I want to steer away from political blather since it's not my strong suit, but this week two conservative pundits on Yahoo.com's editorial section, Maggie Gallagher and Larry Elder, have written articles about polls which indicate that, respectively, conservatives have better mental health than liberals, and Republicans are happier than Democrats. Is this the new conservative meme for turning the next election around? Unable to confidently promise a better economy or improved safety, are conservatives falling back on promising "happiness?"
OTOH it's true that within my circle of acquaintances, liberals tend to be more depressive than conservatives. Maybe it's because fewer of us believe we're going to heaven. That's only true for some, though. Maybe it's because, as a group, conservatives are more likely to value a degree of conformity and uniformity, while liberals are more likely to value avaunt-guard envelope-pushing, which easily shades into various flavors of neurosis and confusion, or at least being more open about neurosis and confusion. Maybe frustrated conservatives are more likely to deny their problems in order to maintain an upbeat facade. Most leftys I know love to be all too honest about their problems, while righties are more likely to sweep it under the rug.
Of course the poll (as distinct from a study) Maggie Gallagher cites relies on self reporting; in other words they asked people if they were in good mental health or not. Self-described conservatives were more likely to say they were in fine mental health. Perhaps conservatives would also be more likely to describe themselves as smart, funny and charming? I suspect liberals tend to be more inclined to self-questioning, and therefore less likely to blithely claim to be in fine mental health.
Am I happy and in good mental health? Well, I'm functional, generally happy and upbeat, and I'm not gonna go Columbine over minor frustrations. OTOH I'm a slovenly 34-year-old near-virgin whose apartment still looks like a little boy's playpen despite almost a year of claiming I'm gonna clean it up. So my happiness clearly exists within parameters, parameters which, for some, could be described as "sadness." You could spin it two different ways. I suspect this is true for many people. Maybe libs are more prone to spin it the negative way, or more likely to vacillate between two ways of framing their situation.
Another thought; before AIDS pushed Republican homosexuals out fo the closet, a self-reporting poll of homosexuality would have shown Democrats to be more likely to be gay. Certian socio-cultural factors meant gay people on the left were more likely to be open about their sexuality than homosexuals whose sociopolitical leanings were to the right. But right-leaning pundits would have titled their articles "Does the Democratic Party Make You Gay?" Maybe unhappy Republicans are just on the DL.