Who is happier?

Now that Senator Obama has placed bitterness of political factions on the national agenda, it is time to revisit the literature on the happiness and optimism of conservatives versus liberals. Most polling that I have seen shows that conservatives or Republicans are more optimistic and happier with America than are Democrats or liberals. I don't have the archives of polling at my fingertips to prove it, but I scarcely think the proposition is controversial.

A forthcoming book seems to be making the same point, once again. Craig Offman of Canada's National Post writes:
As a young liberal in left-wing Seattle, U.S. economist Arthur Brooks saw political conservatives as self-interested stick-in-the-muds who were incapable of joy.

Much to his own elation, he was wrong.

In his upcoming book, Gross National Happiness, he shows that religious rightwingers in the United States are more capable of happiness than their secular, left-leaning counterparts. An optimistic belief in prayer, hard work and economic mobility -- along with a stable family life -- leads to greater contentment.  Too much latitude in one's personal life, on the other hand, combined with the worry about economic iniquity and a lack of spirituality, makes for a gloomy existence.

A social scientist at Syracuse University's left-ish Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Prof. Brooks is also a visiting scholar at the libertarian-leaning American Enterprise Institute.

"I don't get along with anybody," says the affable 43-year-old who for a dozen years was a professional French horn player before becoming an academic. "I was a Democrat and then I was a Republican, but ultimately I'm ill at ease in either camp."

The title that brought him the most attention, Who Really Cares? The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism, also took aim at what he called an "intellectual elitist opinion." Published in 2006, it asserted that the so-called dog-eat-dog conservatives donate more money than so-called bleeding heart liberals.

When I began moving from liberal to conservative two decades ago and stareted attending conservative gatherings, one of the most striking things to me was how pleasant it was to be around people who were:

a) happy; and
b) willing to have serious discussion of political issues, rather than simply attack those who disagreed.

This experience confirmed to me that I had made the right choice in rejecting my former politics. I can only hope that many others, seeing the dark underside of Obama's evident anger, will be encouraged to leave bitter and intolerant liberalism behind.

Hat tip: Susan L.
Now that Senator Obama has placed bitterness of political factions on the national agenda, it is time to revisit the literature on the happiness and optimism of conservatives versus liberals. Most polling that I have seen shows that conservatives or Republicans are more optimistic and happier with America than are Democrats or liberals. I don't have the archives of polling at my fingertips to prove it, but I scarcely think the proposition is controversial.

A forthcoming book seems to be making the same point, once again. Craig Offman of Canada's National Post writes:
As a young liberal in left-wing Seattle, U.S. economist Arthur Brooks saw political conservatives as self-interested stick-in-the-muds who were incapable of joy.

Much to his own elation, he was wrong.

In his upcoming book, Gross National Happiness, he shows that religious rightwingers in the United States are more capable of happiness than their secular, left-leaning counterparts. An optimistic belief in prayer, hard work and economic mobility -- along with a stable family life -- leads to greater contentment.  Too much latitude in one's personal life, on the other hand, combined with the worry about economic iniquity and a lack of spirituality, makes for a gloomy existence.

A social scientist at Syracuse University's left-ish Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Prof. Brooks is also a visiting scholar at the libertarian-leaning American Enterprise Institute.

"I don't get along with anybody," says the affable 43-year-old who for a dozen years was a professional French horn player before becoming an academic. "I was a Democrat and then I was a Republican, but ultimately I'm ill at ease in either camp."

The title that brought him the most attention, Who Really Cares? The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism, also took aim at what he called an "intellectual elitist opinion." Published in 2006, it asserted that the so-called dog-eat-dog conservatives donate more money than so-called bleeding heart liberals.

When I began moving from liberal to conservative two decades ago and stareted attending conservative gatherings, one of the most striking things to me was how pleasant it was to be around people who were:

a) happy; and
b) willing to have serious discussion of political issues, rather than simply attack those who disagreed.

This experience confirmed to me that I had made the right choice in rejecting my former politics. I can only hope that many others, seeing the dark underside of Obama's evident anger, will be encouraged to leave bitter and intolerant liberalism behind.

Hat tip: Susan L.