Why Conservatives Are Happier Than Liberals
In the article below Dennis Prager extends his thesis that American liberals are less able to handle what he has previously called "sad facts". They are more easily upset.
I think he is getting to the heart of it. The next step however is to ask why. And the fact that political orientation is highly hereditary is most of the answer.
Leftists would appear to be born with what psychologists call emotional lability. They are dominated by their emotions to such an extent that reasoned argument is of very little interest to them. They have an emotionally releasing conclusion they want to come to and will put up any argument that leads to that conclusion -- regardless of the facts or logic of the matter
So in dealing with liberals one is dealing with emotional kneejerks -- and reason has little power to alter such things -- hence the intractability of the political divide
According to polls -- Pew Research Center, the National Science Foundation -- and studies such as Professor Arthur Brooks' Gross National Happiness, conservative Americans are happier than liberal Americans.
Liberals respond this way: "If we're unhappier, it's because we are more upset than conservatives over the plight of those less fortunate than ourselves."
But common sense and data suggest other explanations. For one thing, conservatives on the same socioeconomic level as liberals give more charity and volunteer more time than do liberals. And as regards the suffering of non-Americans, for at least a half-century, conservatives have been far more willing to sacrifice American treasure and American blood (often their own) for other nations' liberty.
Both of these facts refute the liberals-are-more-concerned-about-others explanation for liberal unhappiness. So, let's look at other explanations.
Perhaps we are posing the question backward when we ask why liberals are less happy than conservatives. The question implies that liberalism causes unhappiness. And while this is true, it may be equally correct to say that unhappy people are more likely to adopt leftist positions.
Take black Americans, for example. It makes perfect sense that a black American who is essentially happy is going to be less attracted to the left. Anyone who has interacted with black conservatives rarely encounters an angry, unhappy person.
Why? Because the liberal view on race is that America is a racist society. Therefore, for all intents and purposes, a black American must abandon liberalism in order to be a happy individual. It is very hard, if not impossible, to be a happy person while believing that society is out to hurt you. So, the unhappy black will gravitate to liberalism, and liberalism will in turn make him unhappier by reinforcing his view that he is a victim.
The unhappy gravitate toward the left for a second reason. Life is hard for liberals, and life is hard for conservatives. But conservatives assume that life will always be hard. Liberals, on the other hand, have utopian dreams. At his brother Robert's funeral, the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy recalled his brother saying: "Some men see things as they are and say 'why?' I dream things that never were and say 'why not?'"
Utopians will always be less happy than those who know that suffering is inherent to human existence. The utopian compares America to utopia and finds it terribly wanting. The conservative compares America to the every other civilization that has ever existed and walks around wondering how he got so lucky to be born or naturalized an American.
Third, imagine two Americans living in essentially identical socioeconomic conditions. Both earn $45,000 a year, both have the same amount of debt on their homes and both have the same number of dependents. One seeks governmental assistance wherever possible; the other eschews any governmental help. Which one is likely to be the liberal and which one is likely to be the happier individual?
This is not a question only an oracle can answer. The one who yearns for governmental help is the one who is likely to be both liberal and less happy. Conservatism, which demands self-reliance, makes one happier. The more one feels that he is captain of his or her ship (as poor as that ship may be), the happier he or she will be.
A fourth explanation for greater unhappiness among liberals is that the more people allow feelings to govern them, the less happy they will be. And the further left one goes, the more importance one attaches to feelings.
It is liberal educators and liberal parents who have clamored for protecting young people from the pain of losing games. The liberal world came up with the idea of giving trophies to kids who lose; they don't want their children feeling bad. Conservatives, on the other hand, teach their kids how to lose well. They are less worried about their children feeling bad.
A couple of years ago, I gave a speech on happiness to the students and faculty of a prestigious high school in the Los Angeles area. The subject was the need to act happy even when one isn't feeling happy -- because it is unfair to others to inflict our bad moods on them and because we will never be happy if we allow our feelings to dictate our happiness.
