A growing number of Republicans have the traits of a sociopath
Note: For this article, I am using the term sociopath to describe Antisocial Personality Disorder. According to many websites, a diagnosis of APD often leads to what is known as a sociopath.
When we hear the word “sociopath,” typically our minds turn to serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer, Ed Gein or Ted Bundy. Most sociopaths are different than psychotics; sociopaths often do not kill or physically harm others. You can be married to, or work for a sociopath and never know. You can even vote for one.
Politicians share many of the same traits as a sociopath. Narcissism, delusions of grandeur, the ability to lie at the drop of a hat are all at least somewhat necessary to achieve a place in the political hierarchy of America. Those may be traits shared by politicians in other countries, but since we are most affected by our own representatives, let’s keep our focus here. For the past thirty years or so, the party that seems to have attracted the most sociopaths is the GOP.
Sociopaths do not feel empathy. To them, people are simply things to be used for their own pleasure, objects that have no worth. A sociopath will look at a hungry child, or a person with a terminal illness, or the survivor of rape and be unable to comprehend what that person is feeling. For example, a sociopath speaking about rape victims becoming pregnant might attempt to qualify rape as “legitimate,” thus demeaning the rape victims and the violent act they survived.
Pathological lying is a common trait among sociopaths. Since they have no moral compass, they see no reason to tell the truth if doing so does not benefit them in some way. A sociopath will have a history of lying, about anything from the most trivial event to criminal activity, like arson and car theft. And since the sociopath gets away with lying time and time again, they never stop.
The ultimate goal of many sociopaths is to create a willing victim. Ariel Castro blamed his victims for his crimes during his sentencing hearing, refusing to take any responsibility for his own actions. Now, Castro was also a psychopath, but the underlying action was the same as that of sociopaths: blame the victim. A good example of this in relation to the GOP is their constant blaming of the poor for the troubles in America.
During the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney blamed single mothers for gun violence. More recently, Marco Rubio, citing a study done by Tim LaHaye’s wife, Beverly, said the answer to poverty is more marriage, again, blaming single parent households. While not necessarily creating willing victims in every state, there is startling data suggesting that the sociopaths in the GOP are creating some in their own red states.
The poorest state in America is Mississippi. The median household income in Mississippi is less than $37,000 a year, the unemployment rate is approximately 10% and the poverty rate is 21.3%. The governor of Mississippi is Phil Bryant, a Republican. Senators Roger Vicker and Thad Cochran are the two Republican senators. In 2012, Mississippi went to Mitt Romney, the man who said that 47% of Americans see themselves as victims and dependent on the government.
According to the Department of Agriculture, 22% of Mississippi residents rely on food stamps. In 2011, Mississippi spent $1.5 billion on welfare. And in 2012, this hungry, unemployed, Republican-governed state, the poorest state in America, voted for Mitt Romney and the GOP. The residents of Mississippi are willing victims of a party made up of sociopaths.
When you combine narcissism, pathological lying, lack of empathy and the need to create willing victims using politics, what you get is a party of sociopaths. There are some emotionally stable Republicans in America; unfortunately the sociopaths who have taken over their party have the charisma, the charm and the doublespeak down so well that the stable Republicans have no voice. John Boehner learned that the hard way. He gave Tea Party sociopaths the reins and when he realized exactly what he’d done, he tried to reverse course. And the unadulterated rage that had been lurking below the surface of the right wing boiled over.
The only way to fix this is to get the sociopaths out of politics. Unfortunately, as I wrote above, some criteria of Antisocial Personality Disorder may be necessary for a career in public office. Bill Clinton is an excellent example. He was a fantastic president, and he had some similar traits to a sociopath. But we have actual, full-blown sociopaths serving in both Houses and they’ve proven time and time again their lack of empathy, their penchant for lying and victim blaming and their utter disregard for the majority of Americans. They will burn this country to the ground just to watch the flames.
Many pundits and journalists have wondered aloud if the GOP will destroy itself. It might, given the fact that the far right hates the status quo and vice versa, but can we afford to let the party of sociopaths maintain their strangle hold on our country? Do we sit home in November, like many did in 2010, or do we look around and realize we are in real danger? It’s up to us. The willing victims cannot see what is being done to them until it’s too late. But by that time, it may be too late for us all.