There’s an old cliché that when you’re young, you’re a liberal, and when you’re older, you’re 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 Anglo-Irish statesman Edmund Burke, who supported the American Revolution, is believed to have said, “Anyone who is not a Republican at 20 casts doubt on the generosity of his soul; but he who after 20 years, perseveres, casts doubt on the soundness of his mind.”
John Adams reportedly said, “A boy of 15 who is not a Democrat is good for nothing and he is no better who is a Democrat at 20.” Winston Churchill allegedly 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 a Nov. 25 New York Times op-ed titled “How liberals can be happier,” authors Brad Wilcox, Hal Boyd and Wendy Wang write: “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 saying, “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 percent difference between liberals and conservatives aged 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 is even starker, at 26 percent.
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’s 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 24 hours a day in fixing society in a practical and rational way.
Dr. Joseph Frager is a lifelong activist and physician. He is chairman of Israel advocacy for the Rabbinical Alliance of America, chairman of the executive committee of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim, and executive vice president of the Israel Heritage Foundation.