According to a recent poll, on average, conservatives are happier than liberals.
Researcher and senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute W. Bradford Wilcox summarized the poll this way, “Liberals, especially liberal women, are significantly less likely to be happy with their lives and satisfied with their ‘mental health’, compared to their conservative peers aged from 18-55.”
But as John Ghlionn asks at The Federalist, “Is Anyone Surprised?”
Let’s focus first on liberal women.
As evidenced by voting patterns and as confirmed by lifestyle, politically liberal women are more likely to be pro-abortion and less likely to have large families.
Consequently, for the average liberal woman, having babies of her own would be less important than for conservative women. This is not to say liberal mothers do not love their children, just comparing averages.
As noted by Joshua Kirsch on the Fatherly.com website: “Liberals are not having enough babies to keep up with conservatives. Arthur Brooks, a social scientist at Syracuse University, was the first to point this out all the way back in 2006…when he went on ABC News and blew blue staters minds … a random sample of 100 conservative adults will raise 208 children, while 100 liberal adults will raise a mere 147 kids. That’s a massive gap.”
This would also be in harmony with the fact that, on average, both women and men who vote Democrat identify as less religious than women and men who vote Republican. And people who are more religious tend to have more children than people who are not religious.
But how does this relate to the question of happiness? Wilcox states that “the lesson here is obvious. Marriage and family are strongly linked to happiness and to personal mental health in particular.”
Unfortunately, he writes, too many liberals “have embraced the false narrative that the path to happiness runs counter to marriage and family life, not towards it. They think independence, freedom and work will make them happy, which is why significant portions of the popular media are filled these days with stories celebrating divorce and singleness.”
To be sure, there are happy people, both conservative and liberal, who are single or married without children. At the same time, there is nothing that reminds us of what matters most than having children. There is nothing like having children of our own that teaches us that contentment is not found in possessions or accomplishments, but in solid familial relationships.
The more this is downplayed in liberal circles, and the more children are considered a burden, the less overall happiness there will be.
Of course, children bring many a sleepless night and plenty of stress. There’s no denying that. But since God ordained the family unit, it would stand to reason that a healthy family unit is the foundation for a healthy and happy society.
In 1947, Harvard sociologist Carle C. Zimmerman already saw that the family was fragmenting. In his classic book Family and Civilization, Zimmerman wrote about the rise of individualism. He saw a birth-control culture leading to more, not less abortions. He saw the destructive power of adultery and divorce. And all of this, of course, ties in with the question of individual happiness and mental and emotional wellbeing.
That’s why in my book Saving a Sick America, I listed this as the first principle in recovering God’s purpose for the family: We must regain our appreciation of marriage, family, and children.
Liberals, by and large, have failed to embrace this principle.
I am convinced that to the extent we embrace the larger biblical principles of morality — including abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage — we will be happier and emotionally healthier.
In fact, numerous studies have confirmed that individuals find the most satisfaction within the bonds of marriage. A 2016 study even indicated that “women with between zero and one sexual partner are the least likely to divorce later on, with women who had 10 or more partners emerging as the most likely to see their marriages end, according to the Institute for Family Studies.”
This, of course, is the precise opposite of what Hollywood often tells us.
And what about simply affirming biological realities? Who will be happier, those who recognize that there’s a fundamental difference between men and women vs. those who believe that gender is simply a matter of perception?
What about affirming God-ordained relationships? Won’t those recognizing marriage as the union of a man and a woman have more enduring happiness than those who define marriage as the union of any two people?
Finally, there is the all-important element of faith in God and being part of a community of faith.
As Ghlionn noted, “researchers at Pew have shown, those who actively participate in religious ceremonies (prayer, choir singing, etc.) ‘tend to be happier and more civically engaged than either religiously unaffiliated adults or inactive members of religious groups.’ . . . Millions of Americans on both sides of the political aisle live lonely existences. Coming together on a Sunday (or Friday or Saturday) and sharing an experience with people possessing similar values brings some much-needed joy into their lives.”
All the more is true when those coming together genuinely connect with God, giving them grounding, purpose, comfort, hope, wisdom, assurance, perseverance, and so much more. Who can put a price tag on this when it comes to abiding happiness and inner contentment?
There are certainly other factors at play here. But overall, it should surprise no one that, on average, conservatives are happier than liberals.
Hopefully, we happy and content conservatives can be a living advertisement to the rest of the world that our values, when embraced and lived out, really do bear good fruit.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. He holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a professor at a number of seminaries and is the author of 40 books. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.