Don’t get me wrong. Not every conservative has a winning personality and not every liberal is a toothache in search of a mouth to inhabit. In fact, one of the single nicest people I know is a liberal (Hi, Julie Joyce!) Yet and still, it’s not a reach to say that most liberals, especially the ones that are politically active, are just generally difficult to get along with.
It’s not just me saying that either. I’ve interviewed more than one big name conservative who has told me that they moved over to the right in large part because the other liberals they were around were such insufferable human beings.
John Hawkins: …I always find the stories of people who ideologically move from the left to the right to be fascinating and I noticed that you used to be a liberal who even worked for Ron Dellums…
Michael Medved: Ron Dellums helped to make me a conservative.
John Hawkins: How so? What caused you to move to the right?
Michael Medved: First of all, even at the time I went to work for Dellums, I knew better. Because I was never that far out. I mean I supported Robert
Kennedy, not Eugene McCarthy.
John Hawkins: Dellums was even a Communist, wasn’t he?
Michael Medved: Yeah, he basically was. I worked for Dellums for 6 weeks and then I couldn’t stand it anymore. Because I think he so clearly demonstrated some of the most malign and malevolent tendencies of the American Left. Corruption, drug use, Communist sympathies if not Communist party membership.
John Hawkins: A related question, I guess you would have been pretty surprised when you said in the book that while Christians “hold religious beliefs against homosexuality,” they are some of the most tolerant, understanding, and kind people I have ever met. So was that a big surprise for you when you weren’t getting condemned?
Tammy Bruce: Yes, it was; it was shocking. For me it was quite life-changing in my sense of how I viewed the world and I was also, when it comes to my view of Christians, quite surprised by how happy they were. I mean, I remember being on the left; no one is happy, trust me. They (are the) biggest group of miserable people you would ever want to meet. Everything is wrong, everything is going bad, everyone is after you, everyone wants to get you, people are building camps.
To speak with finally, on talk radio, with Christians, I was struck first by the genuine happiness from these people and also the fact that even though they disagreed with me, finally I was having conversations with people who were curious, disagreed with me, but didn’t want to hurt me, were interested in persuading me, and it was quite a revelation, I have to say. I owe my beginning in talk radio to that kind of — it’s the only place really where you can have that kind of exchange between someone like myself and conservative Christians and have it be safe and have it be really life-transforming.
Why are liberals so unpleasant to be around?
1) They’re unhappy: Study after study shows that conservatives are happier people than liberals. The difference can be staggering.
In 2004, people who said they were conservative or very conservative were nearly twice as likely to say they were very happy as people who called themselves liberal or very liberal (44 percent versus 25 percent). Conservatives were only half as likely to say they were not too happy (9 versus 18 percent).
Unhappy people are generally disagreeable because when you’re miserable, you tend to become very selfish. If you want an example of how that works, go hit yourself on the hand with a hammer and while you’re writhing in agony, see how much time you spend thinking about helping other people as opposed to wishing you hadn’t smashed your own hand.
2) Liberals don’t care as much about tradition: Although it goes without saying that people who worship change for change’s sake don’t care very much about customs, you might wonder why that would make such a big difference. Well, as Thomas Sowell has noted, “Civilization has been aptly called a ‘thin crust over a volcano.’ The anointed are constantly picking at that crust.”
In many cases, societal conventions represent the accumulated wisdom of previous generations. Through trial and error, they discovered that there are certain things you can do that help keep a society running well. There are reasons why people get together and sing Christmas carols in the town square, refuse to insult people immediately after they die, treat marriage as sacred, and don’t turn funerals into campaign rallies. Because liberals tend to think they’re smarter than all those old dead people simply by virtue of being liberal, they tend to ignore those conventions and create disorder and havoc around themselves in the process.
3) Liberals see people who disagree as evil: Liberals see themselves as part of a Manichean struggle in which they’re trying to create Utopia on earth while they’re being opposed by people who want to do evil for evil’s sake. In other words, liberals are about as complex as your average comic book from the fifties. As Charles Krauthammer has said,
To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.
When you attribute disagreements with Barack Obama to racism, opposition to gay marriage to homophobia, standing against abortion as hatred of women, and a desire to balance the budget to loathing of the poor, you have a hopelessly simplistic view of the world that makes you utterly impervious to reason. Stupid, you may be able to educate, but evil, you have to defeat — and liberals are seldom picky about the means or the manners they use while trying to do so.
4) Liberals aren’t very religious: Liberals are overwhelmingly either atheists or agnostics, people who don’t take their religious beliefs very seriously in the first place, or people who allow their ideology to completely subvert their religious beliefs. This is no small matter because religion is one of the great civilizing forces. That’s not to say that even sincere practitioners of a religion always do the right thing because as Rick Warren has noted, “The church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints.” However, if you take human beings with open minds, put them in a pew and expose them to “Love thy neighbour as thyself” and “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” long enough, it will curb their nature and make them into much better people than they otherwise would have been.
5) Liberalism encourages arrogance: Liberals tend to believe they’re brilliant, compassionate, moral, enlightened, perceptive, and courageous, not because of anything they’ve actually done, but just because they’re liberal. When you completely divorce a person’s self image from his behavior, it produces terrible results — like liberals who hurl abuse at conservative women while believing that they’re feminists or selfish left-wingers who’ve never given a dime to charity, but believe themselves to be much more compassionate than people who tithe 10% of their income.
Now, on some level, liberals know this is all a big sham. But, even that can be problematic because unstable high self-esteem actually causes more bad behavior and violent behavior than low self-esteem. As Roy Baumeister noted in Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty,
The sequence goes something like this. Someone tells you that you are not very competent at something. If you are a shame-prone person, you start to experience that sinking feeling that the other person may be right and this is not the only thing that you are bad at, and maybe you are just a worthless loser in general. You start to feel panic, anxiety, and misery, and your heart beats faster. To break free of those feelings, you reject the premise. You are not incompetent in the way the other person said. The other person had no right to say that to you, and he’s completely wrong. Your feelings are now directed outward at him, instead of yourself, and the effects of your faster heartbeat and general arousal transfer into intense anger at the person who has so unfairly insulted you. You want to hit him.
Congratulations! You’ve just graduated from “Interactions with Liberals 101.”