Wednesday, July 28, 2010

So, Why ARE Liberals So Miserable?

We arrive at another Twitter-inspired blog post, tailored for one portion of the national population. Today, Dr. Melissa Clouthier, a conservative libertarian blogger, straightforwardly asked me: "Why aren't lefties happier?"

Indeed, why aren't we on the Left happier? I think Dr. Clouthier is right on a general level. Naturally, there are many happy liberals and some frustrated conservatives; moreover, our two-party system unavoidably masks the more complex politics of various individuals, making it hard to determine what kinds of liberals are especially grumpy (or, conversely, more cheerful). This question and the topic attached to it can easily devolve into broad stereotypes and bland generalizations. Neither items are helpful - the former fail to respect individuals, while the latter paper over differences and squelch the meaningfully revelatory dialogue we need in America. I know I won't speak for every single liberal or capture the entirety of what it's like to be a lefty, but I'll try to be as honest as possible. I want conservatives and right-libertarians to see lefties as we are, with our good motivations and reasoned thought processes but also with our manifold weaknesses, sins and failings.

So, on with the show, a brief essay that will only hit on some major points and not go too deep in any one direction (out of respect for everyone's time during the middle of the week). I do welcome comments, and would be perfectly happy to field a boatload of questions from members of the conservative blogosphere and conservative activists in general. If a follow-up essay is requested by any conservative readers, I'll write it and will sincerely try to address relevant questions/comments/tension points in a meaningful and transparent way.


Why are lefties not happier? As with almost all complicated realities in life, there's no one answer which will fully satisfy, but there are a few factors that emerge more strongly and broadly than most. One factor is religion. It's not so much whether religion is good or bad - that's the clash between the secular Left and the religious Right - but more simply, how religion is interpreted and emphasized.

I consider myself a progressive Catholic. I've been in the middle of multiple sociocultural crossfires. The secular Left thinks I'm too religious, while the Right thinks I'm not religious enough (generalizations to a point, but again true for the most part). Speaking from a place of progressive Catholicism, I'm aware of the difference between much of liberal and conservative forms of Christianity. The issue of Biblical inerrancy (whether the Bible is literally true or not) has, matter of factly, carried enormous implications for the ways in which one receives the Christian faith as a young person and then carries it as an adult. Leaving opinions aside, it is simply a reality in American life that the question of Biblical inerrancy strongly affects the rest of a person's religious mindset (if one remains religious to begin with). Liberals and conservatives both have sex and raise families and want their children to do well, but they acquire different points of emphasis that, over time, branch out into still more differentiations that create different kinds of people.

To directly address why lefties aren't happier, "we" (broadly defined, at least within our Christian adherents) think that human beings, while indeed flawed, are basically good. We acknowledge that human nature is frail in the face of temptation and vulnerable in the face of manipulation, but we lefties feel that if a person grows up in good circumstances, with a good upbringing and solid social supports, s/he will ripen into a contributing member of society and a fundamentally decent person. This is why we are: A) very sad when a person doesn't have strong social and familial support systems in childhood; and B) fervently desirous of changes to laws and policies that do not remedy the problems disadvantaged youth face. Our (theological) belief in the goodness of the human person clearly makes us lefties more wounded than, for instance, a Southern Baptist or non-denominational evangelical who believes in Biblical inerrancy and views human nature with a more sin-centric framework emphasizing the fallen nature of the human person. There are so many finer points that could be fleshed out here, but (for the sake of time/length) won't be. I do think the basic outlines of the matter do help to establish why lefty Christians (and certainly some lefty secularists) are less happy than righties.

Another core factor - which flows from everything just said - is that because conservatives cast a more skeptical eye toward human nature, they are much more willing (from the interactions I've had with conservatives on blogs since 2003) to simply say, "Life isn't fair - deal with it." Conservatives get frustrated just like anyone else, but it's been my experience that they are, on balance, better able to vent their anger, let it go, and move forward. Their skepticism of human nature allows them to possess and sustain a cultivated awareness of life's difficulties, which then enables them to develop a tougher and more resilient attitude to life. It's not cold - surely not to conservatives themselves - but merely a steely defense mechanism, a necessary survival tool that liberals would do well to cultivate on a more consistent basis. Lefties aren't as ready to admit that life isn't fair; we want to make life fairer! Again, I won't flesh out the policy merits (or demerits) which issue from such a dynamic; merely understand that this is how we generally think, and why we are less happy than righties generally are.

