Replacing former President Donald Trump with President Joe Biden was supposed to bring joy to the land from sea to sea. We were going to be a united people at last. Every problem known to man would get solved by cradle-to-grave government. Biden was even going to save us from the rise of the oceans.
But just the opposite: A survey by the University of Chicago found that record percentages of people in 2021 described themselves as “unhappy.”
For most of the past 50 years, about 1 in 10 people have described themselves as unhappy. In 2021, 1 in 4 say they are unhappy. Typically, almost 1 in 3 say they are “very happy,” and now less than 1 in 5 do. The happiness index is falling like a stone. People are depressed.
Gee, I wonder why the public is so glum all of a sudden.
Let me count the ways. First, there is isolation and loneliness from lockdowns, stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions. Then there is out-of-control crime and a significant rise in business failures (from lockdowns), both clearly associated with depression. People are still worried about their health two years into the pandemic that Biden promised to shut down. The border is out of control.
Then there is the financial stress on families from everything being more expensive. Children are depressed because schools are still doing remote learning or they are stuck wearing masks for eight hours a day. The “woke” movement has people feeling like they are tied inside a social straitjacket. Nothing is funny anymore. Don’t you dare say an off-color joke or you will be banished.
People are afraid to laugh at anything for fear of offending someone somewhere. When was the last time you saw a funny movie?
But here’s what’s most interesting about the results of the happiness survey. The people with the most significant happiness deficiencies are Democratic voters. Liberals are miserable. Only 1 in 6 Democratic voters say they are “very happy.” Almost twice as many Republicans say they are “very happy.”
Why is that? I have several admittedly unproven hypotheses. I will toss them out, and readers can decide for themselves if they agree or disagree.
First, liberals are much less religious, patriotic and interested in getting married and having children than conservatives. It’s a Grand Canyon-sized division between liberals and conservatives. I’d venture to say that the love of country, God and family make people happy.
If you don’t believe in these things, you will likely believe in false idols, such as big government, as your savior. That’s hardly a path to happiness.
Liberals are less likely to be working and more likely to be on government assistance. But every study shows that work is highly associated with happiness. Giving a person a fish rather than teaching a person to fish leads to very different life satisfaction outcomes.
Liberals also live their lives in fear. Liberals are much more likely to believe that global warming will doom us than are conservatives. To listen to some of the more fanatical climate change worriers, they seem almost to want global warming to happen so we can pay penance for our sins to the planet. Similarly, from the start of the pandemic until recently, liberals were twice as likely to be “very worried” about COVID-19 than conservatives. There is something sociologically different about how liberals view risks than conservatives.
Finally, there is the geographical separation between conservatives camped in red states and liberals camped in blue states — the two Americas. Blue states shut down their economies. They shut down restaurants, schools, parks, theaters, tennis and basketball courts, playgrounds, beaches, bars and any other place where people could, God forbid, have fun.
Amid the dark days of the pandemic, I traveled to New York, California and Florida. New York and California were zombie zones. If people saw you on the street walking toward you, they would lift their masks and swerve so as not to get anywhere near you. They would scowl or look away.
In Florida, people got on with their lives. They took reasonable health precautions, but they got out. You could tell that Floridians were happier than New Yorkers and Californians. It made New Yorkers and Californians all the more miserable and indignant when they saw pictures and videos of the Floridians who were not planted in their living rooms in the fetal position. Some were even partying on the beaches — swimming, laughing, drinking, mingling. How dare they? And the final insult for the triply depressed liberals was that the Floridians had death rates from the virus that were no different from those living in the liberal states that outlawed fun and most human activity.
Not so long ago, those on the left of the political spectrum were the partiers — the wild and crazy crowd: sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Live and let live. Now leftists are a bunch of judgmental prudes like nuns in a convent.
And they suffer from a severe happiness deficit. They got Biden in office, and now they’re still miserable. Given the damage that Biden has done to our country in just one year in office, one could conclude that it serves them right.
Or perhaps they just miss hating Trump.
Photo by Divya Thakur, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).
Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks. He is the co-author of "Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive the American Economy." To find out more about Stephen Moore and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.