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Obama and the Liberal Personality

 article about Obama and the Liberal Personality

This article belongs to Barrack Obama theme.


Party loyalty and personality. Where does Obama rank?

Training in experimental psychology taught me to examine behavior and to look for marked differences or striking similarities between and among individuals. However, my personal notes, taken while examining behavior, are little more than subjective impressions; they are certainly not absolute judgments or conclusions.

After observing the American political scene for many years, I do see personality differences between conservatives and liberals; more specifically, between Republicans and Democrats. Some of these differences have been noted by others. There is wide overlap between the two groups in terms of values and priorities. Generalizations are perilous, but worth a try.

It seems to me that whether or not a person is conservative or liberal is, at the heart of it, a matter of personality. So, are there distinct Republican and Democratic personalities? I'd like to know what readers think. Here are some possibilities:

Authority: Most Republicans seem to follow a strong authority figure in life. If they do well, they expect to become authority figures for others.

Symbols: Republicans use flags, lapel pins, and bumper stickers to validate their beliefs while Democrats like demonstrations and debate.

Security issues: Republicans value personal security while Democrats tend to value a social or collective security.

Reward and punishment: Republicans prefer prisons and punishment for social misdeeds while Democrats prefer therapy and rehabilitation programs for law breakers when such programs seem feasible.

Military: Our past Republican administration preferred military force over diplomacy. Democrats want to talk first and fight as a last resort.

Competition: Although Republicans talk about competition and free enterprise, they often seem to do their best to eliminate competition in ways other than superior performance. Large corporations lobby Congress for exemptions, tax breaks, and other special favors for individual corporations.

Self-interest: Many Republicans fall under the influence of Ayn Rand's doctrines of selfishness and greed. We have recently seen what unrestricted greed can do to an economy, and so now we are trying to repair the damage. Democrats favor the idea of a common good over personal gain. Democrats favor a well-to-do middle class, which is not compatible with the Republican desire for cheap labor.

Education: Republicans prefer private schools and private collages while Democrats favor good public education, community colleges, and state colleges, Republicans prefer education for the upper class while Democrats prefer free education of all.

Labor: Republicans want cheap labor and are willing to use less expensive labor in other countries. They do what they can to limit labor unions and the influence of organized labor. One way to promote cheap labor in the United States is, of course, to limit education for the middle class. Uneducated people work for less than educated people.

Tolerance: Republicans seem more intolerant of behavior that deviates from what they consider the norm. For example, they tend to vote against same sex marriage.

Freedom of choice: Many Republicans champion the idea of free will but oppose freedom of choice in cases of abortion, contraception, and assisted suicide.

Government regulation: Republicans, of course, dislike government regulation and want a free hand in all their personal and business affairs. Democrats favor government oversight in many areas including food production, transportation, health, the financial markets, and so forth.

Science and faith: Science is better supported under Democratic administrations. Bush put his emphasis on religion; science funding was secondary in his administration. Two-thirds of the American people do not believe in Darwin's evolution, amazing in light of their dependence on the technologies produced by science.

Dogma and pragmatism: The so-called Neocons (new conservatives who wrote the battle plan for the Bush presidency) followed specific ideals and principles while their Democratic opponents were willing to do what situations called for.

Conflict resolution: In a debate, Republicans are prone to resort to personal ad hominem attacks while Democrats are more likely to stay with the logic of their positions.

Intelligence: It has been said that Democrats are generally more intelligent than Republicans. Republicans leaders are ideologists who follow a set of materialistic values. These leaders command a huge population of Middle Americans who are under-educated, religious, and conservative.

So, how does President Obama look in terms of the liberal personality I've described above? I think it is really too early to tell, but he's looking pretty liberal at this point. At least I have some specific dimensions with which to judge him.


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