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Peter Schweizer: Liberals Are More Selfish Than Conservatives

Ronald Kessler By Monday, 02 June 2008 01:51 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Contrary to the image they try to project, liberals are less compassionate and more selfish than conservatives, according to a new book by Peter Schweizer.

Drawing on extensive attitude surveys, Schweizer’s “Makers and Takers: 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,” which comes out this week, says liberals are much more likely than conservatives to think about themselves first and are less willing to make sacrifices for others. [Editor's Note: Get Peter Schweizer's book. Go here now.]

Some 71 percent of conservatives say they have an obligation to care for a seriously injured spouse or parent, compared with 46 percent for liberals. Asked if they would endure all things for the one they love, 55 percent of conservatives say yes, compared with 26 percent of liberals.

Equally revealing, liberals are far more likely to say they are depressed and to view the world bleakly. Schweizer attributes that to an attitude that they and those around them are victims and helpless unless the government intervenes.

In answer to a question from Newsmax, Schweizer says that may help explain why liberal politicians and reporters tend to see everything with pessimism, from the economy to the war on terror and the war in Iraq.

Schweizer says the media and liberal professors have successfully obscured these differences by painting a picture of conservatives as mean-spirited. He quotes one professor as saying that conservatives embrace the “unimpeded pursuit of self-interest” to get what they want and that as children, they were insecure and whiny.

Conservatives are selfish, Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s former labor secretary, has said, and “they pander to the worst of us.”

Sen. Charles Schumer said on Bill Maher’s HBO show “Real Time,” “There are some, you know, there are some anti-Semites in this county, but most of them would vote Republican anyway.”

Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean has said conservatives and Republicans are “evil,” “corrupt,” brain-dead,” and “not very nice people” who have “never made an honest living in their lives.”

If Schweizer’s book is a ground-breaker, it also raises the question of why Schweizer’s findings may come as a surprise even to conservatives. Schweizer cites ample evidence that the media have ignored good news about conservatives and have helped perpetuate the myth that liberals are more compassionate and caring.

Katie Couric has said that during the Reagan era, "greed and materialism was the norm.” Alan Colmes of Fox News’ "Hannity & Colmes" has said that “Jesus was a liberal” because he was much more generous with limited resources than a conservative would be.

Liberals Perpetuate the Myth

“The media have perpetuated these myths about conservatives over the years,” Schweizer tells Newsmax. “And the media were very comfortable passing these things along because they conformed to their world view."

Drawing on hard polling data, Schweizer demonstrates that the truth is quite the opposite. In doing so, he explodes more myths than firecrackers on the Fourth of July.

In fact, Schweizer writes, self-described liberals and Democrats, who profess to be tolerant, are much more likely to embrace stereotypes of Jews than conservatives or Republicans. Some 45 percent of self-described “strong” Democrats or liberals agree with the statement that Jews are inordinately rich and money-driven, compared with 36 percent of strong Republicans and conservatives.

Schweizer cites similar research to show that even when they are in the same income brackets, liberals are far more likely to complain about their jobs, families, neighbors, health, and their relative wealth than conservatives.

Liberals are much more likely to say that money is important to them, according to the surveys Schweizer cites. They are two and a half times more likely to be resentful of others’ success and 50 percent more likely to be jealous of other people’s good luck. Conservatives are much more likely than liberals to spend time with their families, hug their children, and be close to their parents.

Liberals tend to work less hard and are more likely than conservatives to embrace leisure time as desirable. When asked if competition is good, those who defined themselves as very liberal say yes only 14 percent of the time, compared with 43 percent for conservatives.

Liberals are more likely to say that truth is something that is “relative.” When asked if they believe in ghosts, 42 percent of liberals say they do, compared with 25 percent of conservatives. Liberals are more likely to say that’s it’s OK to be dishonest or deceptive, cheat on taxes, keep money that doesn’t belong to them, and sell a used car with a faulty transmission to a family member.

