If you talk to most liberals, they’ll tell you that conservatives are insensitive, callous and selfish. To their own detriment, leftists tend to believe that those on the right simply don’t care about the less fortunate. While this doctrine has been embedded in left-leaning gospel for decades, research and reality paint a very different picture — one that has perplexed many of the left’s self-proclaimed “compassionates.” With one of the worst economic downturns in American history still impacting the lives of millions of Americans, understanding this subject is paramount.
Out of all of the left’s discombobulated theoretical constructs, the ludicrous assertion that conservatives simply do not care about society’s downtrodden is particularly frustrating, as it vehemently denies both reality and logic. On the surface, the notion that liberals are the world’s most charitable individuals could easily be accepted. After all, many on the left talk quite a bit about helping the poor and providing social safety nets. However, the left rarely explores the negative consequences of its policies. Furthermore, liberals fail to analyze and comprehend their own deficient charitable giving patterns.
Thomas Sowell captured this overall sentiment in a Nov. 2006 Human Events piece when he wrote, “One of the most pervasive political visions of our time is the vision of liberals as compassionate and conservatives as less caring.” While myths surrounding leftist giving and volunteerism continue to be perpetuated, American researchers have taken a pretty clear and concise look at this issue and the case is closed: Conservatives out-give and out-volunteer the opposition. Don’t believe me? Examine the facts.
In 2006, independently-registered researcher and author Arthur Brooks tackled the issue of political ideology as it pertains to giving. According to a 2006 ABC News piece by John Stossel and Kristina Kendall, Brooks’ research has shown that conservatives donate about 30 percent more than do liberals. Interestingly, on average, conservatives earn less than liberals.
Brooks also claims that financial donations aren’t the only difference at hand. When it comes to an issue as random as blood donations, conservatives are about 17 percent more likely than their liberal counterparts to donate blood! But, that’s not all. In 2008, George Will covered some of Brooks’ other findings. As it turns out, in 2004, George W. Bush carried 24 out of 25 of the states in which charitable giving exceeded the national average. According to Will,
“In the 10 reddest states, in which Bush got more than 60 percent majorities, the average percentage of personal income donated to charity was 3.5. Residents of the bluest states, which gave Bush less than 40 percent, donated just 1.9 percent.”
Clearly, there are a number of factors that influence the disparity between conservative and liberal giving. Two reasons that Brooks mentions in his own work are religious affiliation and the way in which liberals and conservatives view the government’s role in society. To address the former, a higher proportion of conservatives are religious and, thus, report routinely giving to churches and faith-based ministries.
In terms of the latter, it’s no secret that liberals are more prone to accept the notion that it’s the government’s responsibility to provide direct services to the people. While conservatives are by no means opposed to essential state-sponsored programs, they place a higher value on personal responsibility and the building of self-driven social capital. According to Brooks, “…You find that people who believe it’s the government’s job to make incomes more equal, are far less likely to give their money away.” Compassion, however, should be rooted in personal engagement; liberals fail to match conservatives in this area.