Let’s Talk about Politics

It’s Narcissist Friday!     

When we were kids, we wore tall rubber boots almost all spring. That way we didn’t get our shoes wet when we jumped into puddles. Mud, slime, puddles, these were all fair game, and fun, for us. And sometimes, out in the barnyard, well let’s just say it wasn’t mud we jumped in.

I think I am about to do the same thing with this post.

You might want to put your boots on.

One of my earliest memories is standing up in the back seat of the car (yep, did it and lived!) and listening to my mom and dad discuss the upcoming election. I said that I would vote for one of the names I heard them mention. It must have been the wrong one. Honestly, I don’t remember what I said, but I remember my dad’s answer. In his usual blunt voice, he said, “What in %#@& do you know about it?”

And that’s when I learned that it isn’t particularly safe to talk about politics.

It is worse today, but it has been bad for a long time. American politics has always been somewhat volatile. Politicians shot each other and beat each other with their canes. They called each other names, paid for votes, and lied about many things to get elected. We deceive ourselves if we think that American politics used to be tame and gentle.

But the common person experienced little of this. There was no evening news. Newspapers came to most homes only long after they were published. So, most people didn’t worry about Jefferson accusing Washington of treason or Lincoln being compared to a baboon. Don’t get me wrong, the common person of American history was neither illiterate nor uninvolved, it’s just that news traveled slowly and so did opinions.

Not so today. Now we know everything about people involved in politics. At least we think we do. We hear a lot more than the truth. Now we have so much information, but we don’t know what to believe. We are left to form opinions based on what side of the aisle we prefer. And a surprising number of people judge and hate based on whatever they have heard.

So what do we know? I always try to step back to what I know when I am faced with a puzzling choice or an uncomfortable position. What do we know?

  1. We know that anyone who enters politics, especially in higher levels, will face serious and often vicious opposition. There will be accusations, threats, lies, and intense scrutiny.
  2. We know that political positions are viewed as leadership and that people in those positions are often considered superior. You may notice that we refer to them as leaders, rather than representatives. We also elect them on a popularity basis, suggesting that only superior people will be chosen.
  3. We know that narcissists love that kind of position and challenge. For the opportunity to stand in front of everyone and receive applause and servitude, the narcissist will endure almost anything. The feeling of power in higher politics must be almost overwhelming.
  4. We know that narcissists are probably the only kind of people who could endure and navigate the gauntlet of public opinion today. Most of us would rather crawl into a hole for the rest of our lives than have everyone express their opinions on how we look or talk or act. Imagine that everything you say is recorded and criticized and publicized and twisted. Imagine that you can’t go out to eat, drive a car, go to a game or movie, or do anything in public without bodyguards and paparazzi. I know I would hate it, but narcissists would love it. It would be the ultimate in attention and influence.
  5. We know that it takes a great deal of money and popularity to accomplish anything in politics today. The old days of party manipulating are almost gone. Now, candidates must be actors and orators and heroes to the people. Party favorites have far less advantage than they used to. Regular people might as well not apply.

So, yes, politicians and narcissism go together. Always? In every case? I suppose not, but more than we would like to admit. How could you be a politician today if you didn’t want the limelight? How could you do it if you were afraid of what people think or say? How could you do it if you didn’t control a significant number of people around you? How could you accomplish anything if you actually said and did what you meant? The ability to lie, to entice, to promise without worrying about fulfilling, to gather people to you and push others away without concern or regret: these are all far easier for narcissists than for the rest of us.

I guess what I am trying to say is that we should not be surprised to learn that people in politics are narcissistic. Whether they are actually narcissists or not isn’t really ours to decide, but it would seem to take the strongest and most convincing just to survive. If someone says that a politician on my side of the aisle is a narcissist, I might not like it, but I have to admit that it is probably true. It does seem to me that the realm of politics has become so nasty that it at least smells a lot like narcissism.

Now, if politics has become a narcissistic game, we have to be extra careful. Narcissists will pit people against each other to accomplish their goals. Narcissists will tell convincing lies to separate us and control us. Those who have lived through narcissistic relationships should recognize the same tactics and effects in our society today. We are being manipulated. There are people who benefit from our anger and division.

