Politicians are more likely than people in the general population to be sociopaths. But can egotism alone explain why so many elected officials seem to get caught telling lies, having affairs, committing financial improprieties or engaging in other scandalous behavior?
I think it would be fair to say that you would not find an expert in the field of sociopathy/psychopathy disorder who would dispute the fact that a small minority of human beings literally have no conscience. While that may be a bitter pill for society to swallow, clinical psychologist Dr. Martha Stout says it does explain a great many things – shamelessly deceitful political behavior being one.
Twenty years ago, a newspaper headline asked the question: What Is the Difference Between a Politician and a Psychopath? The answer, then and now, remains the same: NONE. There is no difference.
Nor is there much of a difference between the havoc wreaked on innocent lives by uncaring, unfeeling, selfish, irresponsible, parasitic criminals and elected officials who lie to their constituents, trade political favors for campaign contributions, turn a blind eye to the wishes of the electorate, cheat taxpayers out of hard-earned dollars, favor the corporate elite, entrench the military industrial complex, and spare little thought for the impact their thoughtless actions and hastily passed legislation might have on defenseless citizens.
Psychopaths and politicians both have a tendency to be selfish, callous, remorseless users of others, irresponsible, pathological lairs, glib, con artists, lacking in remorse. Like criminal psychopaths, charismatic politicians exhibit a failure to accept responsibility for their actions, have a high sense of self-worth, are chronically unstable, have socially deviant lifestyle, need constant stimulation, and possess unrealistic goals.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about Democrat or Republican – political psychopaths are all largely cut from the same pathological cloth. Such leaders eventually create pathocracies—totalitarian societies bent on power, control, and destruction of both freedom in general and those who exercise their freedoms.
In other words, electing a psychopath to public office is tantamount to national hara-kiri, the ritualized act of self-annihilation, self-destruction and suicide. It signals the demise of democratic government and lays the groundwork for a totalitarian regime that is legalistic, militaristic, inflexible, intolerant and inhuman.
So why do we keep doing it over and over again?
When our government no longer sees us as human beings with dignity and worth but as things to be manipulated, maneuvered, mined for data, manhandled by police, conned into believing it has our best interests at heart, mistreated, jailed if we dare step out of line, and then punished unjustly without remorse—all the while refusing to own up to its failings—we are no longer operating under a constitutional republic.
Instead, as pointed out in John Whitehead’s book, Battlefield America: The War on the American People, what we are experiencing is a pathocracy; tyranny at the hands of a psychopathic government.
Psychopathology is not confined to politicians; it can and has spread like a virus among the populace. As an academic study into pathocracy concluded, “Tyranny does not flourish because perpetuators are helpless and ignorant of their actions. It flourishes because they actively identify with those who promote vicious acts as virtuous.”
Any resistance to such regimes depends on the strength of opinions in the minds of those who choose to fight back. If we allow the ballot box to become our only means of pushing back, our battle is already lost.
We are not faceless numbers. We are not cogs in the machine. We are not slaves. We are human beings, and for the moment, we have the opportunity to remain free—that is, if we tirelessly advocate for our rights and resist at every turn attempts by the government to place us in chains.
Until we can get back to this way of thinking, until we can remind our fellow Americans what it really means to be a free American, and until we can learn to stand our ground in the face of threats to those freedoms and encourage our fellow citizens to stop being cogs in the machine, we will continue to be treated as slaves in thrall to a bureaucratic police state run by political psychopaths.