‘Conservatives Work Harder, Feel Happier, Have Closer Families, Take Fewer Drugs, Give More Generously, Value Honesty More, Are Less Materialistic and Envious, Whine Less…and Even Hug Their Children More Than Liberals.” Or so the subtitle of Peter Schweizer’s new book, Makers and Takers, declares. In an interview with National Review Online editor Kathryn Lopez, Schweizer, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, talks a little about what evidence he has for such contentions.
Listen to Schweizer tomorrow when John J. Miller goes “Between the Covers,” in NRO’s twice-weekly audio author feature.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: Conservatives hug their children more than liberals? Haven’t you taken this a little far? What evidence could you possibly have for such a contention?
Peter Schweizer: Actually, that’s what the research shows, according to a study done by scholars at Princeton and Mississippi State. I must say this didn’t surprise my wife very much. When I told her what I found she just shrugged her shoulders and said, “They are probably too busy hugging trees.” My point here is not that liberals are bad parents, but there is lots of evidence that many liberals outsource their responsibilities, including family responsibilities, to the government. And that all of that “family values” talk really does work.
Lopez: You say, too, that conservatives work harder. But Hillary Clinton’s been working pretty darn hard….
Schweizer: Sure there are lazy conservatives and hard working liberals, but there are a dozen studies in academic journals (not done by conservative think tanks) that show conservatives tend to have a better work ethic than liberals. Conservatives are less likely to call in sick, and more interested in assuming responsibilities on the job. The question is why. My theory is that modern liberal thinking basically says you can’t get ahead, the capitalist system is rigged. (The current liberal favorite is that the rich have “won the lottery of life,” meaning that somehow they didn’t earn any of their wealth.) When Pew asked Americans, can you get ahead in America by working hard? Four out of five Republicans said yes you can; amazingly, only 14% of Democrats agreed. Also, there is plenty of research on what conservatives want from a job and what liberals desire. It really is quite fascinating. In sum, conservatives tend to want a job that offers them the opportunity to advance. Liberals tend to desire in high pay and lots of vacation time. Again, I think this reflects the idea that hard work doesn’t pay off, so why bother.
Lopez: So John Dean says conservatives don’t have consciences and you counter that we are smarter and better. How does that help things?
Schweizer: John Dean’s theory (and book) is silly. The entire point is based on theories and concocted studies by academics. No real empirical research. And he believes that bad people are attracted to conservatism, we are all greedy racists to begin with so we embrace conservatism. I believe it goes the other way: liberal ideas have a bad influence on their adherents. And I don’t use theories. All of the material in my book is based on hard numbers and research done by leading universities. These are empirical studies that people never hear about because this research has been suppressed.
Lopez: Is there something at the core of conservatism that makes happier, healthier, etc. only natural.
Schweizer: Yes, I believe so. The first chapter in my book explores all the research that shows how liberals tend to be much more self-absorbed and self-centered than conservatives. Consider this question: Do you have a obligation to care for a seriously injured spouse or parent? 71 percent of conservatives said yes, versus less than half of liberals (46 percent). Liberals are also less likely to get satisfaction from putting someone else’s happiness ahead of their own. Modern liberalism is all about finding yourself and outsourcing your responsibilities to the government. (That’s why conservatives are more charitable than liberals, too.) That’s a depressing way to live your life.
Lopez: I sometimes feel nuts. I definitely read that I’m nuts. But conservatives aren’t by definition?
Schweizer: Actually conservatives are much happier, less angry, and complain less than liberals. Liberals are more likely to complain about their job, their spouse, their kids, and their income . . . even when they earn the same as conservatives! I also discovered that feminists complain more about housework but do less of it than traditional women. Sure, we all feel kind of crazy or down sometimes. But the research is clear: liberals tend to feel that way a lot more than conservatives do. Several academic studies have found that liberals are more likely to attempt suicide than conservatives.