So, what do we do? Stop playing their game! Don’t believe everything you hear, even from your own side. Don’t let political things separate you from your friends and family members. We have different opinions and different approaches to solving problems. Sometimes that puts us on different political sides. That has been okay in the past, and it should be okay in the future. We can still be friends. Believe it or not, there are more important things than politics.

Yes, there are some issues that are pretty important, important enough to divide friends, I suppose. But have you ever noticed that those issues don’t get solved by politicians? The ones who run on those issues never quite get anything done with them. We still have war, poverty, racism, drugs, abortion, unrest in the Middle East, abuse, high taxes, pollution, and almost all the rest. Nothing has changed for several decades, in spite of changes in the White House.

I have to be honest. I am firmly on one side of the political spectrum. I think it matters that you vote and who you vote for. I even get sucked into the rhetoric once in a while. But I don’t ever want to think less of another person for disagreeing with me. Not only could I be wrong, at least once in a while, but there may be more than one solution for a problem. It is more important that we remain friends and continue to talk with each other. Politicians will never solve the real problems the world faces. People who listen and care, they are the real problem-solvers.

If you have found yourself caught in the narcissists’ game, step back. Don’t feel bad. They are very good at what they do. But, as you step back, think about others. Maybe they have been caught up just like you were. Maybe they have something to say that you should listen to.

And, if you are a Christian, remind yourself that you are not of this world anymore. This is not your home. You care about all the people in it, but you have a Savior who is not a politician. You have a Lord who loves you and loves even those who disagree with you. That love is what the world needs—and will never find from the narcissists.

**********

As always, I appreciate your comments.  Your experiences and insights make this community work.  However, please keep your comments on this post to the general topic.  We don’t need to hear accusations against any certain politician.  I know I stepped into it, but we don’t need to smear it around.  

9 Comments

Filed under Narcissism, Uncategorized

9 responses to “Let’s Talk about Politics

  1. C

    I look forward to reading your posts each week. This weeks is particularly insightful to my situation with my ex narcissistic. I thank you for each and every weeks reminder that I am bigger than him and their is a loving God waiting to serve me. Blessings and prayers for you and your message. C

  2. Mark

    I had a pretty shocking moment about 10 years ago that involved Pro-Life endorsements of candidates. Our local (D) candidate was not endorsed, but he was vocally pro-life. At the state level, there were multiple (R) candidates that met their criteria, but they only chose one. Their claim was that it would “dilute the vote” to endorse multiple candidates. Yet, their candidate lost to the one they chose not to endorse, and the candidate that wasn’t pro-life ended up winning the governor’s seat.

    As I processed what had happened, I started realizing that being a one-issue voter had made my vote ineffective. The (R) party had just figured out how to mobilize a bloc of voters that could always be trusted to lift their candidates. First, they take a hard-line approach to the issue, then they make sure that nothing ever gets solved, and finally, they try to get companion referenda on the ballot to draw out those voters.

    It frustrates me that so much power is centralized in the Federal government. I think that is why the founding fathers specifically limited the popular vote to the Representatives, and we’ve mostly created the narcissism by insisting that Senators and the President be directly elected. I think there was some forgotten wisdom in balancing the power not only between the three branches, but also between the people and their representatives.

  3. Anita Murphy

    So much of what you said I agree with. What I’m hoping, and maybe what we are starting to see, are some non-narcissists stepping into the political process because they really are fed up and they want to make a difference.

    Or does that still mean they have narcissistic tendencies. I’m hoping that wanting to make a difference doesn’t always mean they are a narcissist. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    I’m hopeful!

    • Anita, I do think there are some good people in politics, especially at the state and local levels. Like you, I hope we see some who are strong enough to cut through all the negative to make a difference. There may even be some in higher levels. I am impressed with Mike Pence, for example. A man who knows how to keep his mouth shut.
      At the same time, now that the election is over, we see that some didn’t play the game and lost. My fear isn’t that good people won’t try, but that the game is rigged against them.