From what I experienced that day and learned later, liberal students and faculty generally loathed my speech; conservative students generally loved it (there was no conservative faculty to speak of). Why? Because conservatives are far more likely to be comfortable with the idea that feelings are not as important as behavior. Those who know that feelings must not govern us, but that we must govern our feelings, are far more likely to be happy people.
The upshot of all this? There is an amazingly simple way to defeat the left: Raise children who are grateful to be American, who don't complain, who can handle losing and who are guided by values, not feelings. In other words, teach them how to be happy adults.
Save Us From the Intellectuals
Super-genius political science professor Charles H. Franklin of the University of Wisconsin, Madison recently gave loud voice to a widely held liberal belief: Ordinary Americans, especially conservative ones, are stupid.
At a conference by the Society of Professional Journalists, alternative newspaper editor Bill Lueders asked Franklin why "the public seemed to vote against its own interests and stated desires, for instance by electing candidates who'll drive up the deficit with fiscally reckless giveaways to the rich."
Franklin responded: "I'm not endorsing the American voter. They're pretty damn stupid." (Excuse my impertinence, but is there a grammatical glitch in the genius's formulation?)
First, we should note that Franklin implicitly accepted Lueders' premise as fact: The voters who claim to be motivated by a passion to end reckless Washington spending had just elected candidates who will be fiscally irresponsible because they support "reckless giveaways to the rich."
But how smart is it to mischaracterize a policy, misrepresent its likely consequences and ignore other relevant data to arrive at an ideologically preordained conclusion?
Extending Bush tax cuts for those making $250,000 or more would not be a giveaway. We're not talking about the government's money, but money earned by individuals. Only leftists believe that all income is the property of the state and that the amount remaining after income taxes is a gift from the government to the individual.
Moreover, the tax rates we're discussing have been in place since 2003. To extend those rates would not be a cut. To fail to extend them would constitute a tax increase. I suppose "intelligence" doesn't require the honest use of terminology.
In addition, the premise is overly simplistic because it suggests that extending the Bush rates for the highest income bracket would cost the government revenues dollar for dollar, as if we have a completely static economy. The mentally gifted simply refuse to acknowledge the empirical evidence showing that reductions in marginal income tax rates during the Kennedy years, the Reagan years and the George W. Bush years resulted in increases in revenue. They also fail to factor in the economic truism that tax increases during bad economic times retard growth and thus constitute a drag on tax revenues.
Finally, the premise ignores that voters were rejecting Obama's big spending across the board and that the extension of the Bush rates would be only one small part of the equation. Those voting out the Democrats were overwhelmingly repudiating Obama's reckless spending in virtually every other category -- save defense. That is, they voted not against their interests, Mr. Lueders and Professor Franklin, but consistent with them.
You might be interested in some other pronouncements by Professor Erudition. One example: In an article in Politico about a year ago, Franklin wrote, "The issue that has dominated the summer and fall, health care reform, will most likely not remain high on voters' list of the most important problems in 12 months regardless of the outcome of legislation." Well, exit polls showed that 20 percent of voters believed health care was not only important but the most important issue. Doubtless, a full majority of voters believed it was among the most important problems, even if not the most important.
The liberal intelligentsia's contempt for the American people is well-established. Franklin's snarky outburst is little different from then-ABC anchorman Peter Jennings' statement that American voters had a temper tantrum when they delivered a congressional majority to Republicans in 1994, Obama's assessment that voters are irrational because they are scared, or the Bush haters bitterly decrying the 2000 and 2004 elections with their observation that red-state voters were "reality-challenged." And it's no different from liberals' perpetual characterization of Republican political figures as stupid, from Reagan to George W. Bush to Sarah Palin.
I'll tell you what is rather silly; I don't want to say "stupid." It's this repeated assertion that one's political viewpoint is based on intelligence, when it is far more related to one's worldview and disposition. For every brilliant, average or unintelligent liberal, I'll show you a brilliant, average or unintelligent conservative. Ideology is not a function of IQ, and political allegiances and policy preferences are often unrelated to facts.
