Genuine mental illness is a human tragedy that afflicts both the sufferer and those around him or her. Our healthcare system provides inadequate resources for its treatment,. It’s no joking matter.
Political craziness, on the other hand, is just crazy. It’s sheer lunacy of the Marx Brothers variety.
There’s no need to pity anyone who suffers from political craziness. The delusional person does just fine, thank you very much. Everybody else suffers, but the politically crazy person usually has a pretty great life. They’re often rewarded for being delusional by being elected to high office. There they can count on enjoying fat campaign contributions and glowing media coverage.
Once they leave office they can look forward to the financially rewarding (and not very taxing) life of a political lobbyist. No, they don’t need our sympathy – but the country needs our help. Their craziness is ruining things for everyone else.
You’re probably asking yourself, “How can I tell my candidate suffers from political insanity?” Here are five warning signs to look out for during this election year:
1. Repetitive Delusion
Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” We’ve just experienced three decades of lower tax rates for the wealthiest Americans. And we’re completing a decade in which the wealthiest among us have enjoyed a top tax rate of only 35 percent (compared to 91 percent under Republican President Eisenhower, 70 percent under Republican President Nixon, and 50 percent when Republican President Reagan took office.)
Not only that, but few wealthy people even pay that much. They take advantage of additional tax breaks to pay even less, and the GOP is fiercely resisting the very mild “Buffett rule” that would place a floor on tax rates for the rich.
And we haven’t even begun to talk about corporate tax breaks.
We’re told that we need to have all these tax giveaways to the wealthy because they create jobs. Well, where are the jobs? We’ve given away the store in tax breaks for the rich and powerful, and unemployment’s at record levels. Yet politicians keep recommending more of the same.
Does your candidate suffer from repetitive tax delusion?
2. Seeing Things That Aren’t There
Political insanity leads its victims to see things that aren’t there.
They may suffer from projection which reflects their own internal struggles. If they’re gay and don’t want to be, for example, they may demonize gay people and campaign against gay marriage. If they’re corrupt they may accuse their opponents of corruption.
Or they may sublimate racism and other socially unacceptable traits into mad fantasies: The President is a secret Kenyan. ACORN is a conspiracy. Democrats caused the swine flu epidemic. They’re trying to take our guns. All Muslims are terrorists – and they’re trying to impose an Islamic sharia-law state in Oklahoma.
Does your candidate see things that aren’t there?
3. Persecution Paranoia
Many victims of political insanity believe that they’re being persecuted by a vast, invisible conspiracy. They’ll go on Internet radio shows, for example, and say that the media is secretly being directed by the President to say bad things about them – when, if anything, the media’s going too easy on them.
Candidates with persecution paranoia may say that reporters or others “recoil” at people who have “values.” Or that they’re being persecuted as part of a drive to get “Christianity out of public life.” They even believe that lesbians tried to kidnap them in the ladies’ room.
“They’re out to get me!” It’s a common symptom of political insanity.
Does your candidate suffer from persecution paranoia?
4. Messiah Complex
Many years ago a psychiatrist performed a cruel experiment which he came to regret later in life. He put three mentally people, all of whom believed they were Jesus Christ, in the same room to see what would happen.
He wouldn’t have needed to perform that experiment today. He could’ve just watched the Republican Presidential debates instead.
Politicians who suffer from this syndrome say things like “God told me to run,” or “I’m on a divinely inspired mission.” They appear to believe that the Supreme Being is also a political ward boss, doling out divine patronage from the great Smoke-Filled Room in the Sky. They believe His political interests extend as far down the political ladder as Midwestern State Senate races and as high as the Presidency during campaigns past and present.
Does your candidate suffer from a Messiah Complex?
5. Hearing Voices That Tell Them to Do Bad Things
Most disturbingly of all, the Messiah Complex is frequently accompanied by the idea that the harmful policies they’re promoting are part of a divinely inspired mission. They may act on these imagined instructions from the Almighty by starting unnecessary wars that lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Or they may believe that God is creating natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods just to let them know that He wants them to cut spending by cutting off food programs for needy children, denying medical care to the sick and wounded, or depriving disabled and elderly people of their Social Security benefits.
What do we call a person who thinks God told them to hurt innocent people?
Does your candidate hear voices that tell them to do bad things?
You Can Help
These telltale signs should help you spot politically-insane candidates and stop them before they cause any more harm.
But what’s to be done about an entire political party that welcomes them into its fold, places them in leadership positions, and never insists on even minimum standards of sanity and decency among its ranks? That’s a tough one.
A disclaimer: We may be told that it’s not polite to describe those with whom you disagree as “crazy.” But we’re not just talking about conservatism per se here, nor are we just addressing differences in economic philosophy. We’re talking about an entire syndrome that leads people to deny reality, abandon long-held standards of courtesy and fair play, and do a lot of damage to innocent people – while everyone else pretends it’s not happening.
In fact, there will be a lot of political insanity on display in this election year. So if you encounter a political candidate who suffers from any of these symptoms, please use extreme caution. Smile, and shake their hand if they offer it. Speak in a soft and gentle voice so they don’t become agitated.
But whatever you do, don’t vote for them. It only encourages them – and hurts everyone else.