  4. Maya

    This is a most excellent essay, Pastor Dave! One of your best yet! I will definitely read it more than twice 🙂
    Recently I had a first date with a guy; he asked me a political question….then said, “What do you think about that?”
    I responded, “I don’t care.”
    Then I went on to point out that God controls everything; men have the freedom to choose good or evil, and Satan exerts a vast influence in our society, especially politics. As for me, I don’t follow politics closely…I follow Jesus.
    That guy should have known better than to mention politics on a first date!
    God Bless You!

  5. Tammy Czigan

    Thank you Pastor Dave. I agree let’s keep this respectful with no mud-slinging or smearing. I was just going to say a few words but this turned into a long post. The good news is that I’m not on a rant, I am not mentioning any names and know that there is deep and evil corruption on both sides of the fence. I am not telling you what to think, and I love and respect everyone regardless of their opinion.

    It is really good advice to step back, look at the facts and shut out the rants & rhetoric. This is especially important when making a decision on voting.

    In politics, entertainment & news media, it is hard to tell if someone is a toxic narcissist or full of themselves, arrogant & mouthy. Those are two different things. If you have been abused by a narcissist, either personality might repel you.

    Let’s be realistic. The people in power don’t succeed in the limelight by being overt nasty narcissists. They are charming, handsome, beautiful, educated, articulate, well dressed and popular. Their goal is ever increasing money, fame & power. If you stepped into one of those worlds, you would soon figure out that if you didn’t toughen up, you would be eaten alive. You would learn the hard lesson that you have to pay to play. If you were determined to succeed and reach your goals, you may eventually succumb to the constant pressure and acquiesce to just one seemingly simple illegal or immoral thing, only to be blackmailed into doing more of their bidding.

    Think about the narcissists in your life. What do narcissists do to you when you oppose them? When you state your opinion, do they oppose you even if it doesn’t make sense and even they actually shared your position in the past? Do they attempt to confuse, divert, triangulate, bait, shame, lie, gaslight, blackmail, project, strategize, name-call, threaten, move goal-posts, intimidate, then dogmatically and methodically work to turn people against you and destroy your reputation?

    If you’re on Pastor Dave’s blog reading this, you have likely lived at least part of it and know what I just outlined is true.

    Let’s say a true American Patriot wanted to make a difference in politics, wouldn’t they already know the obvious – that the majority of people in Washington are only out to protect their own interests? Wouldn’t they know in advance that they would be viewed as the enemy, because that is exactly what they would be? Wouldn’t they know the narcissists in power would launch an all-out war against them? Wouldn’t they know there would be people behind the scenes in government, corporations and organizations that would plot and do everything possible to control the public narrative, destroy their reputation, block their efforts and even assassinate them? Wouldn’t that include evil people hiding in plain sight such as judges, legislators, leaders in the 3 letter agencies, top law enforcement, CEO’s and even the mainstream media? Wouldn’t that be true in the USA and around the world?

    Wouldn’t the patriot already have to be a fighter with a mission and purpose, backed by an army of strong men & women that are on their team? As a comparison, what kind of person would you want leading your country’s armed forces? If he was a loyal fierce patriot willing to risk everything and fight to protect you, your flag, your family and your country, would you care if he ‘cussed like a sailor’ and offended people?

    It’s smart to look at the facts and do some homework. We already know not to automatically trust what we are hearing on the news and in our social media feeds. Let’s think for ourselves!

    Here are some good strategies that my husband and use and I would encourage you to consider.

    1. News & Social Media. We ignore the opinions and rants of the news media and don’t accept it as fact just because we read it in an article. Since other countries don’t have as high of a stake in our election, we have actually located and Google translated other countries articles to find out the truth about past and current world events. We also read and consider articles written for certain groups, for example UnitedwithIsrael dot org and news sources with independent journalists like The Epoch Times. It is a fact that social media and censors conservative people, opinions and organizations. Search engines give you results THEY want you to see. I would suggest searching for various organizations and read their point of view. Know that following someone does not mean that their posts will show up. Deliberately search out their feeds which can lead you to videos and articles to support their position. Twitter is actually a pretty good source – I’m not an expert and you don’t have to be either.

