Obama is Attractive   8 comments

Have you ever interacted with a sociopath?

I have. For 15 years, I worked in the mental health field as an administrator. I found that I enjoyed the clients. Many of them, despite their illness, are good people who just want respectful interactions with their fellow human beings. A handful of them are seriously dangerous when off their medications. A narrow slice of them are down-right creepy and dangerous even when on medications. Those are, usually, the sociopaths.

Sociopathy comes in degrees and can exist independent of true psychosis. Mix anti-social personality disorder severe with some degree of delusion and you may just have a serial killer, but not always. Psychiatry is still an emerging science. And there are all sorts of people who have some degree of anti-social personality disorder who are not psychotic. These are the people who see nothing wrong with cheating on their taxes, but might not cheat on their spouse or murder the neighbors.

Those with anti-social features make excellent politicians. If you can divorce yourself from the very real people your policies are harming, you can accomplish a lot more goals than if you truly care about people.

Another feature of anti-social personalities is that, often, a “normal” person will like the non-delusional ones – a lot. There is something extremely attractive about them – maybe just the self-confidence of absolute assurance that they are right in what they’re doing and that you will eventually come to agree and, if you don’t, it won’t ruin their life, but it might ruin yours. It makes you want to agree with them – even if you don’t.

Which brings us to Barack Obama.

I read his book “Dreams From My Father” before I ever saw him on TV. I didn’t agree with a great deal of what he wrote in the book and “The Audacity of Hope”, which I tried to read during the 2008 campaign, deepened my perspective that he would sell my children into economic slavery to achieve his goals of income redistribution and class leveling. Still, I love to hear the man’s speeches and I frequently find myself nodding over certain sound-bites. Then I read the transcript – I ALWAYS read the transcript – and I am not so enamored. I deprogram myself. Everybody loves people with anti-social traits. There’s something so very attractive about them that you will vote against your own interests to be seen walking in concert with them. And that’s the danger.

Watching him play chicken with the House Republicans would be fun if the nation’s future were not at stake. He’s had them beaten since election night, maybe election night of 2008. He’s not going to blink. He’s a master at the bluff because he truly believes that what he is doing is right and he does not care if anyone else agrees. If he loses a hand here and there, fine. He’s in it for the pot at the end of the game. And he’s winning mostly – for now. He also doesn’t care what happens after he leaves the table. That’s for whoever comes next to worry about. He’s going to do what he’s going to do and let the fallout happen on some else’s watch. Now, he may believe that there won’t be any negative fallout, but it won’t matter to him if there is.

I submit he’s going to go on winning more than he loses until the end of his second term. It’s not that he’s right. It’s not that he understands the people more than his detractors do. It’s that he’s got people convinced that they ought to follow him – even if it is over a cliff and into a swamp. They may even suspect that the journey’s going to end in a bad place, but they’re so enjoying basking in the warmth that they cannot help following him.

Republicans have the same problem today as they had at the start of Bill Clinton’s second term when a majority of the country might have had issues with Slick Willy, but they still found him entertaining and it annoyed them to hear him run down by his opponents. Conservatives wishing to stay with the Republicans (or even go the way of a conservative third party) need to recognize that we are not winning against that image. All our yelling and pointing out that the emperor has no clothes is working against us. It’s not wrong to point out the mistakes being made, but the histrionics are not serving us well.

Now is the perfect time for conservatives, especially in the GOP, to reevaluate and choose a different rhetorical direction. It’s not a change in principles that are needed, but a change in tone. I’m not talking about compromise. I am suggesting communication. We have reality on our side of the argument, but if we’re seen as suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome, it won’t matter – nobody will listen to us. We should clean house, focus on restating our principles in ways that people can understand, and lay off screeching about Obama.

At the end of eight years, the country will be willing to listen to new voices offering sound principles, but only if we act like grownups in the meantime. Reasonable people will listen to reason if it appears to be coming from reasonable people.

8 responses to “Obama is Attractive

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  1. Well said, and I understand what you mean about how obama’s sound bites are tempting. The glamour of evil has always been with us.

    I’m not sure I agree that his followers are reasonable people, or that they will listen to anything, no matter how stated, if it is in disagreement with The Narrative.