If you want an example of "stupid" -- or at least intellectual negligence -- consider the childish willingness on the part of so many intellectuals, on the left and the right, to deify candidate Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Then again, hasn't it always been axiomatic that "intellectuals" lack common sense? In their minds, Jimmy Carter was going to make the ideal president. What's worse, many of them think he did. Please save us from the intellectuals.
A true Marine
One thing that has made America great is its long lineage of valiant leaders in every generation. These are the type of men and women about whom our sixth president, John Quincy Adams, said, "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."
One more extraordinary example of that type of leadership can be found in my friend and the new commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Amos.
In 2007, I visited our troops at 15 bases in Iraq with then-three-star Lt. Gen. Amos and four-star Gen. Bob Magnus.
After being recommended by Defense Secretary Robert Gates in June and endorsed by President Barack Obama in July, he was appointed on Oct. 22, which my wife, Gena, and I (among many others around the world) were thrilled to hear.
According to The Washington Post, military officials say Amos is an innovative thinker about future combat and a passionate advocate for finding additional resources to treat Marines diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries. To boot, Amos is a man of great faith in God. And he's now the first Marine commandant with a background as a naval aviator. (In choosing Amos, Gates passed over Gen. James N. Mattis, who is one of the military's best minds regarding waging war on insurgents.)
Before Amos was selected as head of the Marine Corps, however, he weathered a rather unique vetting period. Amos' poise and leadership was vividly on display for the country and the world to see when he was grilled by members of the Senate Armed Services Committee for an hour in a hearing in which the questioning was almost exclusively about gays in the military.
Amos was again on the hot seat when he spoke recently with reporters during a Southern California visit to mark the Marines' 235th birthday. With American troops on the battlegrounds in Afghanistan and still deployed in Iraq, Amos said now is not the time to overturn the "don't ask, don't tell" policy prohibiting gays from openly serving in the military.
Amos explained: "This is not a social thing. This is combat effectiveness. ... There's risk involved. I'm trying to determine how to measure that risk. ... There is nothing more intimate than young men and young women -- and when you talk of infantry, we're talking our young men -- laying out, sleeping alongside of one another and sharing death, fear and loss of brothers. I don't know what the effect of that will be on cohesion. I mean, that's what we're looking at. It's unit cohesion; it's combat effectiveness."
I applaud Amos for caring more for the troops than for being politically correct. He deserves the accolades of military personnel and all citizens alike. Americans should feel proud and safer to have him serving as the commandant of the Marine Corps. If we had more leaders like him in this world, we wouldn't be in half the hurt that we are.
You can't win against the TSA thugs: "Amid the furore over airport security, Sam Wolanyk had a plan to avoid his second intrusive pat down in a week ... he stripped off. But Mr Wolanyk, who had previously campaigned for the right to openly carry guns, was arrested. He stripped to his underwear at San Diego International Airport but refused a body scan and pat-down search because "it was obvious that my underwear left nothing to the imagination.". Mr Wolanyk said he was patted down a week ago and he "was not willing to be molested again". "I figured that this way everyone would be happy: I don't get scanned or groped, they can verify that I'm not a danger to anyone and the line would actually move more quickly because those pat-downs take time," he said in a statement. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican believed to harbour presidential ambitions for 2012, said the heavy frisking should be reserved for likely terror suspects."
South Korea considers asking for US nukes: "South Korea’s defense minister raised the possibility of redeploying U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in the country Monday, after North Korea showed off its latest advances in uranium enrichment. Kim Tae-young told lawmakers that such an option could be discussed next month at a newly created joint military committee to enhance deterrence against the North’s nuclear programs.”
Shrink the Fed before it shrinks the dollar: "The Fed has just embarked on yet another round of ‘quantitative easing,’ or QE2 — weasel words for money printing. So in addition to ‘end the Fed,’ we now hear ’sink the QE2.’ QE2 is the Fed’s Hail Mary pass, according to analyst Peter Schiff. The creation of so many new dollars would tend to depress the value of old dollars. But the Fed says inflation isn’t a problem right now. Instead, deflation is the problem. But the gurus are only talking about ‘price inflation,’ as measured by consumer price index.”
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)