The Avenue

Take Some Personal Responsibility and Improve Your Situation

I’ve long maintained that the solution to much of society’s ills lies in one simple phrase. Personal responsibility. Now there’s a new series of studies that appears to back that up. And an interesting sidebar is that conservatives might be better at dieting than liberals.

Why is that? The studies show it has much to do with one’s perception of free will. The researchers defined free will as the belief that a person is largely responsible for their own outcomes. Conservatives agreed with statements like “Strength of mind can always overcome the body’s desires.” Joshua Clarkson, the lead author of the study, told the LA Times, “Conservatives tend to believe they had a greater control over their outcomes.” In other words, the studies indicated that liberals tend to believe that taking full responsibility for their outcomes would cause them to suffer from more guilt and frustration.

This led the authors of the study to conclude that conservatives are more likely to stick to a diet because they believe that the outcome is based on their own actions. The LA Times seemed fixated on dietary habits in conjunction with the study, but it really has more far-reaching ramifications.

Conservatives were far more likely to agree with the statement “People can overcome any obstacles if they truly want to.” Think of what a difference that makes in people’s everyday lives. Liberals want you to think that you’re a victim of your circumstances. Heck, they want you to think you’re a victim, period. That mindset leaves people trapped in their present condition. It robs them of hope. It destroys their incentive to make something of themselves.

We all have it in us to do better. We all have free will. It was that free will that drove a ragtag country to independence and, later, to become the beacon of freedom and prosperity for the rest of the world. People who tell you that you can’t change your circumstances are either those too lazy to better their own lot or those on whom you are dependent.

The only time in this study in which liberals outperformed conservatives was when participants were provided with fake research that said free will was an obstacle to success. After reading the article, conservatives performed worse on the test than did liberals. Why? Because they had been convinced that they couldn’t do something.

Isn’t that really what liberalism preaches day in and day out? Liberals drill into peoples’ heads that they can’t possibly make it on their own. They need the government to give them food or shelter or financial assistance. They tell them that they aren’t responsible for their poverty. It’s the corporations and the rich folks who have robbed them.

The cold reality is most people in America who are poor are poor because of bad choices. Liberalism teaches them that’s not so. I saw a woman with a ‘Will Work for Food’ sign just the other day. She had multiple tattoos, and I couldn’t help but wonder how much food the money she spent on those tattoos would buy. Liberalism shifts the responsibility to someone else.

It’s all about personal responsibility. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. If everyone were to take responsibility for their own actions and stop blaming others or looking to the government, we would all be much better off.

The good news is that we’re not hard-wired to be conservative or liberal. Despite the belief to the contrary, we do have free will. People can change. Societies can change. There’s hope for a more self-reliant—and thinner—America.

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About the Author

Phil Valentine is an author and nationally syndicated radio talk show host with Westwood One. For more of his commentary and articles, visit philvalentine.com.

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