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Predictable Behavior Patterns

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    Posted: Aug 15 2009 at 12:13pm
Predictable Behavior Patterns
 
Listening to a taped interview a few years ago of Stephen Covey by Tony Robbins was like being given the key to a puzzle. Although the interview was primarily focused on the teachings of Covey’s book about how individuals and organizations could live more effective and efficient lives, Robbins and Covey also readily described the mindset of those who subscribe to polarized politics. Their discussion made the behavior of polarizers both understandable and predictable.

 

I’ve been reminded of the interview lately with the issues regarding the so-called Birthers and health care insurance reform because the behavior of so-called conservatives regarding those issues dovetails exactly with what Covey and Robbins described.

 

If you advocate a position other than the one self described Conservatives advocate, then you will probably be called a liberal. This is regardless of whether the position you advocate truly deserves to be defined as liberal or not. In addition, the word liberal will be said in the same way you might say the words child molester. Here is why this happens. (By the way, these principles apply to the other side of the political spectrum, too. But the example of the so-called Birthers is more recent and too compelling to ignore, so I’m going to focus there.)

 

Birthers are people who have settled into a set of beliefs. Politically (and probably in other ways) Birthers use those beliefs to categorize and de-humanize people. So long as they are able to categorize and de-humanize other people, Birthers do not have to recognize other people as people. If Birthers had to regard people as people and consider their point of view as legitimate, then Birthers would have to question their own beliefs. Birthers are people who base their self esteem on the superiority of their beliefs. If Birthers (and others like them) are forced to question their own beliefs, then they undergo (as Covey said during the interview) “an ego enema.” Birthers can sense how painful this would be, so Birthers maintain their approach of categorization and de-humanization.

 

Why do people cling to these kinds of beliefs, especially ones involving conspiracies? The answer is simple and universally explained by the teachers of success principles. People who aren’t doing well in their lives want an excuse for why they’re not doing well and why other people don’t think as they do. Believing there is a conspiracy against them is the BS story Birthers need to explain why they are not doing well. If the BS story and/or the conspiracy theory are taken away, then the responsibility for the condition of the individual’s life falls on the individual. For many people, this is too heavy a burden to bear. Such a reality is ironic, given how many Conservatives advocate Social Darwinism.

 

There are three reasons Birthers want to believe Barack Obama is not native born.  First, were Barack Obama not native born, the Obama Presidency would be illegitimate. Second, if Obama’s Presidency is deemed illegitimate, then all his Administration’s proposals are illegitimate as well. No need to debate the merits of those proposals and whether they have true value or not when those proposing them are deemed illegitimate and ineligible to make those proposals. In fact, one could justify resistance to proposed policy as a form of resistance to an occupying force. Third, and perhaps most importantly to their psychological make up, Birthers they can feel “superior” by being “right” (pardon the pun).

 

The problem with this approach is its failure to advance the effectiveness and efficiency of our government. How can we solve our problems when we have a significant portion of the population refusing to execute their responsibilities as citizens to engage in honest and knowledgeable debate in a search for the optimum solutions to our problems?

 

In other words, solving our political issues does not simply involve reconciling different points of view. Solving our problems means overcoming ignorant and perverted points of view rooted in psychological dysfunction.

 

How do you know you are dealing with someone who is psychologically warped and unable to debate politics in an intelligent manner? Look for these tell tale signs.

 

If you disagree with someone on policy proposals, instead of debating the details of the proposal (especially if you show their facts to be wrong) that someone will de-humanize you by describing you as being in a category they hate. For example, a self described conservative will call you a liberal. This type of individual thinks like this. If you are not their friend, then you must be their enemy. This type of individual has extreme difficulty in processing nuance and considering alternative points of view.

 

By contrast, the healthy personality will be willing and able to consider your point of view and make adjustments to their own beliefs to find better solutions.

 

So what are you as an independent voter to do when you feel both parties are populated by dysfunctional thinkers?

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