Psychological Policy For Presidents: The Deplorable Dilemma

We are used to the banter of back and forth allegations of insanity in one's opponent. And God forbid, someone should be exposed as having been on psychotropic medication (how high is that percentage for the country in general?) or having seen or having the need for, a therapist, and all hell would break loose.
09/17/2016 02:12 pm ET Updated Sep 18, 2017

Just when I thought this Campaign couldn't get worse, I woke up so to speak, to the deplorability speech of Hillary Clinton. That contained her descriptions of Donald Trump supporters, as haters, as bad, as deplorable, as (ouch!) "a basket of deplorables". I could hardly believe my ears, for a few reasons. One is that I have been struggling to understand the appeal of Donald Trump to so many people, and in so doing I have found myself looking for the underbelly of his attraction to all of us, whether we love or hate him.

The search involves an understanding from within as well. This means a struggle to avoid quick moral judgment, especially when it is our neighbors that we are judging. In addition there is the need--and herein has lied a flaw of many Liberals--to diminish our feeling privileged when it comes to moral rectitude. If Jung was right about the shadow, then we are all potential murderers. And when we put ourselves in the position of aggressive judge with demeaning overtones, we are little better than those we are demeaning.

We look for attractiveness; let's say charisma, for strength, for wisdom even, in a leader. But we don't tend to really ask ourselves about what would be the President's capacity for calling a spade a spade, for telling the truth and asking us to share in solutions. And we tend to ignore policies regarding psychological fitness and practices, except in a very narrow perspective.

We are used to the banter of back and forth allegations of insanity in one's opponent. And God forbid, someone should be exposed as having been on psychotropic medication (how high is that percentage for the country in general?) or having seen or having the need for, a therapist, and all hell would break loose.

Let's return to Hillary, shall we? What is wrong with her? Or what is wrong with her advisers? Do any of them really think this is acceptable behavior to demean all Trump supporters? Does she not know she too is a racist who has directly or indirectly benefited from her own whiteness of physical neighborhood, as in suburb? Does she not know that even people who are criminals, who are homophobic, are also people who are also scared?

I don't want to do the perennial Liberal dance of appearing to side with people who to me--especially those who defy the facts of climate change and will not consider gun control, among others--are upsetting beyond. However I do know that one of the things we are facing as a country is how on earth--really--we might live together with a modicum of desire, even, to share in looking at evidence and having a consensus instead of a constant warring amongst ourselves.
And as such, to me any leader, any President would need to have skills in negotiating human frailties, and differences, with more of a power to bring understanding than to increase the hatred and humiliation that are abounding.

Tons of Trump supporters have been or still are undecided. Several feel alienated and at a loss. Many of them feel terrible distrust of government, and the latter is what Hillary Clinton represents to many. Is she speaking to these people as people and trying to bring them into a discussion? Or is she just insulting them in the hopes that voters will see her as just as strong and aggressive as Donald Trump?
And what would she do (or he for that matter) with the people who were the opponents in the Election--jail them/us or eject us or continue to bully?

We haven't had much experience with strong people who know their weaknesses, well enough so that they don't have the need or the craving to bully others. We also don't see acknowledging mistakes or making an apology (okay, Trump on that birth issue, for example) out loud. We don't yet see psychological wisdom as including the humility of what it involves to be human--including how each of us is vulnerable to bullying and to becoming a bully.

I hope Hillary Clinton gets ahold of her own tendency to bully her opponents, and to realize how nasty, defeating and how self-defeating this tactic is. I hope she does so in order to be electable. But also I hope she has that kind of character, where she allows herself to see how her terminology and condescension to Trump supporters, is also deplorable.

There are some words in the English language, at least in America that are standouts for moral righteousness and superiority, and "deplorable" is one of them. "Appalled" would be another. At the same time, there is no doubt that some things are appalling and deplorable both. This isn't moral relativism in saying slavery and genocide, are signs of vulnerability and Hitler just needs--belatedly-- a little better understanding. It's more like acknowledging, that dammit, we are all complicit. Those of us who hate Trump are frequently having too much fun in the hating, in repeating ourselves over and over again, while we are part of the hatred, and the attraction to him.

It's taken me a long time to get any of this; that we are all involved in the national climate. And part of the reason is that psychological fitness, one that really involves awareness of the breadth and depth of our own feelings, is really hardly stressed at all in our education. There is, to most of us the bully OR the bullied, and we stay resistant to knowing there can be both in one, and that we can be both as well.

Lastly, Madam President (I hope), please know you will lead much more wisely if you open yourself up to the plethora of your emotional responses, and judge others AND yourself way less harshly than you seem to at present.