforcing: It depresses liberals.

Election results do not explain this happiness gap. Republicans have been happier than Democrats every year since the survey began in 1972. Married people and religious people are especially disposed to happiness, and both cohorts vote more conservatively than does the nation as a whole.

People in the Sun Belt -- almost entirely red states -- have sunnier dispositions than Northerners, which could have as much to do with sunshine as with conservatism. Unless sunshine makes people happy, which makes them conservative.

Such puzzles show why social science is not for amateurs. Still, one cannot -- yet -- be prosecuted for committing theory without a license, so consider a few explanations of the happiness gap.

Begin with a paradox: Conservatives are happier than liberals because they are more pessimistic. Conservatives think the book of Job got it right (``Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward''), as did Adam Smith (``There is a great deal of ruin in a nation''). Conservatives understand that society in its complexity resembles a giant Calder mobile -- touch it here and things jiggle there, and there, and way over there. Hence conservatives acknowledge the Law of Unintended Consequences, which is: The unintended consequences of bold government undertakings are apt to be larger than, and contrary to, the intended ones.

Conservatives' pessimism is conducive to their happiness in three ways. First, they are rarely surprised -- they are right more often than not about the course of events. Second, when they are wrong they are happy to be so. Third, because pessimistic conservatives put not their faith in princes -- government -- they accept that happiness is a function of fending for oneself. They believe that happiness is an activity -- it is inseparable from the pursuit of happiness.

The right to pursue happiness is the essential right that government exists to protect. Liberals, taking their bearings, whether they know it or not, from President Franklin Roosevelt's 1936 State of the Union address, think the attainment of happiness itself, understood in terms of security and material well-being, is an entitlement that government has created and can deliver.

On Jan. 3, 1936, FDR announced that in 34 months his administration had established a ``new relationship between government and people.'' Amity Shlaes, a keen student of FDR's departure from prior political premises, says, ``The New Deal had a purpose beyond curing the Depression. It was to make people look to Washington for help at all times.'' Henceforth, the federal government would be permanently committed to serving a large number of constituencies: ``Occasional gifts to farmers or tariffs for business weren't enough.'' So, liberals: Smile -- you've won.

Nevertheless, normal conservatives -- never mind the gladiators of talk radio; they are professionally angry -- are less angry than liberals. Liberals have made this the era of surly automobile bumpers, millions of them, still defiantly adorned with Kerry-Edwards and even Gore-Lieberman bumper stickers, faded and frayed like flags preserved as relics of failed crusades. To preserve these mementos of dashed dreams, many liberals may be forgoing the pleasures of buying new cars -- another delight sacrificed on the altar of liberalism.

But, then, conscientious liberals cannot enjoy automobiles because there is global warming to worry about, and the perils of corporate-driven consumerism which is the handmaiden of bourgeoisie materialism. And high-powered cars (how many liberals drive Corvettes?) are metaphors (for America's reckless foreign policy, for machismo rampant, etc.). And then there is -- was -- all that rustic beauty paved over for highways. (And for those giant parking lots at exurban mega-churches. The less said about them, the better). And automobiles discourage the egalitarian enjoyment of mass transit. And automobiles, by facilitating suburban sprawl, deny sprawl's victims -- that word must make an appearance in liberal laments; and lament is what liberals do -- the uplifting communitarian experience of high-density living. And automobiles ...

You see? Liberalism is a complicated and exacting, not to say grim and scolding, creed. And not one conducive to happiness.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 17,262 • Replies: 429
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2006 09:28 am
The village idiot is typically depicted as being unusually happy as well.
0 Replies
 
okie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2006 10:10 am
The term, "angry left" has been popping up a bit more lately. I think it is pretty descriptive, and I think Hillary would make a good poster child to represent the movement. I look for the Republicans to use the term as a weapon in upcoming elections, because it does especially describe the most strident faction of liberals, and people know it. Actually, the existence of such extreme anger among leftist politicians is worrisome indeed, as it indicates the possibility of very worrisome scenarios if they should ever gain power.

I make the above observation because unhappiness commonly translates into anger and vice versa.
0 Replies
 
Roxxxanne
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2006 10:14 am
It's just the latest right-wing talking point bullshit. And projection.

We are the ones having all the fun and you guys are the ones who are angry because you are not.
0 Replies
 
okie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2006 10:16 am
Roxxxanne wrote:
It's just the latest right-wing talking point bullshit. And projection.

We are the ones having all the fun and you guys are the ones who are angry because you are not.


