There is an old cliché that when you are young you are a liberal, and when older, you are a conservative. There have been various versions attributed to a number of great people.
One iteration has it, “If you aren’t a liberal when you’re young, you have no heart, but if you aren’t a middle-aged conservative you have no head.”
The statesman Edmund Burke, who supported the American Revolution, is believed to have said, “Anyone who is not a Republican at twenty casts doubt on the generosity of his soul; but he who after twenty years, perseveres, casts doubt on the soundness of his mind.”
John Adams reportedly said, “A boy of fifteen who is not a Democrat is good for nothing and he is no better who is a Democrat at twenty.”
Winston Churchill is attributed either incorrectly or appropriately as having said, “If you’re not a liberal when you are 25 you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you are 35, you have no brain.”
Now that I have established that conservatives have a more sane and rational view of the world, I would like to discuss their advanced level of happiness.
In an op-ed on November 27 by Brad Wilcox, Hal Boyd, and Wendy Wang entitled, “How Liberals Can Be Happier,” they take it as a given that conservatives are happier than liberals. They say at the outset, “It’s a puzzling but well-established finding: conservatives are more likely than liberals to report they are happy.”
They do their best to try to figure out why this is so. They quote Arthur Brooks of Harvard, who has a very good handle on the situation. He says, “A lot of our happiness is out of our control, based on genetics and circumstances. But some of it we can control. It requires we invest in four things each day. These four connections are faith, family, friends, and work in which we earn our success and serve others.”
The authors conclude correctly that “self-identified liberals are less likely than conservatives on average to be tied to family, faith, and community.”
They found that there is a 14% difference between liberals and conservatives age 18-55 who are married. A minority of liberals are married whereas a majority of conservatives are married.
The difference between liberals and conservatives in their attendance at religious services was even more stark at 26%.
Even Pew Research on happiness found that Republicans reached greater happiness than their Democratic counterparts because of “more marriage, greater family satisfaction and higher levels of religious attendance.”
Wilcox, Boyd, and Wang conclude by urging Democrats to understand that “Individual happiness is more likely to be found not by directly pursuing it but by embracing social institutions that call on us to focus first on the welfare of others.”
Unfortunately, liberals consider these very same institutions an anathema.
In order to advance civilization, society must preserve, uphold, and strengthen the institutions of marriage, religion, family, and community.
In the Senator Scoop Jackson era, Democrats understood this. In the current environment, Democrats have brought a sledgehammer to these very institutions.
It is time to wake up and get back to the fundamentals. Of course conservatives are happier than liberals. Conservatives start out way ahead, having mastered the basics. They do not have to spend precious time to relearn them. They can invest their twenty-four hours a day in fixing society in a practical and rational way.
Dr. Joe Frager is Chairman of the Israel Advocacy Commission for the Rabbinical Alliance of America; Chairman of the Executive Committee of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim; Dean at Kollel Ayshel Avraham; Executive Vice President of the Israel Heritage Foundation; and a physician in practice for 41 years.