Monday, May 18, 2009

Republicans and Happiness

A new Pew Research Center survey shows that Republicans as a group are happier than Democrats. And this is not, as some might assume, because Republican are wealthier than Democrats (one need only look to Hollywood to see that money does not always equate with Republican Party identity). Adjusting for income, Republicans, whether rich or poor, were happier than their economic counterparts in the other party.

I’m not surprised. Being a Republican means having a clear set of values devoid of the moral relativity that plagues the Democrats. When you fail to have a clear concept of good and bad or right and wrong, it can leave you ungrounded and unsure. You have no touchstone on which to rely, no way to assess the merit or worth of anything. If there is no clear better or worse, then how do you know if you’ve achieved a satisfying result? How can you ever be happy if there is nothing you value as superior to something else? If everything is relative, then nothing is special.

This is why having a leader who represents Democratic Party values is a mistake. If you believe that Hugo Chavez or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Kim Il-Sung are merely friends we haven’t yet made, you don’t understand friendship. If Benjamin Netanyahu and Gordon Brown are not more important to you than the Castros, then you have no clear cut values. If everyone is treated the same, with no accounting for their character and behavior, then we have moral chaos. This is not the road to peace, it’s a path to our own destruction.

Republicans tend to believe in the inherent ability and value of each person and to trust that people can achieve if they are free to do so. Democrats view people as victims of some wrong or another who need to be taken care of and shown what to do. This is why the Democratic Party proposes the golden handcuffs that come with the welfare state. They don’t want to see individual achievement; they want to have their hand in whatever anyone accomplishes. They need to justify their existence and their continuing control over our daily lives.

The Democrats love the story of Robin Hood and have taken it upon themselves to take from the rich and give to the poor, in some twisted notion of nobility. In reality, they are trying to make the successful feel guilty about their success and the unfortunate believe that their situation is beyond their control and they own the government their very life. This is a dysfunctional relationship that any therapist would encourage you to run from – but it is the basic economic and social platform of the Democrats.

Republicans have no trouble prioritizing, Democrats cannot choose. Republicans put their country first and their family first. Democrats think this is arrogant, biased and uncaring – we should treat all nations, all people the same. It must be hard to figure out if you’re happy or not if you don’t consider one thing more important than another.

Despite the campaign rhetoric from last year, it is the Republicans who believe in hope, the Democrats who believe in doom and gloom. The Democrats ignore any evidence that the world is not coming to an end – scientific studies that dispute the global warming hysteria, for example. The more diseases we get a handle on, the more new threats the Democrats raise (high fructose corn syrup follows second-hand smoke as the scourge of the world). Carbon emissions! Saturated Fats! There’s a new calamity just around the corner for the Democrats.

Republicans aren’t putting their heads in the sand, but they are willing to be satisfied. Republicans can be content, without being complacent. We can appreciate the good, without ignoring the bad. But it takes discernment and a willingness to make value judgments to do that. So, if the Republican Party is on its way out as many in the media are saying, does that mean that happiness is also endangered?

If you see yourself as an optimistic person, with clear values and morals, and you’re not yet a Republican, maybe you should rethink that decision. You might find some happiness here.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Farewell to Jack Kemp

Jack Kemp passed away this weekend. It’s a sad reality that his passing was better covered by the sports media, who respectfully recalled the former quarterback, than the mainstream media. Kemp was a true ideologue and visionary in the best sense of both words. He believed in something and put his beliefs into action. He wasn’t a politician out of any need for attention or power, but because he wanted to make the world a better place. Only his view of a better world was not the unrealistic, Utopian Kumbaya of the liberals but grounded in economic and political reality. And he eschewed knee-jerk right wing politics for a kinder, gentler capitalist agenda that, if realized, would benefit all Americans.

I once looked to him as the future of the Republican Party. He was the original “compassionate conservative,” the real deal. He was a Republican through and through, yet realized the GOP would need to remind the public of its heart if it wanted to maintain its status. It was quite a blow to me when Kemp finally had the national stage, during his run for VP, when he was unable to articulate his position as well as he had previously. During his debate with the robotic and un-charismatic Gore, Kemp was surprisingly incapable of conveying his passion or his message. It was a golden opportunity missed, and Kemp never regained the national stage.

Still, he continued to speak and his voice was worth listening to. Not long after Obama’s win, Kemp wrote, “the GOP needs to rethink and revisit its historic roots as a party of emancipation, liberation, civil rights and equality of opportunity for all.” He was right, again. The Republican Party cannot hand over those issues to the Democrats and hope to win elections in the future. We need to remind the pubic of our core values and how they will make for a stronger America. Kemp took bold stands – his position in favor of drastic changes to the federal tax code, including imposition of a form of a flat tax, was radical, but more necessary today than ever. And as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development he showed that Republican and concern for the poor were not mutually exclusive concepts.

With our party in disarray, we could use a man like Jack Kemp. We need to be the party of strong values, visionary ideas and concern for the health and safety of all Americans. Let’s honor Jack Kemp by living up to his ideals and shaping our party to be a shining beacon for liberty, freedom and justice for all.