We have what would appear to be a great friend, although not linked to us in Dr Sanity. I have only occasionally visited her site in the past and haven’t been aware of the really good stuff she turns out until now. It’s not just that she supports John McCain, (or at least considers him to be a thoroughly honourable man) she has great insights into the politics of collectivism.
Quite a lot of what she has to say which I will be quoting in this post has to do with the subject of narcissism, which to most people (myself included till I read this) has only negative connotations, however it appears there is a healthy standard form present in all of us, and a pathological type which is very unhealthy. It is explained here in “NARCISSISM AND SOCIETY: Part I - The Psychology of the Self”
Everyone has some Narcissistic traits, and a certain amount of Narcissism is a necessary and healthy thing. What’s different about the personality disorder is that the symptoms are prominent and persistent over time and pervade every aspect of the person’s existence. It can be very disabling in extreme cases; and in others those who have this personality can make the people around them thoroughly miserable, since some narcissists can be manipulative, predatory and completely lacking in empathy. Narcissists are notoriously spiteful and vicious and usually alienate anyone close to them.
Probably around the middle of last year I read a comment on McCain, I don’t remember where, but it indicated that the writer thought something along the lines of “If John McCain did all of those things he would need to do to become President, he would probably consider himself unworthy of the position.” I realized that he was referring to the habit of most candidates of reinventing themselves in the image that suited the voters they were about to face.
This means really, that we don’t know where most candidates stand and we are essentially voting for most of them on their ability to assess what you want to hear and say it. It’s a bit like voting for your favourite chameleon.
The following passage from Dr Sanity’s post from 12 Feb 2008 “HILLARY AND THE POLITICS OF PERSONAL DESTRUCTION” says a great deal about our man and also the bitterness and destructive criticism that seems to follow him around: -
If you want to understand why political campaigns have become so virulent and personally vicious you need not look any farther that this sad truth. While politics still occasionally brings out those who have strong personal integrity and values; often it is the people of no demonstrable integrity and elastic values who are obsessively attracted to the field and who triumph--and that is true on both sides of the political spectrum.
By that, I mean that those who would actually make the best leaders generally opt out of the process, because they tend to be too healthy to generate the continual all-consuming rage necessary to destroy all opponents; or they lack the required-- and mostly distorted --sense of personal "perfection" and grandiosity that drives the power-hungry.
Clearly, there can be other conflicts that motivate people in politics other than a broken sense of self--John McCain is probably a good example. It is not that McCain lacks narcissism--there is no candidate in the political arena who lacks grandiosity and self-serving behavior, after all; but McCain's identity does not get re-invented regularly to please people; nor does he want to be POTUS if doing so he violates his own sense of personal honor and integrity.
Yes, such a commitment to values is indeed narcissism--but it is the healthy kind, the kind that generates values and ideals. We can safely assume that anyone who could say, " I'd rather lose a campaign than lose a war", and defiantly maintain his support for an unpopular war though that attitude once sunk his popularity, is someone who has principles; not a pathological narcissist whose only principle is himself.
I am frequently reminded that it is hopelessly naive these days to expect the electorate to vote for a person based on what that person actually stands for; instead, these days most people respond to the negative campaign ads that slice and dice the other guy; and are mainly influenced by botoxed faces and Hollywood-packaged good-looks rather than the content of any candidate's character. The less they know of that character, the better!
Do you imagine that a Golda Meir or a Margaret Thatcher would have a chance to become the first woman president of the US? Not these days, for sure.
Real personal integrity and character comes from having a consistent set of values and exhibiting behavior driven by those values. Today's classic narcissistically-driven politicians like both Hillary and Bill can only flutter in the political winds, and zelig-like easily take on whatever characteristics their public care to project onto them.
The US has the opportunity to put a real man of integrity into the White House this time, and while there is a way to go yet to get him the nomination, we are reaching the stage where we can probably afford to turn some of our guns on the Democrats.