Are Extremists Really Happier?: The Case of Katrina vanden Heuvel
Arthur Brooks says that political extremists are happier than moderates. While he tells an interesting story, this seems like a case where overall life evaluations might yield a very different answer than time diaries or beeper studies. Consider this striking excerpt from an interview with The Nation‘s editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel:
Tomdispatch: Tell me something about your daily life at the magazine. I’m sure you’re understaffed, under-everythinged. But what’s it like to spend a day as the Nation’s editor and publisher, beginning to end?
Katrina vanden Heuvel: I begin the day by reading from three to five papers. By then I’m already so agitated… [She laughs.] Anyway, I start with the Washington Post, then I do the New York Times, then parts of the Financial Times or the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and the Guardian. Then I look at the Web. I’ll read Tompaine, Commondreams, Romenesko, Tomdispatch, Juan Cole, Alternet, the Huffington Post, James Wolcott’s blog, Jay Rosen’s PressThink, sometimes Josh Marshall’s Talking Points Memo or the Daily Kos. Just kind of absorbing as much as I can. Then the trick is to be an editor who’s outraged by what’s going on, but remains humane and sane as a watchdog.
At least at face value, it sounds like vanden Heuvel spends an hour every day being angrier than most people get in a month. She may say she’s a happy person (I’ve never met her, but it wouldn’t surprise me), but a big chunk of her waking hours overflow with negative emotion. If that’s what happiness is, I think I’d rather be miserable.