State of the Union? Or State of the American Psyche?

The headlines on CNN and elsewhere proclaim: “This year’s State of the Union Address is a defining test for Obama.”

Blah, blah, blah.

For more substantive analysis, let’s consider the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. (Remember that these polls tend to bias in favor of the Democrat, if anything):

62 percent of respondents used negative descriptors to describe the nation’s course, such as “downhill,” “wrong track,” “disaster” and “hard times,” to characterize where they think America was headed in the last year.

This confirms my long-standing theory that about one-third of the nation are unreformable leftists/socialists, usually calling themselves “progressives.” (Remember that disease and illness are progressive.) The rest either lean towards pro-freedom, pro-individual rights (albeit inconsistently), or are floundering somewhere in the uncertain middle (probably a third or more).

44 percent of respondents reported negative views of Obama, while 42 felt positively about him.

Now that’s interesting. Two-thirds of the nation believe the country is on the wrong track, literally going downhill. Yet only half the country dislikes Obama.

Think about this for a minute. Imagine if you had a friend, or a spouse, whom you blamed for leading you down a road towards disaster. Yet you’re still split, 50-50, when it comes to your feelings about him.

What gives?

With a spouse or a friend, I’d say it’s because your emotions are overriding your reason. Most likely, your “heart” (i.e. emotions) are telling you that this person is who you initially/mistakenly thought he was, while your own observation of facts tells you just the opposite. As I’ve written in my book, emotions can be very slow and stubborn to catch up with reality, even once you know what the truth is.

When it’s a country and a President, it’s all a bit more complex, I’ll admit. But read on, in the poll, for the rest of the answer:

More than half of the respondents disapprove of the president’s job performance – 51 percent – though Congress fared even worse, garnering an 81 percent disapproval rating. Forty percent hold negative views of Democrats, topped by 47 percent feeling negatively toward Republicans.

There you have it.

In most people’s minds (inaccurately, I would argue) Republicans are the party of self-interest, private property, for-profit capitalism and every individual living for him- or herself. Democrats, in most people’s minds, are the party of altruistic self-sacrifice, Mother Teresa in the Oval Office, Habitat for Humanity implemented in government, and all-around wallowing in anti-materialistic selflessness.

In most people’s minds—not all, but most—the altruistic, self-sacrificial model is the ideal. Even if they haven’t sat down to think about what the “ideal” is, or should be (that’s too deep, after all), they possess this attitude on the emotional level. Even if they don’t want that “ideal” for themselves or their children in practice, they’ve been taught this is supposed to be what’s moral—and are scared to death to be seen questioning it.

Republicans get blamed for the lousy economy because, in their (alleged) advocacy of self-interest, private property and capitalism, they’re seen by most as mean-spirited and bad. Democrats, personified by Obama, are seen as just the opposite. This, despite the fact that Democrats have won—and will continue to win—every significant political battle. Spending, debt and taxes—all have increased, and will continue to increase without limit on our current course.

This is why you have a situation where two-thirds of the country claim that Obama is leading us down the wrong track—bankruptcy and economic stagnation—while almost half the country still likes him, and (I maintain) would still put him back in office today.

In psychological sum, this largely unspoken feeling, if allowed to talk, would say: Obama is a bad president, but morally the better guy.

How can economically impractical be morally superior at the same time? This is the question most consider too deep or “ideological” to consider; yet everything–absolutely everything, in the end–depends on how the great majority of people ultimately answer it.

Somebody has to be wrong. Either (1) we need more capitalism, economic freedom and private property rights than we presently enjoy, so job-creation (91 percent claim this should be the priority) can finally take off; or (2) as the Democrats under Obama claim, self-sacrifice is the only relevant ideal worth considering, and shut up about your economic well-being already, and if you must complain, then blame the Republicans.

Forget Obama’s stupid speech.

If you want to understand the politics of America, you must look deeper into the psyches and the souls of the people who comprise this large and complex nation. These are the unresolved conflicts you’ll find.

The manner in which these conflicts are resolved determines the course of our civilization, including each and every one of our individual futures.


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