The Highly Sensitive Male and politics – where do we gravitate towards?
This has been an incredulous political season. All manner of politicians and non-politicians have cast themselves into the political fray to run for office. Particularly interesting has been the run for the presidency. I have never seen such a time of political backstabbing, muckraking, out right lying - with no consequences, and general political nastiness, unseen by my eyes in, well, forever.
No one wants to discuss real issues, no one seems to care. It’s all about showboating the TV ratings with outrageous claims and stunts. HSPs hate this crap. Because of our empathic nature we hate seeing people, regardless of their political views, get their asses handed to them on a platter during a debate. It’s unpleasant, unsettling and unsavory. Most of us just tune it out. It offers no value, no redemption, and no reason to focus our attention. In fact, it’s very embarrassing. Yes, we are embarrassed for the country.
So where do HSMs tend to gravitate politically? I don’t have any study, survey or empirical evidence for this, but I surmise we lean mostly towards the party that shows the most heart. We are a liberal leaning, progressive thinking lot and would likely hang out with folks that shared our joint, collective empathy towards our fellow man and the planet. That’s just not sounding Republican or Libertarian to me.
The highly mythical Empathic Party or what is red and blue with a little bit of green?
If there did exist a political party that HSPs would find most appealing it would be, perhaps, a lot blue, maybe some red (he ducks) and a little green. This would be the Empathic Party, a fictitious collection of people that actually gives a damn about the population of this country, and I mean the entire population of this country. This used to mean the Democratic Party, the party of the people, the party of equality, the party of the middle class. Thanks to Bernie Sanders, we may be getting that party back.
The state of our country since Reaganomics – the rule of the Reptilian class
So what happened? In a word, Reaganomics. The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 completely changed the dynamic of political discourse in this country. The civility and bipartisanship of days before were promptly washed away and a new political agenda was foisted on the American populace. Ronald Reagan, a make believe cowboy rode into town and with him a gang of elitist, reptilian brained operatives began to use the politics of survival and made politics no longer a profession of discourse and debate, but rather guerrilla warfare.
Do you remember Lee Atwater? How about the manipulation of media with Roger Ailes? This strategy shutdown an era of sensible politics and occasional collaboration from both sides of the aisle. From here on it was war. Character assassination was the new norm. Political intrigue devolved into the swampy depths as opponents were branded as un-American for disagreeing with the new jingoism of the Reagan era.
The destruction of the middle class had begun, as with the diminished role of government as a moderating force against greed and self-aggrandizement, the big wheels ran amok. I won't continue in too much more depth about the after effects of the Reagan regime, but I think you can easily turn on the television and see the results for yourself.
This move towards, what I term, reptilian politics, is really about where the focus of political thought originates. It is clear to me that most of this “thought” emanates from the reptilian part of the human brain, the part that focuses on raw emotion, on survival of the individual, and the destruction of anything that gets in the way of that motive.
You can cap that with intellectual neo-cortex rationalization and make it look like its deep and important, but in the end it’s the same driver that has kept us in a regressed mode for millennia. The consequences of which are damage to ourselves, our climate and to our future. Think: war, poverty, famine and concentration of wealth in the hands of the most powerful and greedy individuals.
This has led us to our most current crisis – an Empathy Deficit Disorder. We are growing less and less empathetic and it shows in our politics. I mean really, Donald Trump is polling about forty percent of the population, and probably many more who can’t or won’t admit that he represents their beliefs. We are in a serious crisis.
Where HSMs and HSPs can make a difference
In a 2014 Pew poll about empathy in politics, liberals and conservative were asked about how important certain values were to teach to children. Conservatives focused on religion, obedience and hard work. Liberals cared more about tolerance, empathy, curiosity and creativity. These are traits mostly shared by HSPs and are characteristic of individuals with a high degree and capacity for empathy. This would include, of course, highly sensitive males.
Although we make up only twenty percent of the population, HSPs need to make our voices heard. That’s hard for us, especially in this combative political climate. But we are that ocean wave powerfully and relentlessly smashing against the rocky shore. Gently shaping and altering the landscape of the shoreline, with persistence and consistency.
It does not require that we change the world immediately and drastically, but our influence can be gentle, yet powerful. Through our art, our words, our wise counsel and the emotion that empathy brings. Sometimes a whisper is as effective as a shout, when heard in the right ears.
This is where the mammalian brain kicks in. The emphasis is on the collective as opposed to the often selfish motivations of an individual only focused society. The collective society focus is greater in terms of survival of the species than the almost desperate reptilian need for individual survival.
Fulfilling the evolutionary mission
Our purpose (HSPs) is to warn the species, to calm the impulsive and reckless warrior heart and offer good counsel to our leaders, and, to be good stewards and leaders ourselves when placed in those positions. We are the balance and the early warning system for the species. We are the canary in the mind shaft. It is not a trivial responsibility.
Future generations may depend on our reining the havoc wrecked on our society by one dimensional policies that disregard the future, for the ever present quarterly result. This is a madness that can be tamed with the aid of the collective wisdom of our HSP males and females. It’s time to gently kick some shit around and make ourselves noticed.
A shout out to Graham Nash, an HSM with political integrity
As a last thought, to honor a political activist, musician and a gentle man, Graham Nash, whose song Chicago was a anthem to sixties protest and activism, I tip my hat to you. I have always found your songs to be simple, heartfelt and meaningful and apropos for that moment in time you penned them. But we all know now that they are timeless, as is the case with most art that reaches down into the soul with a message. You have always shown political integrity and you are a man of your word. And a model for all HSMs out here.
Thanks for dropping by, until next week.
Bill Allen lives in Bend, Oregon. He is a certified hypnotist and brain training coach at BrainPilots.com. He believes that male sensitivity is not so rare, but it can be confounding for most males living in a culture of masculine insensitivity which teaches boys and men to disconnect from their feelings and emotions. His intent is to use this blog to chronicle his personal journey and share with others.