Why so? The reasons are many. For one, liberals, especially white American liberals, are highly critical and dissatisfied with their country, culture, race, and gender. If you don’t like the society, race, culture, and gender that you’re part of, your ability to feel good about yourself becomes much more challenging.
Liberals are humans, but they think humans are destroying the planet. They’re Americans, but they think that America is primarily responsible for most of the problems in the world. White liberals wallow in guilt about “white privilege,” which diminishes any sense of personal accomplishment they might have. Liberals firmly believe in the importance of the “collective,” yet they don’t like the collectives they’re parts of.
In regard to love of country, conservatives far exceed liberals. If you’re “proud to be an American” you’re probably a conservative. If you’re ashamed to be an American, you’re probably a liberal.
A fundamental and defining difference between liberals and conservatives is in regard to the locus of responsibility. Liberals place the blame for problems on society, conservatives emphasize individual responsibility.
If you subscribe to the belief that society is primarily in control of what happens to you in life, you’ve essentially “given away your power.” Hence, liberalism is disempowering. If that’s your outlook, you’re stuck. Feelings of impotence are definitely not conducive to happiness. If society is at fault for your circumstances you’re screwed. In other words, if you have to wait for society to cure itself before you can be successful, you’re in for a long, unhappy, and frustrating wait.
Liberals talk endlessly about racism in society. There’s no question that racism is a serious societal problem. Nevertheless, if you believe that you’ll never be successful or happy until racism no longer exists, you’ll be dead and gone long before that happens.
Liberal policies virtually never achieve their stated objectives. In fact, they make things worse. For example, minimum wage laws increase, rather than decrease, poverty and inequality. Liberals can never be happy because their solutions never work.
Most liberal policy objectives are unattainable. One of their dreams is complete equality. That, of course, is never going to happen. Having unachievable objectives leads to never ending frustration, not happiness.
If you’re a liberal you’re not supposed to be happy. You will not feel that you deserve to be happy. If there’s misery anywhere in the world you don’t have the right to be happy.
Liberals are profoundly pessimistic. They think we are going to run out of resources. They believe that climate change will doom us. These are remote possibilities, not certainties. They are worst case scenarios. Liberals disregard and grossly underestimate human creativity and adaptability. Rather than using our vast endowment of fossil fuels for human benefit, liberals want to leave them in the ground.
Liberals’ emotion of choice is guilt. They feel it in their bones and they employ it expertly to achieve their policy objectives and demoralize their opponents. They feel responsible for the sins of their forebears. For example, Democrats are currently distancing themselves from their previous heroes, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. They feel guilty about the past, present, and future. It’s hard to be happy when you’re wallowing in guilt.
There are, of course, liberals who are happy. Nevertheless, they are happy in spite of their political ideology. For most people, including liberals, politics is not everything. If your non-political life is going well and you were born with a happy disposition, you can be mostly happy most of the time.
Even achieving policy objectives don’t make liberals happy for long, the legalizing of same-sex marriage, for example. Almost immediately they start worrying about another societal injustice that needs to be remedied, such as the supposed discrimination against transsexuals.
Political correctness is a liberal creation and is yet another barrier to happiness. Comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock, among others, have lamented that political correctness is killing humor, particularly on college campuses. Constricting and diminishing the role of humor in our lives is about as mean a thing as anyone could do. Again, the result is a reduction in happiness.
One of the interesting ironies of the liberalism-happiness disconnect is that a primary purpose of being a liberal is to feel good about yourself. Liberalism is a self-indulgent, feel-good endeavor and a way to feel superior to others. It gives its adherents a warm feeling when they show concern for minorities, the homeless, or the oppressed. Insofar as happiness is their objective, they’ve taken the wrong road.
If liberals ever wise up about how liberalism is making them miserable, there will be a significant reduction in their ranks. Maybe conservatives should fund-public service announcements with themes such as, “You only get one life to live. Don’t blow it by being a miserable liberal.”
◼ Liberalism and Happiness Don’t Mix August 25, 2015
Ron Ross Ph.D. is a former economics professor and author of The Unbeatable Market. Ron resides in Arcata, California and is a founder of Premier Financial Group, a wealth management firm located in Eureka, California. He is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.