One other major determinant of conservative happiness and liberal misery is also connected to (broadly outlined) religious experiences. The specific factor in play here is the difference in interpretations of salvation. The liberal Christian experience generally holds that people are saved communally, and lefty Christians will often stress the need for works to accompany faith. The conservative Christian will place more emphasis on individual salvation, a personal decision of faith, and the need to believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Obviously, lefty Christians don't discount pure faith and interior belief, just as righty Christians don't dismiss the need to do good works. Nevertheless, there are differences in emphasis, and because your typical lefty Christian will see salvation through a more communitarian lens, s/he will weep more when s/he sees social dislocation, cultural drift, war, economic injustice, and other things that - in a lefty's mind - most centrally tear at the fabric of humanity. The conservative Christian - understandably upset at many of the injustices s/he sees in the world - does manage to walk with far greater internal confidence and assurance of personal salvation, bolstered and given ballast by a less-shaken belief in Jesus. Mel Gibson's The Passion certainly tapped into this vein of feeling and revealed the consuming confidence and happiness of many evangelical Christians who reside well to the right of the political center.

Well, I said I don't want to take up too much of your time. That's it for now. Again, follow-up questions or even requests for follow-up essays on uncovered terrain would be quite welcome, even encouraged. My e-mail address:

In a closing postscript that should not be diminished by its place at the very end of this post, I want to add: Just in case you have never heard this before, dear conservatives, I want to say it clearly and publicly: You are not the enemy. You are not evil. You've simply had collections of experiences and contours of existence which are very different from mine. If you and I swapped life stories (as is true for any two people who come from different backgrounds and face different points of poignancy along life's road), we'd probably be on the other side of the aisle. I'd be the conservative libertarian in Houston, and you'd be the progressive Catholic and former soup kitchen director/Dorothy Day admirer in Seattle. Peace be with you!


  1. The position that liberals are more communal and conservatives more individualistic is interesting. Do you think that's why conservatives want to control themselves while liberals want to control others?

  2. Mr. Zemek:

    This conservative thanks you for this post. I was directed here via a link from the Newsbusters blog.

    Very thoughtful and eye-opening, and in general, makes a heck of a lot of sense. You probably shouldn't post it on Kos though!

    Again, thank you and best wishes.

  3. I really have to take issue with your statement, "with our good motivations and reasoned thought processes,"

    Both your motivations and thought processes leave out a lot of reality and facts, so it should read, "with our feelings constantly on our sleeves,"

  4. I've made many of these same arguments for years, but I take issue with one observation. Conservatives are not so much "skeptical" of human nature as they are "objective". This same viewpoint is what led the founding fathers to create the kind of Constitutional government they gave us, and its abandonment has allowed the kinds of authoritarian tyranical "busybodies" C.S. Lewis wrote of so eloquently to flourish - in my opinion.

  5. Conservatives who have commented here:

    First, thanks for commenting and taking the time.

    Second, what are the 3-4 biggest things you don't understand about liberals, and why (at large) we think and operate the way we do? I'd be happy to try to address your concerns.

    Third, there are many sins and failings we lefties must answer for, but can you at least accept that liberals deserve a place at the discussion table? Claiming that only conservatives are "objective" and that liberals do not have good intentions or reasoned thought processes is just not helpful to any kind of larger national conversation. After all, we have to live together, do we not?

    I don't view conservatives as being an enemy or a problem. I think you have good intentions and reasoned thought processes. Could conservatives extend liberals the same courtesy?

    We very much disagree on IDEAS and SOLUTIONS, and that should always be the combat which lefties and righties engage in. Political discourse should rarely and very selectively involve attacks on people; we should be attacking bad ideas and deficient actions among our politicians and opinion-givers.

    Translated, the above sentence basically comes down to Jesus Christ's command to hate the sin, and love the sinner. We could stand to do that a lot more in America these days.

    As an example of one thing lefties could do a LOT better than they have, consider the topic of war. A considerable percentage of lefties - who often claim to be nonviolent - then act like militant peacemakers, spouting hatred and intolerance while manifesting a general unwillingness to listen to dissenting points of view. In so doing, lefties violate the very principles of nonviolence they desire to uphold.

