Talking politics and religion can be a lethal mix so I’ll tread carefully here. When I make conclusions about things (especially when it comes to religion and politics), I try and be particularly careful to point out when i’m injecting opinion versus stating facts on things. Arthur Brooks’s book, “Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism” is a book that states the FACTS about who gives and who doesn’t in America. The findings detailed in the book were quite surprising to me, and to Arthur Brooks himself, as he states in the book. This book was the focus of an ABC News 20/20 report entitled “Cheap in America” Who Gives and Who Dosen’t”
A common perception is that liberals and Democrats are more “socially concerned” than conservative Republicans, and one might make the natural leap that because of this, they are more likely to be charitable. According to the research that Arthur Brooks conduced though, it’s exactly the opposite. How could that be? That’s impossible!
Brooks himself thought there might be an error in the numbers so he rechecked them. There was no denying the facts. Conservative Republicans, (who some argue would fire their grandmother to improve profitability) are statistically more charitable (more than 30% more charitable) compared to their “socially concerned” liberal democratic friends. Don’t shoot the messenger if you don’t like this, read the book and see the statistics for yourself. Just the facts here…
So how could this be you are asking yourself? Well the findings point right to the heart of the perceptions that “secular liberal democrats are more socially concerned than religious conservative republicans”. It turns out that the secular liberals (the Democrats) belive that it’s the job of the government to take care of the poor (no surprise here yet) and are more in favor of “income redistribution”, taxing and redistributing resources from those who have money to those who are poor. Socially leaning political views have actually taken the place of their charitable contributions. Brooks’s research shows that regardless of which political party was actually in office or how effective politicians were in their policies toward the poor, that the religious conservative Republicans consistently gave more than their secular liberal Democrat counterparts.
Brooks is careful to point out that there are many examples of charitable liberal democrats and non-charitable conservative republicans, however the research clearly demonstrated wide and across the board differences in giving patterns along political party lines. That’s not the only thing. Brooks points out that among the both the Republican and Democratic parties, people who are religious tend to give much larger amounts to charity, giving significantly larger amounts to both religious and non-religious organizations compared to people who were secular non-religious. Among all religious people, Republican conservatives still give a statistically significant greater proportion than Democratic liberals.
Brooks notes that “secular liberals” and “religious conseratives” are increasingly voting along political party lines, with religious conservatives tending to align with the Republican Party and secular liberals favoring the Democratic Party. The smaller groups that cross party lines, the “religious liberals” and “secular conservatives” both represent a shrinking percentage of of their respective political parties’ makeup. If this trend continues, these groups may find that their views are at odds with those of greater majority of their political party.
What’s clear are the numbers. Arthur Brooks says that these findings should be a wake up call to to the Democratic party and to secular liberals. The nunbers show that the charitable giving trends diving political parties are increasing. The message: All are apparently not equal when it comes to being giving.
Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the findings, “Who Really Cares” is an entertaining read that will be sure to hold your attention and may change your perceptions.
Next time…How giving makes you happy…