The verdict is in: conservatives are happier than liberals. And is anyone really surprised? According to the recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 45 percent of conservatives reported being “very happy” in contrast to 30 percent of liberals and 29 percent of independents. Best of all, this reality is not because President George W. Bush, a model president, is in power. The “conservatives are happier than liberals” trend dates back to 1972 when the General Social Survey began. No matter which party was in control of the White House, conservatives simply smiled more.
George Will, a columnist for The Washington Post, phrased it nicely, “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.”
Also of interest were the additional trends the survey found. According to the survey, “married people are happier than unmarrieds. People who worship frequently are happier than those who don’t. Republicans are happier than Democrats. Rich people are happier than poor people. Whites and Hispanics are happier than blacks. Sunbelt residents are happier than those who live in the rest of the country.”
With regard to conservatives, while there are probably many reasons, Will feels that the core explanation for conservative happiness is conservative pessimism. “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.’).”
According to Will, this pessimism has a three fold benefit for conservatives. One, conservatives are rarely caught off-guard since they are generally correct about the course of human events. Two, if the conservative is proven wrong, they are happy to be so. And third, unlike liberals, conservatives see happiness as something to be pursued, not as an entitlement from the government.
What we find, as Will notes, is that “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. [And] 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.”
Beyond conservative pessimism, I am convinced there is more that accounts for the happiness gap. Another central reason of the spread has to be hatred. Liberals hate conservatives with such consistency that happiness is in low supply. Dennis Prager, a syndicated columnist, poses three questions to help gauge liberal hatred:
First, “during the 2004 elections, which car was more likely to be ‘keyed,’ i.e., deliberately scratched – a car with a ‘John Kerry’ bumper sticker in an overwhelmingly conservative area or a car with a ‘George W. Bush’ sticker in an overwhelmingly liberal area? [Second,] when speaking at colleges, do right-wing or left-wing speakers need and receive police protection? [And third,] in a debate between a right-wing and a left-wing speaker before an audience equally divided between left and right, which audience group is more likely to boo and hiss at the speaker with whom it disagrees – the liberal or the conservative?”
These questions make it clear that while liberals will impose their personal morality above social justice and view people who disagree with their “progressive” ideas as being morally inferior and undeserving of decent behavior, the number one issue, as Prager notes, at hand is that “liberals hate conservatives more than conservatives hate liberals.”
Prager states, “liberals deem conservatives to be racist, homophobic, war mongering, money worshipping and sexist. It makes perfect sense to hate such people. I would, too. The converse is not true. Conservatives tend to view liberals as immature and foolish. But childish adults and fools don’t merit the hatred that racists do.”
In the end, I simply like to laugh at liberal foolishness. I choose not to sink to their level to play ball. Martha Washington once said, “The greatest part of our happiness depends on our dispositions, not our circumstances.” And as a word of advice, it’s time for liberals to get over themselves and smile for a change.