    Far too much of the left's anti-war agitation has been driven toward a personal hatred of Bush and Cheney, et al, instead of focusing on hatred of warmaking and the sin of doing violence to other countries. Naturally, because much of the American left has been so consumed by hatred toward Bush/Cheney, it has made war a side issue if not an irrelevant issue, which has unsurprisingly led the Left to look the other way when Obama has sinfully, shamefully, outrageously perpetuated the war machines and in some cases (drones) intensified their use.

    If the left were less focused on attacking PEOPLE and more concerned with attacking bad IDEAS, our country would be a lot better off. I would gently note that the same is true with the right (or, for that matter, any political group in relationship to its electoral opponents). Attack the idea, not the person; hate the sin vigorously, but do love the sinner.

    I hope that's not too much to ask. Acknowledge the soul inside the person, even if that person is promulgating bad ideas or deficient viewpoints.

    Final thought: I don't think progressivism should reign unfettered. Good policy is a mixture of competing thoughts; I naturally think lefty ideas are generally better, but I think conservative thoughts and principles have a lot to add to the fabric of our country. Life is too complicated for one-way solutions in either direction along the political spectrum. We need a mix, and I'd like to think that view can be reciprocated. This doesn't mean both sides should sing songs around a campfire, but that both sides should listen to each other, respect the humanity of the other, and walk away from a conversation with that basic human respect intact.

    That's something Jesus would approve of.

    Again, thanks for taking the time to comment, and double-thanks to Dr. Clouthier for giving this issue some traction and, in so doing, enriching the public commons.

  6. You asked:Second, what are the 3-4 biggest things you don't understand about liberals, and why (at large) we think and operate the way we do? I'd be happy to try to address your concerns.

    Here's mine:
    1) WHY do liberals seem to HATE business/corporations so much? Where does this come from?
    2) WHY do liberals almost ALWAYS resort to personal attacks on people who disagree with them (they must be stupid, unread, brainwashed, etc. for not recognizing the inherent greatness of liberalism)...
    (NOTE: doesn't apply to you specifically... your arguments have been very respectfull)

    Harrison Bergeron

  7. Liberals are not wholly happy because we *don't* control the presidency, congress, courts and the press, regardless of what conservatives think.

    Obama is a centrist, there are only a handful of liberals in congress, the supreme court tilts conservatively, and the press is all over the place.

    There is prevalent misconception that the press and academia are bastions of liberalism. What conservatives ignore or fail to comprehend is that the press investigates our world and reports what they find, and teachers study our would and teach us about it. These two enormous bodies of research and dissemination, through their research and training, often espouse views contrary to conservative views. It is ironic that the people who devote their lives to studying our world and teaching us about it are the ones conservatives call loons and out of touch.

    Most liberals I know are happy, engaged, satisfied, hardworking people. However, sometimes liberals do express unhappiness, which often stems from a disappointment in the misguided or lost potential in others and institutions. As literal believes in hope and progress, liberals can become greatly frustrated with myopic/conservative thinking, especially of those in positions of power and influence.

    When you look upon the world through the lens of potential growth, improvement, and possibilities, it can be disconcerting and saddening to watch others rally against progress, support short-term solutions, and exert their belief system upon others.

    Liberals aren't sad, we're just disappointed in you.

  8. typo: believes = believers

  9. typo again! would = world. My apologies.

  10. Mr. Zemek:

    I think your positions are eminently reasonable -- vis a vis conservatives' and liberals' mindsets -- even if I would probably disagree with 95% of your policy positions.

    I can't pretend to speak for all conservatives, much less the handful of conservatives who have commented here; but I think most would agree with me that your tone is the exception and not the rule for progressives in the media/blogosphere. Your post was reasonable and thoughtful -- something right-wingers would almost never describe after reading the Huffington Post or Daily Kos.

    As to things I don't understand:

    1. Progressives as a whole seem to find fault with America first, and not see this country as -- for the most part -- a force for good in the world. The buzz term is "American Exceptionalism." Obama and his ilk don't buy into the concept. (See his globe-trekking "apology tour.")

