The Liberal Mind, Part 1

01/23/09

By John Eberhard

I have been keenly interested in politics since the late 1970s. I grew up in a very liberal household, but by the late 70s started to realize that it was no longer for me. For one thing, I started to see that the welfare state promoted indigence and dependency, and liberalism was promoting a victim mentality which holds back those who embrace it.

Since then I have been studying politics intently, reading over 40 books on politics over the last five years since I started the web site www.CommonSenseGovernment.com.

One of the things that I have been trying to figure out is why liberals believe the things they do. I will admit that it has been a difficult task, since as a conservative I hold to beliefs that are almost completely opposite to what most liberals believe. And liberals hold many beliefs that seem to me to be what Ann Coulter calls “counter intuitive.”

I recently read a fascinating book called “Makers and Takers” by Peter Schweizer that has shed some light on the liberal mind for me. The subtitle is “Why 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.”

Schweizer researched a large number of research surveys and other statistical information to debunk many of the myths spread by liberals about conservatives.

There is one piece of information in this book which I think is very basic and fundamental in terms of explaining why liberals believe as they do and explaining the difference between liberals and conservatives. It has to do with the way liberals and conservatives view the idea of work and whether hard work leads to reward.

Says Schweizer “For many Americans, the American Dream is really about the Protestant Work Ethic: work hard, be frugal, get a good education, keep your nose clean, and you will be all right.

“But that notion is rejected by a large number of liberals today. They see very little connection between diligence, effort, and wealth. Congressman Richard Gephardt argued a few years back that the wealthiest and most successful Americans were simply those who had ‘won the lottery of life.’”

“An extensive survey by the Pew Research Center found that three out of four Republicans believe that people can get ahead by working hard. Four out of five believe that everyone has the power to succeed. But Democrats have much less faith in the value of hard work. Only 14 percent believe that people can get ahead by working hard, according to the survey. And only 44 percent believe that everyone has the power to succeed. This is not a case of ‘rich’ Republicans believing one thing and ‘poor’ Democrats another. Even when you compare Republicans and Democrats of the same income, the gap still exists.”

“What this means is that many modern liberals believe differences in wealth are a result of dumb luck rather than hard work and a diligent attitude. It should therefore not be surprising that according to one scientific survey, liberals are two and a half times as likely to play the lottery or gamble in the hope of getting rich.”

This fact is incredible, and very revealing. 75% of Republicans believe you can get ahead by working hard, compared to 14% for Democrats. 86% of Democrats don’t believe that hard work allows you get ahead! The book also quotes many leading liberals in stating that the idea that you should work hard is “ridiculous,” a “seductive myth,” a “profoundly conservative, if not reactionary agenda,” and that the game is “rigged.”

So if someone believes that hard work does not really allow one to get ahead, that the whole idea is a sham and the game is rigged, then they would tend to believe:

  • That those who are more well off were just lucky, or worse, that they became well off by taking advantage of others
  • That the poor are victims, not responsible for their condition in life
  • That the poor cannot do anything to change their condition
  • That it is necessary to tax and punish the wealthy, in the name of “fairness” (as does Barack Obama), and redistribute wealth by giving that money to the poor
  • That it is necessary to rig the game in the other direction, giving special consideration to minorities (affirmative action)
  • That welfare is necessary to spread the wealth around
  • That government is the only solution to an inherently unfair situation

All of the above ideas ARE those held by liberals. The belief on hard work not leading to reward seems to be a basic part of their belief system.

On the other hand, conservatives, 75% of whom by survey believe that hard work DOES lead to getting ahead, would then tend to believe:

  • That those who are well off, for the most part, are those who have worked hard for it
  • That people should be allowed to keep the fruits of their labors
  • That the poor can control their situation, and can and should get ahead by working hard, getting an education, and so on
  • That income redistribution, as called for by Marx in “The Communist Manifesto,” is wrong
  • That affirmative action is wrong because it does not reward people based on merit
  • That welfare rewards and encourages indigence and dependency
  • That the only solution is to a person’s bad situation is within himself
  • That personal responsibility is vital

Looking at the above list, you can see that those are conservative ideas.

So whether or not YOU believe that hard work will lead to getting ahead, will determine which set of beliefs you favor.

In my next article I will discuss more about the differences between liberals and conservatives and their beliefs and behaviors.

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