Conservative Values Lead to Happiness

Conservative values are more conducive to lasting happiness; liberal values tend to engender fleeting pleasure. Liberals pursue happiness, but for conservatives it naturally ensues.

Ever wonder why so many liberal Democrats are seething in discontent? It’s because they are takers, not givers. Mounting research indicates that generosity, rather than selfishness, is more likely to produce lasting happiness, an elusive emotion for liberals who languish on the wrong side of the generosity gap.

Supported by analysis of IRS tax data, there’s plenty of evidence that states who voted for John McCain gave far more of their discretionary income to charity than states that voted for Obama. This phenomenon continued in 2012: the majority of states whose residents gave a greater percentage of their income to charity voted for Romney, while the states at the bottom of the generosity list voted for Obama.

Conservatives are simply more generous than liberals, and it turns out that this generosity gap coincides with the happiness gap, which also favors conservatives. Indeed, a growing body of research indicates that once a person’s basic needs are met, prosocial spending (like giving to charities) foments meaningful happiness compared to the shallow satisfaction wrought from liberally spending on self.

Evidence that conservatives are generally happier than liberals is compelling. Pew Research Center in 2006 reported that conservative Republicans reported far higher rates of happiness than did liberal Democrats. This “partisan happiness gap” has endured for decades, and there’s evidence that conservative values are the reason.

Ever fretful, liberal malcontents postulate that happy conservatives are lacking in sympathy towards the needy, and are not burdened with social conscience. Frankly, that’s nonsense concocted in a brainwashed liberal mindset riddled with confirmation bias. Actually, not only do conservatives give far more money, as a percentage of discretionary income, to charities than bleeding-heart liberals, but they also volunteer more -- much more.  Arthur C. Brooks, esteemed president of the American Enterprise Institute and author of Who Really Cares, not only cites data (supported in numerous other studies) indicating that conservatives are more generous financially, but also more generous with their time.

These higher levels of volunteerism are hardly indicative of the callous disregard for the downtrodden that secular progressives attribute to conservatives. Neither is the fact that conservatives also give more blood. Brooks estimates that if liberals and moderates gave blood at the rates of conservatives then the blood supply would increase about 45%.

Notwithstanding the mental tightrope conjured by distraught liberals to straddle the happiness gap, profound happiness entwined with meaning and purpose are enmeshed in conservative values. Indeed, prosocial giving and volunteering are replete with social benefits for the givers as well as the recipients. Turns out that generosity is the good kind of “selfishness,” with happiness being the salutary by-product.

Conversely, self-absorbed liberal secularists flounder from one existential crisis to another under the duress of absurdism. Preoccupied with the meaningless predicaments of their self-importance, they squander the impetus to help the less fortunate amongst us, surrendering responsibility for all forms of social welfare to an inefficient government.

Core to modern liberalism is the preeminence of big government in redistributing wealth to fund all social services. The resultant labyrinth of bureaucracies pits groups against each other by dividing society into strata with varying degrees of subservience to distant administrators who capriciously divvy up society’s resources. Rather than growing the pie for all, theirs is a zero-sum game in which the poor become entrapped in the self-perpetuating dependency maze. It contravenes human nature and eviscerates the happiness that accompanies personal responsibility. But helping others is deeply engrained in human nature, so it’s no surprise that conservative values tend to produce enduring happiness -- they are being true to themselves.

Reinforcing the link between generosity and happiness, states that top the generosity list have higher rates of churchgoers. But liberals are less likely to be married or to be religious, both conditions which inherently challenge their emotional equanimity and threaten their prospects for substantial happiness.

Another value that is deeply associated with happiness is freedom. Whereas money, at least when lavished on self, can’t buy happiness, the freedom to make choices leads to a sense of well-being and happiness. Choices that liberal democrats want to deny you, preferring acquiescence to the whims of leviathan.

Stifling political correctness and the pathos of victimhood are also eagerly embraced by liberals to the detriment of their happiness. Consider the precious little cupcakes whose delicate psyches cannot withstand the rigors of free speech. Instead of reveling in the joy and exhilaration of intellectual exploration on our nation’s campuses, students and professors tread in trepidation amongst their vacuous safe spaces, constantly fearful that free speech might bypass their “trigger warning” alerts. No wonder campuses are rife with depression and anxiety.

According to our brilliant British (at time of the Declaration of Independence) founders, the pursuit of happiness is one of our unalienable rights. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has described what happiness meant to them: “happiness meant that feeling of self-worth and dignity you acquire by contributing to your community and to its civic life.” In a sense, happiness ensues from contributing to society, but profligate liberals would rather pursue happiness for self-gratification.

Lasting happiness derives from reaching out to personally help others. Giving financially if possible; volunteering; giving blood; relishing personal responsibility and freedom; untethering the constraints of political correctness; commitment to marriage and spirituality… these are conservative values from which happiness ensues.

After lamenting the stinginess of liberals, the NY Times op-ed “Bleeding Heart Tightwads” notes that even well-heeled liberals give disproportionate amounts to well-endowed colleges or the arts, rather than organizations with direct ties to the impoverished. The author then exhorts fellow liberals to “put your wallets where your hearts are.” They already have! Their hearts -- and minds -- are as closed as their wallets. Their lack of giving conveniently justified by the exculpatory notion that governmental largesse will sustain the poor.

For them, happiness is about instant gratification that often divides us, fraying the threads that weave E Pluribus Unum. That’s not the pursuit of happiness our brilliant British founders envisioned for “the last best hope of earth.” 

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