Overall, conservatives are more satisfied with their lives, their professions, and their health compared with liberals of the same age and income level.

Schweizer balances these findings with a few issues where liberals come out ahead. He says liberals are more likely than conservatives to be open to new experiences in travel, art, and music. But Schweizer exposes hypocrisy at the core of liberal beliefs. While liberals claim to be compassionate and to care about the poor, conservatives are much more likely to donate their time and money to charitable causes.

When Reich ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, his tax returns revealed income of more than $1 million, but he contributed just $2,714 to charity, or less than 0.3 percent.

Ned Lamont, the anti-war Democrat who ran against Sen. Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, is worth $200 million and made $2.8 million in 2005. He has talked about the need to raise taxes because the wealthy are not doing enough to help those in need. Yet in 2005, he donated only $5,385 to charity, or less than 0.2 percent of his income.

In contrast, George Bush gave 10 percent of his income to charity in 2005. In 2005, Barack Obama made $1.7 million, or 2.5 times what Bush made that year, but gave the same amount to charity as Bush did. That same year, Dick Cheney gave away 77 percent of his income to charity.

Proud Conservatives

While Schweizer does not address attitudes about national security (the subject of his next book), he says liberals are more concerned about what others think than conservatives. When asked what is most important to prepare a child for life, 40 percent of liberals listed “being popular” among them, compared with 24 percent of conservatives.

On the other hand, conservatives were more likely to say one of their main goals in life is to “make my parents proud.” Presumably, those who are more concerned about what others think are more likely to be concerned about criticism of firm national security policies.

Finally, liberals try to paint conservatives as dumb — Clark Clifford called Ronald Reagan an “amiable dunce.” Schweizer shows that while John Kerry scored in the 91st percentile on a military IQ test, George Bush scored in the 95th percentile. Contrary to misrepresentations in the media, Bush also had slightly higher grades at Yale than Kerry.

Schweizer attributes liberals’ bleaker outlook on life to their deep-seated victim mentality.

This feeds a view that they cannot help themselves and encourages them to be passive. They are far more likely to say that luck or fate plays a role in their lives, as opposed to citing the need to take action themselves.

The victim mentality, in turn, makes them more likely to become depressed, suffer from a nervous breakdown, attempt suicide, be chronically angry, throw something in a fit of anger, seek revenge, and have a bleak outlook on life in general.

In one survey, 34 percent of liberals said the problems of life were just too big to cope with, compared with 19 percent of conservatives.

“Liberals often feel overwhelmed by life’s problems because they are waiting for the government to fix them,” Schweizer says. “”When it doesn’t, liberals blame others (and ‘society’) for their misfortune.” Thus, liberalism “often damages its own adherents the most,” Schweitzer says.

“Modern liberal ideas consistently encourage bad habits and destructive behavioral tendencies,” says Schweizer, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Schweizer says liberalism is appealing because it gives lip service to lofty ideals but demands little action. Liberalism considers as noble those who complain about personal difficulties and display anger or denounce our “money-making culture,” but liberalism does not stress taking personal responsibility and action.

Thus, “While liberals tend to be much more fixated on money, they convince themselves that if they hold the belief that our society is too obsessed by money, the money culture doesn’t influence them adversely the way that it does other people,” Schweizer says.

“Modern liberalism is a wonderful tool to kind of avoid having to make much change in your life,” Schweizer says. “It’s kind of in my mind the equivalent to carbon offsets. You don’t need to change anything in your life, you simply have to sort of stamp this document or pay this minor price, and the problems in your life just sort of go away.”

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
e-mail. Go here now.

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Contrary to the image they try to project, liberals are less compassionate and more selfish than conservatives, according to a new book by Peter Schweizer. Drawing on extensive attitude surveys, Schweizer’s “Makers and Takers: Why Conservatives Work Harder, Feel Happier,...
Monday, 02 June 2008 01:51 PM
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