You just illustrated my point whether you intended to or not.
0 Replies
 
astromouse
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2006 10:22 am
Conservatives are happier because conservatism=keeping things the same e.g to conserve the status quo
ergo conservatives are happy ecause they have settled, they don't aspire for any change, because they have conformed to be happy with things they way they are.
Liberals on the other hand have the liberty to be unhappy about things because they want to change them and make them better, which in a conservative eyes is bad because change=bad.
So to make it simple:
1)conservative=conformist
2)liberal = non-conformist
0 Replies
 
okie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2006 10:28 am
Neat observation that is perhaps true to an extent, except a couple of problems with it. Change is not always good, and conservatives also desire some changes where warranted. Some changes can be done in conservative ways. For example, conservatives desire change to the health care system, to tort system, to the educational system, and to the tax system, among many other things. Liberals do not wish to change Roe v Wade.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2006 10:35 am
From reading various posts by liberals on A2K, it is a wonder they haven't committed suicide as miserable as they are. Nothing but negativity spews forth daily. I know if my life were that miserable, I would try to change and maybe try to find something more positive to expend my energy on.
0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2006 10:55 am
What a very happy thought, McG.

I read the report. The data for happiness by political party is for the "very happy" category -- there is no data for "pretty happy" and "unhappy" in the section for party affiliation. The report sayst that Republicans are more likely to report being very happy than are Democrats and Independents. This doesn't change when controlling for income or ideology. Interestingly, the authors of the report allude to religiosity as the possible controlling factor. I'd be interested to see what happens if you combine "pretty happy" with "very happy".

The report is here: http://pewresearch.org/social/pack.php?PackID=1
0 Replies
 
Roxxxanne
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2006 10:57 am
McGentrix wrote:
From reading various posts by liberals on A2K, it is a wonder they haven't committed suicide as miserable as they are. Nothing but negativity spews forth daily. I know if my life were that miserable, I would try to change and maybe try to find something more positive to expend my energy on.


This coming from someone with the WTC being blown up as his avatar. Unreal!
0 Replies
 
Roxxxanne
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2006 10:59 am
okie wrote:
Roxxxanne wrote:
It's just the latest right-wing talking point bullshit. And projection.

We are the ones having all the fun and you guys are the ones who are angry because you are not.


You just illustrated my point whether you intended to or not.


More bullshit.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2006 11:00 am
Roxxxanne wrote:
McGentrix wrote:
From reading various posts by liberals on A2K, it is a wonder they haven't committed suicide as miserable as they are. Nothing but negativity spews forth daily. I know if my life were that miserable, I would try to change and maybe try to find something more positive to expend my energy on.

This coming from someone with the WTC being blown up as his avatar. Unreal!

It seems the WTC attack made you unhappy, but not McG. This, of course, only proves his point.
0 Replies
 
Roxxxanne
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2006 11:03 am
His point was that conservatives are happy because of 9/11?
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2006 11:08 am
No, his point was that conservatives are happier than liberals. He did not state any of the possible reasons.

On reflection, maybe conservatives are happier than liberals because they have the nicer political opponents?
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2006 11:33 am
Thomas wrote:
Roxxxanne wrote:
McGentrix wrote:
From reading various posts by liberals on A2K, it is a wonder they haven't committed suicide as miserable as they are. Nothing but negativity spews forth daily. I know if my life were that miserable, I would try to change and maybe try to find something more positive to expend my energy on.

This coming from someone with the WTC being blown up as his avatar. Unreal!

It seems the WTC attack made you unhappy, but not McG. This, of course, only proves his point.


What's the implication here Thomas?
0 Replies
 
astromouse
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2006 11:36 am
okie wrote:
Neat observation that is perhaps true to an extent, except a couple of problems with it. Change is not always good, and conservatives also desire some changes where warranted. Some changes can be done in conservative ways. For example, conservatives desire change to the health care system, to tort system, to the educational system, and to the tax system, among many other things. Liberals do not wish to change Roe v Wade.


Yes , very true.
What I was attempting to illustrate is that generalizations are not applicable to every facet of life.
Of course every human being wants change , but that change of course is subject to a base of ideologies or core beliefs.
So when looking for change in certain ways the person (or persons) will always try and accommodate that change to what they are most comfy with.

It also should be noted that such thing as "happiness" has to be observed in the time period in which it happens.
Right now, conservatives are in power , so their beliefs, values and emotional states are of course influenced by this phenomenon, whereas if this same article was written during a period in which liberals were in power the same article would be ; perhaps , be titled "conservatism is not conductive to happiness" and in that time frame it would generally be held true, because the factors that would make a high percentage of conservatives polled "happy" are not there for them.

But even this is not 100% true , because what would happen if conservatives were in power, but they weren't being catered to by their leaders?
So all in all ; as with every aspect of emotions, it's completely subjective.

I hope I made myself clear, or else it might make me unhappy... :wink:
0 Replies
 
DontTreadOnMe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2006 12:48 pm
joefromchicago wrote:
The village idiot is typically depicted as being unusually happy as well.


well, he is the president afterall...
0 Replies
 
BillyFalcon
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2006 12:51 pm
Astromouse,

It is not true that conservatives do not want change.
They want change just as much as liberals do.
But not now.
0 Replies
 
Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2006 12:53 pm
Well, ignorance is bliss, Mr. Will.
0 Replies
 
DontTreadOnMe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Feb, 2006 12:58 pm
Lightwizard wrote:
Well, ignorance is bliss, Mr. Will.


Laughing
0 Replies
 
 

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