Dennis Prager at AmFest 2022: You Have a Moral Obligation to Be Happy

Dennis Prager speaks at AmFest 2022. (Credit: Bob Hoge)
(The opinions expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

The Turning Point America Fest convention wraps up Tuesday after four days of making headlines and offering up dozens of live speeches by some of the top players in the conservative movement such as Kari Lake, Mike Lindell, Newt Gingrich, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, Harmeet Dhillon, and more.


I went with several RedState colleagues to witness the events, and I expected to hear political speeches with lots of red meat and Democrat flogging because, well, why not. Many conservatives have been feeling somewhat let down after the poor GOP showing in the midterms, so it was nice to get together in numbers and strategize for the future.

I wrote Sunday, however, about how I was surprised by Tucker Carlson’s speech, which turned out not to be a Biden-bashing party but a spiritually-themed talk about life’s lessons and the need for gratitude and grace. I don’t think the president’s name passed his lips. And yet, I found the talk to be profound.

Talk show host, author, and co-founder of PragerU Dennis Prager often speaks on religion and spirituality on his radio show, so it was not surprising that he touched on some of the same ideas that Carlson did: namely, that you have a duty to not be sulky and to instead be happy:

Happiness is a moral obligation.

You cannot afflict people with your bad moods any more than you can with your bad breath. Just like you walk, you brush away your bad breath and you shower away your bad odor, you should brush away your bad mood. You owe it to everyone in your life to have a happy disposition. [Applause.]

Fake it till you make it.




The reason I find Prager and Tucker’s takes so interesting is that is not the worldview I was exposed to growing up. In the 70s and 80s, it was all the rage to look deep down into your soul, to obsess over everything your parents did wrong, to wallow in your darker feelings, and to commit to a lifetime of talk therapy. The emphasis wasn’t even necessarily on what it should have been: finding meaning and happiness.

The culture has now shifted away from introspection and more toward guilt.

If you talk to many young people these days, you’ll find that huge numbers are depressed. One half is scared and guilty because they’ve been taught that the simple fact of their existence is causing the demise of the planet; the other half is glum because they’ve been convinced that deep down inside they’re racists.

I never thought of happiness in terms of obligation. But if you think about it, it’s true: you have been put here on earth, you have life, you have people who depend on you. To be an effective parent, spouse, sibling, anything, you fail those people if you are a gloomy grump all the time. Eeyore is funny in Winnie the Pooh, but he wouldn’t make a good dad.


The speeches also highlight the current political and cultural divide that is so prevalent in our society these days—notice that Republicans are generally happier than Leftists, who would rather find something to be outraged about than they would take a moment to express gratitude.

So while Prager made many other points in his talk—strongly emphasizing the importance of marriage, for instance—it was this section that I found to be the most fascinating.

But he can also be funny:

One of the few positive things to come out of the left it that so many of them don’t marry and don’t have children. When fools don’t reproduce the world gets better.


Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on RedState Videos