    2. Progressives eschew the notion that we're at war with radical Islam. The corralary to this is that "If we just tried to UNDERSTAND other cultures, belief systems, etc. and weren't so intolerant," they'd like us and not try to kill us. To call this naive would be a vast understatement. It's an echo of the voices of appeasement and surrender by those who were on the wrong side of the Cold War for a half-century.

    3. Collectivism/statism/socialism and a general hostility to the achievers of this country. You know, the people who create jobs.

    Again, many thanks for the opportunity for dialogue.

  11. Harrison Bergeron:

    The second item is easy: Liberals attack conservatives because - while claiming to uphold nonviolence - they don't know how to channel their frustrations. They do what comes easily to the human organism: they lash out. They fail to do the hard work of cultivating a mindset of nonviolence, which treats all people as worthy of respect, even if their positions are viewed to be dubious or way off the mark.

    It is my persistent lamentation (and it's why I personally am a miserable lefty) that so much of the American left has jettisoned its nonviolent heritage, specifically the Civil Rights movement. The left is inauthentic, harmful to its own causes, and politically stupid when it attacks conservatives on a visceral and very personal level.

    The first item is the far more complex issue. I do, as a lefty, have a huge profit with corporations, but as I wrestle with this question, I realize that lefties make blanket condemnations of corporations in general. Similar to the notion of attacking bad ideas and not bad people, we on the left need to do a much better job of pointing out bad individual corporate PRACTICES/ACTIONS/MANEUVERS, and not spend our time saying "corporations are bad."

    The thing to realize about the left's problem with corporations is that it mirrors the right's problem with government. Think about that for a bit.

    Much as conservatives (RIGHTLY, I might add) point out the waywardness of government as an entity that has lost its way and constrains the freedom of individuals, it also needs to be said that on many occasions, corporations work against the full flourishing of human individuals.

    From private security corporations (Blackwater/Xe and Halliburton/KBR) to finance companies/banks (AIG, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citi) to oil companies (BP being just one), a number of corporations militate against a true open marketplace defined by equal and fair competition. They give consumers bogus products and a generally unfair shake; they enjoy undue leverage from the government itself; and when their stock dips in tough times - see the nation's airlines after the 9/11 tragedy - they slash innocent workers off the payrolls to protect/bolster their stock prices because of the fiduciary responsibility they have to make a profit.

    Admittedly, individual corporations can only be blamed so much for doing things to return a profit to stockholders & shareholders, but corporations also have a public trust that is all too often (in the cases of the bad corporations, not the good ones) cast aside when workers have done nothing to deserve a pink slip.

    Again, I freely admit that the left is too general and all-encompassing in criticizing corporations, but there is indeed plenty of reason why the left voices the criticisms it does. We can and should do a much better job on the left of criticizing the practices at work, and not making this into an all-out attack on corporations in general. We also fail to recognize good corporate citizens, and we have to be better in that realm as well.

    For instance, I still do have a problem with the ways in which Wal-Mart initially established many of its stores across America - the process uprooted communities and buffaloed city councils. It wasn't fair or right.

    However, that said, I'm comfortable in saying that Wal-Mart's corporate citizenship has clearly improved over the past few years and is definitely becoming more responsive to the needs of the ordinary citizen. Wal-Mart is using more organic products and implementing superior farming/processing practices. It's realizing the need to give its consumers better products and be a better steward of the environment. So I give Wal-Mart credit for that and applaud the forward movement of the company.

    Thanks, Mr. Bergeron, for your questions and feedback.

  12. There are multiple anonymous posters here, but I'll speak to the most recent one who posted at 12:13 p.m.:

    First, thanks for the kind comments.

    The one thing I ask for from the right - relative to your remarks - is that conservatives make the distinction between Islam in general and radical/Sharia Islam. From what I read on blogs and on the Web (via Twitter), I don't see Republicans or conservatives making that distinction often enough. Naturally, in any heated debate or contest, one side will forcefully push back against the other if it sees that its own viewpoint is being completely ignored or dismissed. The right feels the left doesn't condemn Sharia Law or truly outrageous practices of Muslims around the world, and I think that's a very legitimate beef. In turn, the left feels the right casts too wide a net over Islam (much as the right feels the left criticizes corporations too generally and reflexively). If criticism of Islam and of Muslims could become more specific to Sharia Law extremists and the like, the left wouldn't be so strident in response.

