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Thankfully There Are No Sociopaths in Politics

“And so without our primordial attachments to others,
what would we be?
Evidently, we would be the players of a game, one that resembled a giant chess match, with our fellow human beings as the rooks, the knights, and the pawns. For this is the essence of sociopathic behavior, and desire.”
― Martha Stout, The Sociopath Next Door

Oh my!

I was doing some research this morning and stumbled on a list of characteristics that were interesting but irrelevant to what I was looking for. When I first read the list, I thought it was about politicians and the smart kids that run the shadow government in the back rooms – but I think I must have been wrong.

It’s actually a list of most of the characteristics that psychiatrists use to identify and diagnose sociopaths and as we all know, the people who govern on our behalf are anything but. You only have to read the list of characteristics to see that is true.

  •  Superficial charm and good intelligence
  • Signs of irrational thinking
  • Unreliability
  • Untruthfulness and insincerity
  • Lack of remorse and shame
  • Inadequately motivated antisocial behavior
  • Poor judgment and failure to learn by experience
  • Pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love
  • General poverty in major affective reactions
  • Specific loss of insight
  • Unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations

– Hervey Cleckley’s clinical profiles. In The Mask of Sanity

When I first read the list, I thought it was referring to pretty much everyone involved in the Senate Expense Scandal. Certainly we’ve seen more than ample examples of  all of these characteristics from just about everyone concerned, including the Prime Minister.

But then I thought, surely we couldn’t be so stupid as a nation, and especially not as conservatives, to have allowed our government to be taken over and run by sociopaths. That would just be nuts – wouldn’t it?

And, of course, Canadians, and conservatives in particular, aren’t nuts – well – maybe a few of us; but the majority are kind, caring and fair-minded folks who respect the rights of others aren’t we? We’re not the kind of people to encourage and support anti-social behaviour that tramples rights or are inconsistent and hypocritical in how we apply our values.

We believe in free speech, due process and presumption of innocence. We don’t put our political ideology and self-interest ahead of the rights of others and we certainly wouldn’t dream of ducking responsibility for our own actions.

We’re conservatives and we believe in being accountable for what we do.

Still, it is a bit disconcerting to realize that much of what we support in politics lately seems to be consistent with a recognized, somewhat serious medical disorder. I doubt, however, that it will be on the table for discussion at the Conservative Annual Convention this weekend. Despite what the media pundits are saying about the dark cloud of the Senate Scandal hanging over the BMO Centre in Calgary, the convention will be pretty much a love-in.

It won’t reach the level of wearing flowers in their hair and pretending the Convention is Woodstock 2013, these are conservatives after all but it will be close. The Prime Minister will speak to great cheers and applause. There will be copious shots of people shaking his hand and hugging him and lots of breathless sound bites for our friends in the national media.

There will be lots of cowboy hats too; lots and lots of cowboy hats.

It will be so full of love and fluff (and cowboy hats); it will seem positively Liberal. The only thing missing will be a rousing chorus of Kumbaya and perhaps a spontaneous cameo appearance by Justin Trudeau. He seems to be popping up all over the place these days and his speaking fees are quite reasonable.

There will be a few resolutions from the floor that raise issues around the handling of the Senate Expense Scandal and our vets but they won’t get much traction. It will all be choreographed and staged; packaged and managed and everyone will leave on Sunday with a feeling that all is well in the world.

On Monday, reality will be waiting. Nothing will have changed because the other characteristic of sociopathic behaviour is the ability to delude yourself into believing you’re right and the rest of the world is wrong. Unfortunately self delusion isn’t our friend and, a majority of Canadians don’t seem to be waiting for the hard-core conservative base to catch up.

Reality is like gravity, it’s unrelenting and its consequences are often harsh. The RCMP will wrap up their investigation at some point in 2014 as will the Auditor General. If those investigations result in charges against any of the current participants in this sordid affair or the revelation of a consistent expense claim abuse, it will be enough to collide with the next election campaign.

And if that happens, it will be too late for those conservatives who preferred to defend Stephen Harper’s handling of this issue rather than standing on principle to defend conservative values.. The opposition will be able to run a dead pig in the election and have a better than middlin’ chance of winning.

Maybe we would have been better off to elect a few sociopaths. At least then we would know what we’re dealing with before it all hits the fan rather than being caught by surprise  so regularly.


© 2013 Maggie’s Bear

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  • brad maynard

    thanks for the list. I read mises.org all the time and politicians are always referred to as sociopaths. now I have context. :)

    • MaggiesBear

      I suppose we should be thankful that they aren’t psychopaths. :-)

  • Francien Verhoeven

    Reality is indeed like gravity: it is the need to unite which is the drive for gravity as well as reality.

    Party politics is such drive to unite, but all which is, is as drive to unite. How members of the media patch their stories together, is also a drive to unite, namely their particular outlook in mind out of which THEY derive the bits and pieces in order to hang onto something to unite with. And so forth.

    • MaggiesBear

      I believe that’s tribalism, the need to belong to something which eventually becomes more important than your own values and principles. Reality doesn’t respect tribes or individuals. In the end, it can pull down any one of us.just as easily as gravity pulls down a rock.

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