Are politicians narcissistic sociopaths?

All of you have heard that a person has to be crazy to go into politics.  What drives a person, then, to subject himself to this masochistic spectacle like the Opus Dei terrorist in The Da Vinci Code?  For human males, it’s often the desire to be the top alpha-dog, a desire that trumps any fear of public speaking, baby kissing, or campaign-trail tomatoes and other attacks.  For human females, I’m not sure.  For both, lip service is often given to a desire to help others—freely interpreted by the candidate, of course.

The candidates’ ubiquitous “helping others,” in fact, is often morphed, warped, raped, or otherwise tainted by the candidates’ political ideologies.  Nevertheless, in today’s U.S. of A., there’s little difference between conservatives and progressives, or, if you prefer, between Republicans and Democrats.  Most male politicians are narcissistic sociopaths.  The female politicians are a minority and basically cover the same narrow political spectrum as the males, with more exceptions to the rule of self-interest than their male counterparts.

“Narcissistic” and “sociopathic” are psychological terms also used by psychiatrists (in some sense, the first implies the second).  I’m neither a psychologist nor a psychiatrist.  However, as a writer, I know a narcissistic sociopath when I see one.  A day doesn’t pass when I write about one, often a highly tempered annealing of character traits I’ve observed during my years studying the quirks of human behavior.  The real world is, in fact, more fantastic than my fiction world.  To paraphrase Tom Clancy (see the quote that streams across my website banner), I have to make my fiction appear plausible.  Even though it’s sci-fi oriented, the extrapolation into the future must appear more real than real life events often seem.

Consequently, I can state categorically (I try to avoid adverbs in my fiction, so they find their way to my blog) that politicians are narcissistic sociopaths.  You can tell by their appearances and their actions.  Mr. Gingrich, for example, complained to the debate monitors about their not allowing applause.  Both Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Romney measure the success of their campaign events by the size of their adoring crowds (ignoring the fact that voters often go to both their events, and some of these are independents, not Republicans, who can’t vote in primaries in some states).  Mr. Paul soaks up the adoration of the new generation’s libertarians—give the kids that follow him a bit of college and/or some reading of Ayn Rand and they think they’re experts in economics and the free market.  Mr. Santorum enjoys being the champion of the new generation’s bigots, Tea Party faithful (not necessarily distinct groups), and other assorted nuts lost deep in right field, sunglasses in place, and waiting for the coming Rapture.

I only emphasize the GOP because we have seen so much of these bitter-and-sour-grapes voters over the last few months.  The number of their candidates standing on the stage has dwindled from seven to four, if you don’t count Mr. Trump and Ms. Palin, who vie for the national stage.  When they stop fighting among themselves, they all profess to having the same goal:  run Mr. Obama out of town, the town they consider their town, the town they’re entitled to as guardians and gatekeepers for the rich elites.  Mr. Trump and his “handlers” are making noise as if they want to start a third party—that won’t happen unless Mr. 15%-tax-rate Romney loses the nomination.  Together with Mr. Paul’s previous attempt as a Libertarian Party candidate and the fact that Mr. Santorum should have taken his Tea Party followers to form yet another party, it all makes for a good show, although it costs millions and millions of dollars—P. T. Barnum’s costs much less, although both qualify as circuses, the GOP consisting almost entirely of clowns.

In fact, the Dems are also guilty of being narcissistic sociopaths.  They just make a habit of sounding like they’re for the common person.  They’re the high priests of fairness, giving lip service to caring when they’re also members of the infamous 1%.  They realize that middle class taxes keep the country going, so they pretend they’re Robin Hoods, although very few of the Democratic fat cats would look good in tights.  Mr. Obama holds down the fort on the executive side.  He always looks smug.  As I watched that State of the Union address, the smugness was like a fog permeating those hallowed halls of Congress, the smoke from the blazes of partisan bickering combining to form an impenetrable fog that will cause a great pileup for this country.

Mr. Obama’s an elitist as much as Mr. Romney is and hasn’t accomplished 10% of what Romney has accomplished on paper, although being President counts for a lot (for Mittens, vulture capitalist at Bain and figurehead leader at the Olympics average to zero in my accounting system).  Yes, the ex-Senator from Illinois, an inexperienced man far too young to be President, speaks in a smug fashion.  Considering that he has been unable to communicate even the positive things his administration has achieved, he has no right to be smug.  Or egotistical.  Maybe Leon Panetta does.  Or SEAL team 6.

