It’s Narcissist Friday!
I wish I didn’t think that a person had to be a narcissist to be in politics these days. Maybe it isn’t true on the lower levels, but it seems almost a requirement for higher offices. Narcissists love the praise and adoration of politics, and their supporters faithfully shield them from the criticisms or help them blame the accusers. Most politicians are used to getting what they want, from people who want to serve them. Politics offers a wonderful playground for a narcissist. Power, attention, prestige, admiration—these attract narcissists like spilled 7-up attracts ants. Politics offers all of these.
But please don’t think of this as a political post. I have never wanted to use either the pulpit or the blog for that purpose, in spite of my own opinions. Instead, my desire is to point out something about narcissism that we all see but may fail to recognize.
I recently watched both the victory and the concession speeches of a couple of the candidates. For the last year or two, especially the most recent days, the opponents had accused each other of terrible things. They had attacked policies, character, family, even personal appearance. Their sycophants had carried the insults even further.
Then, suddenly, when it was finally over, they say nice things about each other as though they have always been friends. Each praises the other for the passionate campaign and for service to the country or state. And life is supposed to go on as though none of the arrows had ever been shot, as though none of the injuries caused continuing pain. Now, I understand that Americans like to view politics in the same vein as sports contests. We admire fierce combat, but we remember that it is “just a game.” Someone heavily involved in slinging mud and filth during this season just said, “Well, that was just politics.”
I can’t help but think of the narcissist who rips your life apart, accusing and lying and manipulating. Then, when the battle is over, he says, “Hey, no hard feelings, right?” As a pastor, I have been through some hurtful church battles. I have had people lie about me and accuse me of pretty bad things. And, after it was over, they say, “Well, we can still be friends. Maybe catch a cup of coffee sometime.” No, we couldn’t be friends after that.
It doesn’t seem to matter whether the narcissist wins or loses. Either way, he forgets his cruelty and ruthless maneuvering. He just wants everything to be good now. He is shocked when you don’t return the “kindness.” You took things too seriously.
I have heard newly divorced wives say that the narcissist suggested they get together for intimate times once in a while, “now that it’s all over.” I have heard employees say that the boss who fired them just before they reached retirement and pension age thanked them for their faithful service. The narcissist friend who turned everyone against you offers to get together for lunch sometime, “just to catch up.” Mom rips you with accusations and insults then complains when you don’t invite her over for tea.
And our heads spin. They might be able to shift their emotions and perspectives that quickly, but the rest of us can’t. But, you see, for the narcissist it’s all a game. You were just an opponent, not a real person. When the narcissist told those lies about you and manipulated others to oppose you, he was just trying to win, not to hurt you.
I think there is a part of the narcissist that believes that. Since they don’t see anyone as real people, they can’t be accused of trying to hurt anyone. But I also think this is a lie. The anger and evil you saw in your battle are still there, just under the surface. The narcissist hates all opponents with nearly equal passion. You might not have been a real person, but you were a real enemy. The threat you presented required whatever the narcissist brought to the battle. The moment you present the threat again, the evil will return.
And the politicians who seemed to hate each other a couple days ago? Are they friends now? Can we trust them to work together for the good of all of us? Probably not. It’s just politics.
The claws might have pulled back under the skin, but they are still there.
(I should have said this earlier. I know that people have differing ideas about politics and I have no desire to entertain that kind of debate on the blog. Comments centered on the political scene, for or against candidates, parties, or ideologies, will be blocked. You will notice that I didn’t mention names and held all politicians to the same standards. If there is some perceived political statement in the post that offends you, I apologize. That was not intentional.)