    Of course, it's the left's responsibility to be better regardless of what others say - I want to make that point clear. This isn't dependent on conservatives; it's dependent on us, the members of the left. We have to repent of our own sins.

  13. "The second item is easy: Liberals attack conservatives because - while claiming to uphold nonviolence - they don't know how to channel their frustrations. They do what comes easily to the human organism: they lash out."

    With all due respect that's an outright lie. Almost if not all violence that is politically motivated comes from the left, from the Earth Liberation Front to James Chester Blanning who placed 4 bombs in and around his town. What about Carol Anne Burger who stabbed her roommate 222 times? What about the terrorist acts that were carried out by anti-Republican protesters during the 2008 convention, They threw bricks through the windows of buses, sending elderly convention delegates to the hospital. They dropped bags of sand off highway overpasses
    onto vehicles below?

    And those were just the ones off the top of my head.

  14. Capitalist Infidel:

    There are wayward loonies of all political persuasions. This naturally does not excuse anything a leftist intentionally does - not at all.

    Timothy McVeigh and Joseph Stack were not lefties, to be sure.

    I am not saying - and will not ever say - that the right does more violence than the left on the level of individual citizens going ape. That's a pointless and unproductive direction in which to travel. I would only note that claims of exclusivity - EITHER WAY (including the left's claims that the right is far more violent!) - are way off the mark.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  15. Mr Z: Thanks for the thoughtful article.
    Just as you don't presume to speak for all lefties, I won't presume to do the same for righties.

    By beginning with the goodness/fallen-ness of man and your belief that all humans are "basically good," you cause a good bit of head-scratching and recall a definition of insanity (e.g., 'Trying the same thing over and over, expecting to get a different result').
    Where do you/have you seen 'basically good' in the human race? (even if you point to someone like Mother Teresa, you cannot ignore her own writings on the subject of her own heart).

    From that point we begin what could be called The Great Divergence.

    Philosophical underpinnings ultimately determine direction and policy. Lefties tend to compel others to pay for public works of compassion on a grand scale (here is a good time to note the the insanity definition again) These do not effect long-term change. Look around.

    Righties tend to support the myriad private groups and organizations who help people on a smaller scale, much more efficiently, with greater long-term results.

    I highly recommend Marvin Olasky's "The Tragedy of American Compassion," a historical look at how the poor have been treated in the US since Plymouth Rock.

    Let's keep the dialogue open, I have to go do a work of compassion on the tall grass on our lawn...

  16. Thank you for your thoughtful article.

    My question about liberalism is about tax policy and spending.

    1) When liberals discuss the deficit, the solution is typically through the increase of revenue, and not the reduction of spending--conservative are typically opposite. We believe taking dollars out of the private sector weakens growth and the economy generally, and even if it didn't, the resource of tax revenue is finite. What about that hypothesis do liberals take issue?

    2) Certainly a philosophical issue, I feel that liberals generally defend higher taxation as a cheritable cause. As an above poster mentioned, we conservatives do not. We perceive the "causes" undertaken by our government as tremendously inefficient (the negatives of taxation I mentioned before not withstanding) when compared to the private philanthropy most conservatives would rather engage in.

    I know we agree to disagree on Keynesian/supply-side/Laffer Curve/etc theory, so please interpret my questions outside those issues if possible.

    Thank you for your time!
    Doug C.

  17. Doug:


    I'm not sure I'd be speaking for a majority of lefties on point number one, but I would say - at least on a preliminary level - that lefties don't view tax revenue to be an infinite resource. Lefties will say that a dollar spent on one priority prevents the government from spending a given dollar on other priorities. This could just be a large minority faction of liberals (say, 30-35 percent of all lefties), but there seems to be - from what I can sense - a large chunk of liberals who decry war/defense spending and would be happy to slash that from our overall government budget so that we can place more of an emphasis on social spending while NOT raising taxes too much.

    Naturally, I won't deny that liberals are virtually unanimous in approving of higher tax rates to cover social programs; where I'm less confident in speaking for all liberals is on the matter of HOW liberals (procedurally and intellectually) arrive at that point.