If we call Ronald Reagan “the great communicator,” then Barack Obama is “the great obfuscator.”  To be fair about it, I suppose Mr. Obama thinks voters are intelligent enough to read through his executive and legislative record and see for themselves all the great things he’s accomplished.  Come on, Barack!  People are more interested in the Super Bowl and afterwards, the NCAA tournament and the NBA playoffs, followed by the entire baseball season that is far too long.  In addition to being a narcissistic sociopath, you’re also naïve.  If they get beyond the comics and the sports pages, people only read about government when they have incurable insomnia.  You have to learn to boil down your achievements and your message in thirty second sound bites just like all the rest of the politicians.

I won’t dwell on why politicians are narcissists.  Just look at the hairdos and the candidates’ women standing by their men like 1950’s mothers straightening the locks of their little brats.  (Mr. Obama doesn’t have locks to straighten and his hair is graying, but Mr. Dumbo—for the ears—can revel in the fact that he has the best-looking First Lady and the two cutest First Daughters in the history of this country, so it all evens out.)  More importantly for America is why these politicians are sociopaths.  You already know the answer.  There is not one member of Congress who is not beholding to lobbyists and special interests, even to the point of presenting bills written in toto by these shakers and movers of modern America.

The executive branch, notably the President and Vice-President, but also many in the President’s Cabinet, is also buddy-buddy with corporate America and other groups who pressure them to do “the right thing,” i.e. take care of the rich elites.  Mr. Obama was Goldman-Sach’s candidate just as much as Mr. Romney is, so much so that Mr. Gingrich pointed out that the billionaire George Soros can stomach either Romney or Obama, but not Gingrich, who he declared to be an “extreme conservative” (probably true, but remember, there’s not that much difference between conservatives and progressives in this country).

Being buddy-buddy with lobbyists and special interests implies a fortiori that politicians are not buddy-buddy with the middle class.  Those in power, here and throughout the world, don’t give a rat’s ass about the middle class.  Sure, in the Western-style democracies, they want their votes, but nowadays more votes just means invest more money—politicians buy elections because people, like it or not, are influenced by political ads, especially scandalous and negative ones.  Madison Avenue helps politicians sell themselves just as much as they help sell alcohol, tobacco, firearms (the anti-ATF with HQ in NYC?), whether these things are good for you or not.  And history has certainly proven that politicians are NOT good for the middle class.

This lack of concern for the common person, the poor peons who pay the taxes to all the Sheriffs of Nottingham, is why politicians are sociopathic.  The wiggle their butts and back into sociopathic behavior even if it’s not innate in their personalities.  They only care about themselves and their own success—the pure definition of sociopathic behavior.  Contrary to common beliefs, this behavior is not criminal.  Sociopaths can be, and often are, very productive members of society—outside of the political arena.  They can even be compassionate as long as they get theirs.  Sociopathic behavior is extreme egotism, if you will, so extreme that the afflicted put their needs above the needs of others.

In spite of a sociopath performing good deeds, you should scream “Danger, danger, Will Robinson” when you see extreme sociopathic behavior.  Sometimes it is blended with excessive paranoid behavior, as in FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover (who was deviant in a few other ways), Senator Joseph McCarthy (his actions in Congress the 20th century’s version of The Crucible), and President Nixon (the winner of the paranoia sweepstakes), often making a heady elixir for some people (the fanatic followers).  The narcissistic sociopath in his extreme manifestations can become a danger to all humanity (Hitler, Mao, and Stalin come to mind).

Yet, these are the people we elect to office in our representative democracies.  The fundamental principle underlying all democracies is therefore incorrect because we assume in the abstract that representation can work.  It might at the level of 4-H clubs.  It seems to work less and less in Washington D.C., London, Paris, and Rome.  It says something about humanity that we were able to put a man on the moon and map out the human genome, but we are unable to find anything better than representative democracy run by sociopaths.  Until we do, we will just have to tolerate the narcissistic sociopaths who lead us.  Let’s hope to God that they’re the benign, productive kind—because they don’t come with warranties.

And so it goes….

2 Responses to “Are politicians narcissistic sociopaths?”

  1. Scott Says:

    Benevolent dictatorship?

  2. steve Says:

    Hi Scott,
    Thanks for your question. Benevolent dictatorship is perhaps equivalent to the old philosopher king in Plato? When I was in Spain long ago doing some physics research, I was impressed by how many Spaniards yearned for Franco. I wouldn’t call him benevolent, but the streets of Madrid during his reign were free of muggers. In Colombia, where I lived, people still speak well of Rojas Panilla, who added much infrastructure to the country during his reign (his daughter was something else, I hear).
    I think the problem is the following: Who controls the dictator? After all, most dictators, even the benevolent ones, are often extreme sociopaths, with a heavy seasoning of paranoid psychosis often thrown in. Plato couldn’t solve this problem. Maybe representative democracy is a way of ensuring that just one person doesn’t cause much trouble?
    All the best,