    2. Facts. Most importantly, check voting records of the politicians on your ballot. If there are amendments to consider, read the pros and cons. Look for family coalitions in your state that may have already done research and put together a guide. In Florida, there is Florida Family Action. Know that the mainstream media cherry picks and uses sound bites to fit their narrative. Yes, they even blatantly lie so search for and listen to complete speeches.If something upsets you, consider that what you heard may not be true. Search for “debunk” and that subject on YouTube and consider what you find. We know for a fact that Snopes has stated completely false information that fits their agenda. Please do not accept their fact claims as truth just because they are saying it. Ignore all the name calling, public shaming, celebrity opinions and look at the facts.

    3. The Narrative. Look around your community. Do you see average people screaming at each other? Is it possible that the uproar and violence is limited to pockets of people in large cities and that it doesn’t represent the majority of our country? Is it possible that if you repeatedly hear that someone is bad and a… “insert all of the insults that you hear on the news” that you might believe it because every news channel is saying the same thing? Why do we send our troops to protect other country’s borders but it is “racist” to protect our own? Why is it racist to write executive orders and pass laws to protect American citizens from people groups that repeatedly prove that they have nefarious intentions? Have you noticed that previous political polls have been grossly incorrect? Is it possible that you could be convinced to stay home and not vote because you thought it wouldn’t make a difference? When a narcissist in your life repeatedly does everything they can to prove they are superior and always right and you are always wrong, does that make it true? What happens when a narcissist thinks they are about to be exposed? Wouldn’t they fight with every weapon they could think of to protect themselves? If you held a public position and your narcissist owned and had control of most newspapers and TV, wouldn’t he make the reporters and news anchors say and write all kinds of awful things about you? Wouldn’t she make them withhold information that would vindicate you? If you were a politician and were responsible for the economy but they controlled the central bank, would they care if they damaged the economy as long as they made you look bad? Think for yourself.

    4. Values. If you are a Christian, there are certain things that are non-negotiable. If a candidate votes against our core values, it is not just our right but our obligation to vote for the opposing party to prevent them from accomplishing their evil agenda. In that case, it doesn’t matter if we don’t agree with everything the opposing candidate has done or even if we don’t like their personality. You are voting to stop an evil practice. As Pastor Dave said, you are not of this world. Your choices should clearly reflect your beliefs. Even if you are not a Christian, look at the values and traditions that make your country and economy strong. Which candidates appear to be willing to fight for those values?

    5. Voting in the midterms. This is the most important mid-term election in our lifetime. Our votes will determine who will control the House and Senate, and which candidates win office to govern our states. Judges will be appointed to Federal and State Supreme Courts, laws will be passed and it WILL affect you and your family. You may not like everything about a candidate, but please vote, because the alternative could be far worse than you can imagine.

    • Mark

      Tammy, I think much of what you say is spot on… I do want to clarify a few things:

      “Search engines give you results THEY want you to see.” This is not true, at least from what I see. Search engines want you to click on links because that is how they make money. Thus, they show you what YOU want to see. So, at first, you might see perspectives representing all points of view, but if you click certain articles, the search engine will optimize your results based on other people that clicked those same articles.

      “If you are a Christian, there are certain things that are non-negotiable.” I discovered that the political parties play the non-negotiables. For example, the Republicans play on abortion and the Democrats play on social justice. So, both are non-negotiable and which do you choose? Does God say it is okay not to take care of widows and orphans because abortion is more important, or does God say that taking care of widows and orphans is more important? I used to vote 100% pro-life until I realized that it was just a big game played by the core political party (who I can only presume did not care!) to get “clicks”. And, they continually fought reaching across the aisle to reduce teenage pregnancy through other means. If these big-ticket issues will be solved, they will be solved from the bottom-up, not the top-down. Through Crisis Pregnancy Centers and the local church.

  6. rodney hickman

    I live in New Zealand and therefore can only observe US poltics..Its these posts about narcissism which I enjoy learning about. After coming out of a very toxic relationship I am so grateful to God, good counsellors and this blog that I am finally walking free..A BIG THANK YOU TO “GRACE FOR MY HEART”

  7. Fern

    “Politicians will never solve the real problems the world faces. People who listen and care, they are the real problem-solvers.”

    So love this. We have power & are creating change, just in our day-to-day & by being who we are.

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