Politics & Policy

Modern Liberals, Whine Connoisseurs

An introductory class from Barack & Michelle Obama.

We now are down to two presidential candidates. One went to the Ivy League and Harvard Law School as a young man. The other spent years of his youth in a Vietnam Prisoner of War camp and suffered lifelong injuries. Guess which one whines more about his hardships?

Barack Obama is many things — a senator, a gifted orator, and a charismatic figure. But he’s also a whiner.

In recent months he’s complained about the questions during the ABC News debate with Hillary Clinton because they were not to his liking and whined that the media coverage of McCain wasn’t harsh enough. (Pretty rich coming from Obama.) He whines that scrutiny of his wife’s statements are mean and “low class” and that media scrutiny of his connection to convicted felon Tony Rezko is unfair because he was poorly served by his staff. He claims he is a victim in the Rev. Wright controversy and that the black church is being harshly attacked. Then there is the non-whine whine in the NBC News debate, in which he said that Hillary Clinton “has consistently sent out negative attacks on us, email, robo-calls, flyers, television ads, radio calls, and we haven’t whined about it….”

Michelle Obama whines about the burdens of paying for piano lessons and summer camp for the kids, and the paying off the student loans for her two Ivy League degrees. “The salaries don’t keep up with the cost of paying off the debt,” she complained when the Obamas cleared half a million a year, “so you’re in your 40s, still paying off your debt at a time when you have to save for your kids.” America is “just downright mean,” she whines and then tells an audience recently in Charlotte, N.C. that “they” (whoever that might be) were constantly changing the rules for the contest and that “they” are constantly trying to undermine her husband. “They raise the bar. Raise the bar. Shift it to the side. Keep it just out of reach.” Gee, isn’t this about the delegate count?

But the Obamas’ penchant for whining didn’t begin with the presidential campaign. Michelle Obama, in her Princeton undergraduate thesis titled “Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community”, complains of “further integration and/or assimilation into a white cultural and social structure that will only allow me to remain on the periphery of society; never becoming a full participant.” Never mind that she just graduated from a prestigious Ivy League school. Barack Obama complains throughout his book Dreams From My Father about the slights, insults, and injustices he suffered. Not that there is anything dramatic. There were those two white friends who came to an all-black party and kept “smiling a lot” because they were uncomfortable. When they told him after “I can see how it must be tough for you and at sometimes being the only black guys and all.” This offends Obama, who writes, “A part of me wanted to punch him right there.” Obama complains about “white man’s rules,” and how unjust things are, but can’t really offer any difficulty or act of outright bigotry that happened to him. “People were satisfied so long as you were courteous and smiled and made no sudden moves.” Alas, the harsh light of oppression.

Barack Obama published this memoir of complaint just five years after leaving law school. Senator John McCain waited 25 years to write a book about the real-life horrors of life in a prisoner of war camp.

Many observers believe that Barack Obama secured the liberal base of the Democratic party because he was antiwar from the beginning. But I think it’s because he mastered the art of complaining and won over the Whine Caucus. Today the Democratic party is dominated by groups making claims of victim status — blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, unwed mothers, artists, pampered academics, environmental activists, the poor, the unemployed, animal rights activists, women, homosexuals. As Michael Crowley openly admits on Slate: “What does define and unify the [Democratic] party is a sense of victimhood.”

A wide body of research shows that modern liberals are much more likely to complain about things in their lives. Conservatives are more content with their lives. When asked “How satisfied are you with life these days? Sixty-six percent of conservatives said “very satisfied” compared with only 46 percent of liberals. Conservatives are more likely to say they love their jobs (53 percent vs. 41 percent) and even enjoy their hobbies more (63 percent vs. 51 percent). When asked by the Social Capital Survey whether they were satisfied with their income, liberals were more than three times as likely to say “not at all satisfied” — even when they earned the same as conservatives.

When it comes to something like housework, Democrats are much more likely to complain that the division of work in their home “is unfair to me” than Republicans. In fact, they are five times as likely to whine about it. Another study in The Journal of Applied Psychology found that feminist women do less housework than traditional women — but complain more about it.

On a more serious note, researchers writing in The American Journal of Psychiatry and The Journal of Marriage and Family found that liberals are more likely to attempt suicide than conservatives.

Liberals are also more likely to whine that they are unhappy in their marriages and declare that their health is “fair or poor” than conservatives. Even when you control for income, these gaps exist. Unless you are willing to believe that certain illnesses afflict only certain political groups, something else is at work here.

Barack Obama understands the language of victimhood and uses it effectively. And victimhood has become a central tenant of modern liberalism. As Kenneth Minogue argues in his classic book The Liberal Mind, modern liberalism is completely wrapped up in “suffering situations.”

So as the campaign continues, get used to more acts of whining and complaining. It’s part of modern liberalism. Wendy Kaminer understood this perfectly when she wrote in The Atlantic Monthly: “Personally, I reserve the right to complain and even whine about whatever injustices are visited upon me — bad haircuts, bad boyfriends, and bad reviews. I have always believed in complaining — in one view, that makes me a liberal.”

– Peter Schweizer is author of Makers and Takers: 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.


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