The Middle Class’s “Delicate” Psychology during Democratic Historical Periods

Six people were killed and at least 12 others injured by the gunfire that left Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition… Giffords was holding a “Congress on Your Corner” event… That same month, Sarah Palin’s PAC (Political Action Committee) posted a map of the US, showing the locations of the 20 Democratic members of Congress, including Giffords… Each location was marked by an image of a gun crosshairs.
Yahoo News, Jan. 8, 2011

Isn’t it time for us to demand that our government investigate the violence-generating discourse… to protect us citizens and our representatives from the kind of violence that exploded in Arizona?
Michael Lerner, “Shooting of Jewish Congresswoman Giffords Is Not Just a “Tragedy””, Jan. 2011

Does Barack Obama (BO) have a psychological complex? And if so what it can be? – To be the ultimate personification of an inexhaustible goodness? – To symbolize intellectual virtuosity? – To reach a distance from the immanent reactions of the human heart? – To be capable of healing the psychological traumas of neo-conservative politicians and profit-makers by the magic touch of his pure-heartedness and sincerity? – By thinking or hoping that he is invulnerable to the malice and meanness of human cannibalistic greed and stupidity, and sentimental coarseness of pop-emotions? – By feeling that with his enduring angelic innocence he will be able to disarm the egoism and destructiveness of his political opponents and the aggressive impulses of the masses?

Like a typical American child from a Middle class family, BO is oriented on a well deserved and proven honest social success – by educating himself, by mastering professional tasks, by tirelessly developing skills: by the exemplary and serious work on himself. If he could be from the Lower socio-economic stratum he could realize himself through religious beliefs and belonging to a parish, through psychological self-dissolution into patriotism of the land and/or by melting into a community based on shared identity, or, may be, through passionate political belief giving its adept the precious feeling of being super-worthy. On the other hand, if he could be from the upper socio economic layer he could be prone to be fearful of losing his family wealth and prestige, to worry how to multiply family assets and properties, and to calculate how to make more profits and invent new ways to grow money and wealth.

Of course, in today’s atmosphere, when the imperative to become as rich as possible and impossible is the main human drive accumulating the energy of all other interests, too many Middle class kids are dreaming to become more rich than the rich and to make all possible and impossible efforts to succeed. But BO was one of the most refined – he wanted to be an exceptional professional of practical thinking more than to become rich. He was one of those who wanted to create the space for the progress of institutional democracy and for the development of a democratic sensibility in people’s souls.

But the leaps in human sensibility (like from traditional authoritarianism/totalitarianism into a democratic mentality) are not without its traps and dangers. As soon as we hear our heart’s birdie thrill (we feel that we overcame the traditional frame of reference and put our heads above the historical past) we fall victims of the traditional mentality. The best of Middle class specialists were, indeed, able to overcome the paranoid-schizoid sensitivity (roughly speaking, impulsive fragmentary thinking ignoring the wider perspective, and fixation on other people as the origin of our socio-economic problems), but they continue to be hunted by the megalomaniacal overestimation of their ability to resolve the problems by their individual talents, intellectual sophistication and good will. Sometimes the best minds fall victim of this megalomaniacal tendency to underestimate the depth of the conflicts between human interests and the frustrated violent emotions connected with them. To be able to compromise with another side is not enough to be effective as a politician. For neo-conservatives it is easy “to be tough on the opponent” (because they care only about their part of the deal) but for liberals it is equally difficult to effectively pressure the opponent (although, of course, without the malicious cruelties and nastiness of today’s neo-conservative politics).

This toughness even a virtuoso political player like BO cannot achieve – the Middle class background contradicts it. He is too good and too nice to be a politician. The myth that political process in democracy can be pure as puree is the idea indirectly suggested to democrats by the conservatives who reserve to themselves the right of being a partisan in the very moment they demand by-partisanship from democratic opposition.

As a child with a Middle class upbringing BO has learned how to deserve recognition from (and be promoted by) two leading groups presiding over the public realm: liberal professional establishment, and conservative ideological one. To the first he had to prove that he is real professional and that he has the talent, brains and determination to succeed. To the second – that he is no menace, that he is good and positive, a friend and that he has utmost respect for wealth and the wealthy (for the sacred monarchy of the money). It is this “party line” BO continues to play today. This is the old and habitual tactics of the Middle class kids. They want to survive and honestly make it in the world of rich. Professional education and politeness are their steps towards this end.

BO is doomed to try to answer with the gesture of stretching hands full of flowers to the endless stabbings on the part of American neo-conservatives. He himself is a flower amidst the wasteland of neo-conservative politics. He is too good to be real. Will he find a way to become more real – dustier and sweatier (darker?)? Will he be able to step into the manure of real – human political process without using a perfume of sublime mannerisms and refined subordinate clauses? Of course, a person like Mr. Obama will never imitate the stinky dirt of today’s Republican pseudo-politics, but it is not good enough. He has to discover the difference between dirty hands and dusty gloves, between non-violence and non-violence – between smiles (smelling with fear of profound disagreements) and a non-violent toughness. We also have to remember that after voters exposed him to Republican majority in midterm elections of Nov/2010 he has all the reasons to expect that the new House of Representatives will try to impeach him. But, of course, this perspective cannot be averted by the collaborationism with the Big Bags (with bugs and ticks).