    I would cautiously venture to say that liberals treat economic growth with skepticism because, in this economic age, raw numbers pertaining to economic growth are no longer reliably consistent with the fortunes of individuals on the ground. Liberals want to ensure that a rising tide lifts all boats--conservatives see this (with some justification) as being redistributionist, and to a point, we lefties do want to redistribute $ because we see that as the place and purpose of a moral society. However, it's not all about redistributionism; we want the economy to grow in ways that benefit all people, and we lefties don't see that. Not quite, at least.

    The 2008 economic meltdown was an example of how markets and market exuberance in particular (fed by Alan Greenspan and other believers in the free market) did not serve our country well. There was considerable growth in some industries in 2005-2007, but that growth turned out to be unsound. Markets are not moral, or at least, they're not exemplars of pure virtue in the eyes of a lefty. Why? They're subject to manipulation from both governments and corporations.

    I know this won't answer or satisfy ALL of your doubts, but it addresses some underlying tension points.

  18. "The second item is easy: Liberals attack conservatives because - while claiming to uphold nonviolence - they don't know how to channel their frustrations. They do what comes easily to the human organism: they lash out."

    How does this answer not contradict your belief that humans are basically good?

  19. Anonymous (5:05 p.m.) and Sambinik:

    If you and other conservatives are willing to stay in touch with me, I'll craft a separate blog post on the subject of human nature. It merits more than 2-3 sentences.

    Long story short, I'm speaking from a theological position, not (just) an empirical one when I say that humans are basically good (though of course flawed). It is, as Sambinik said, a matter of philosophical underpinnings; everything does indeed flow from them.

  20. Matt, thank you for this humane, kind, well-thought out post. I'm so tired of the sniping and war-like mentality coming from both sides, so your column comes as a welcome antidote to that :)

  21. "saved communally" . . . I don't know about that one. I do believe, in fact know, that we can experience God in a communal setting but I don't think we can be "saved" communally. I think Pope Benedict even made some comments on that notion and called it a dangerous path to go down. We must all respond to God's love for us individually and as individuals. Sometimes we do respond communally, too. However, none of us knows what truely resides in the hearts of those we work alongside and all we really know is whether or not we are loving God back "with all our hearts, all our minds, and all our soul." And, "loving your neighbor as yourself". Therein lies salvation as I understand it.

  22. Dear Matthew,
    I really do not want to burst any bubbles here; however, a TRUE Catholic CANNOT be a liberal, a progressive or a democrat anymore. A TRUE Catholic is pro-life and cannot, in their true faith, follow any teachings (or platforms) that contradict that faith. You need to pull out that old Catechism and get back to your Catholic roots and get back to your own thought processes (not the ones you were brainwashed with by lib professors). I will pray one rosary for your return to the faith.
    God Bless,
    Sister Mary Agnes

  23. Sister Mary:

    Well, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin's seamless garment said something different. I consider myself pro-life / anti-abortion but feel that one must make political choices based of a full spectrum of issues, not just one issue in particular.

    It's thorny, though, and frankly, we don't have a political system which respects the full range of political positions.

    We need to have at least 4 political parties, with 1 party being comprised of people who are economically liberal, socially moderate, and anti-abortion. Two parties simply do not and cannot house enough differentiated perspectives to honor the full diversity of opinion in this country (on a bewildering array of complex issues).

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, and God bless you!

  24. Anonymous at 12:07 p.m. today (Monday, Aug. 2):

    Basically, being saved communally is best expressed by the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, in the Gospel of Matthew 25:31-46. It's not doctrine or dogma or canon law or intellectual frameworks that save us, but how (and if) we respond to the suffering Christ in our midst, embodied in the faces of the poor and, moreover, all people in their hurts and struggles.

    That unpacks what I mean by communal salvation.

  25. "but there seems to be - from what I can sense - a large chunk of liberals who decry war/defense spending and would be happy to slash that from our overall government budget so that we can place more of an emphasis on social spending "

    This is irrelevant as providing for the common defense is Constitutional but redistribution of wealth via social services is not. Social spending goes outside the enumerated and limited powers of Congress as put forth by Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution.

    To be perfectly frank, liberals simply don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to federal spending on social welfare - that inherently belongs to the individuals states as put forth by the 10th Amendment.

    Essentially, liberal priorities on federal spending are screwed up and unconstitutional. And please don't equate Republicans with conservatives, I've had my beef with the Republican-controlled Congress back in 2003 and their horrible spending...