Patriotism is broadly defined as one’s love and devotion to their country. The political arena magnifies charges of a candidate as either being patriotic or the converse. Two days before the 2008 presidential election John McCain is attempting to paint Barack Obama as less than patriotic. This charge is levied because of Obama’s recent comment about feeling his faith in America had been vindicated after his primary win in Iowa.
In my therapy practice my attention is often focused upon clarity of communication. It’s the cornerstone of successful relationships and a subject that was glaringly omitted from our education. This is a complex subject, but with a little work we can make great strides.
Nowhere is this issue more evident than in the politics of the day. The candidates, their surrogates and the media pundits are all egregiously deficient in some fundamental facets of dialogue. The exchanges, and particularly the heated ones, are absent what I refer to as shared meaning. Listening to argumentation without any agreement as to what we’re actually disagreeing about is absurdly frustrating.
Early in his primary campaign Barack Obama urged that there wasn’t a blue America and a red America, but one America. His exhortations toward unity, transcending a split country were inspiring. His was a fresh mindset that seemed to catapult the divisions of us vs them, right against wrong. Recent events have caused me to reconsider this belief.
It has become glaringly apparent to me that the orientation and values of the Democratic and Republican parties might be distilled down to the issue of whether one blinks or not. This difference was illuminated last night during Sarah Palin’s first interview. When asked if she were ready for the job, she indicated that she didn’t blink when asked to become McCain’s running mate. She went further to indicate that she was wired in that manner. Many members of the Republican party value the instinctive, no blink, macho response. Indeed, it is seen as masculine and patriotic.
Once a year, the president is required to have their annual physical check up. We want to assure ourselves that our leader is in proper working order; at least physically. Our orientation toward the physical at the cost of ignoring the psychological/emotional is both short sighted and potentially calamitous. We are at far greater risk of disaster due to a president’s emotional distress or psychological disorder than from disease or even a heart attack. A competent vice-president is at least theoretically able to step in as an able replacement. But the consequences of executive actions derived from a challenged psyche could literally end life on this planet.
The term flip-flopper generally evokes notions of politician’s charges against one another as they change their positions on issues. It suggests that one or the other is being hypocritical as they are altering their positions as it becomes politically expedient to do so. During the Bush-Kerry campaign, the Republicans were the aggressor more often in using this tactic.
Mel Schwartz Psychotherapy & Marriage Counseling • 246 Post Road East, Suite 275 Westport, CT 06880
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