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    • About eight months ago, I ended a 15-year stint with a social services organization. Most of my colleagues were left of center, but not socialists. They are reasonable people. They voted for Obama the first time for a variety of reasons including being fed up with the Bush/GOP pretention to conservative values while actually being progressives and white guilt. Quite a few of them had voted for Bush when he seemed to be doing a good job, before his second-term spending insanity. When I asked them why they voted for Obama a second time the answers were oddly divorced from reality. They talked about the improving economy and Obama’s mending old racial wounds.

      I know, I had to pick my jaw up off the ground too!

      Then I talked to the only conservative psychiatrist I know. He’s been observing my former coworkers for four years now and he’s a reality based guy. He was the one who noted that if you fall under the thrall of a sociopath (even an extremely successful one) he can warp your view of reality. But that spell lessens with presidents as they near retirement from office and they rarely can pass that onto their VPs … unless the opposition somehow paints itself in nasty colors. The best thing conservatives can do, he suggested, is to concentrate on ourselves, get our political house in order, and stop providing ammunition to the Obama camp.

      Reasonable people, like my former colleagues, will gradually come to the conclusions we’ve already pointed out — the economy is stagnant and likely to deteriorate, the debt is unsustainable, our nation is more racially divided than before Obama took office, etc. We’ve already made our points. Now we need to let reality prove them.

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  2. My mother raised me to be a democrat, and the first presidential election I voted in was that of 2008, but not being able to see what was so great about the candidate, (he never really SAID anything) and not believing in the Coke and Pepsi theory of democracy, I voted for Nader. When I saw the way John McCain handled his defeat, his grace and dignity made me wish I’d voted for him. I still feel guilty about not doing so.

    On the subject of third parties, what I’d like to see is every state governor’s name automatically on the ballot. It can’t be too hard to arrange, and it would be a wonderful first step on the road to making voting an actual choice.

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    • McCain tried to blame Sarah Palin for his defeat, so grace and dignity are not terms I would apply to him. Much better the way Mitt Romney has treated his running mate — though I voted for both candidates reluctantly. They’re progressives at a time when the nation really needs conservatives. They were both better choices than Obama, but it was more like a choice between 7-Up and Coke.

      Wow, that would be a big ballot if you did that nationwide! Or if you mean each state would just have their governor on the ballot. I suspect New York’s governor would win the governor’s cup in that instance.

      I personally advocate for a return to the ticket system, whereby you get a “ticket” from your candidate and that is what is dropped into the box. Whoever gets the most tickets wins. The current ballot system is discriminatory and blocks third parties and non-partisans from participation.

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  3. I’m not sure how the ticket system would change anything, unless you mean that not presenting voters with names to choose from in the voting booth would help eradicate the belief that voting third party is wasting a vote?

    I know it would make for a huge ballot, but why should that deter us? I’d love to see the names of fifty people who’ve actually dealt with assorted issues as governors on my ballot! lol

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    • Yes, your first paragraph is absolutely correct. The current ballot system blocks third-parties from the voting booth. With the exception of Lisa Murkowski, who really stole the 2010 Alaskan Senate race, write-in campaigns don’t work outside of the local level.

      Back in the 19th century, candidates would print their own tickets. A supporter could get that ticket and drop it in the ballot box. Non-partisans like me could gather a lot of tickets, research the candidates to our heart’s desire and then select one ticket to vote. That changed in the 20th century. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because the major parties don’t want voters to think of voting as a true choice among choices. They’d rather give us two candidates who basically provide the same programs with slightly different names and we get to choose between the lesser of two evils.

      Your way might work — although I would be concerned the typical uninformed American voter would just select a name they liked or had been in the news a lot. Or else they’d vote for the governor of their own state, which would give an advantage to large population states, something our founders would have cringed at.

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  4. You make a reasonable proposition. The trouble I see is, politics is rare (if ever) a reasonable arena.

    Hey, sorry to leave this in your reply box, but…

    Thank you for following my blog – “A Way With Words” @

    http://www.writingforfoodinindy.wordpress.com

    I’ve been having some trouble with WordPress. I’m still posting daily. Keep visiting and I hope to have things worked out shortly.

    Thanks again,
    Tony

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