American values

August 14, 2012

Now that Paul Ryan is in the spot light so much, with his selection as Mitt Romney’s running mate, I am struck by how his particularly combination of coping mechanisms and emotional damage from his father’s death during his adolescence is positively received by many Americans.

What I see in Ryan is someone who took a hard blow and was able, with his combination of strengths and weaknesses, to succeed materially but not mature emotionally.  Such people apparently flock to conservatism and the Republican Party and then take out, or try to take out, on other people the emotions they have been unable to process.

I am sorry for Paul Ryan’s loss and the toll it obviously took on him, and kudos to him for getting through on self-sufficiency, Ayn Rand, and supply-side economics (and for material, political, and social success) — “whatever gets you through the night.”  But I wish he would examine the emotional underpinnings to his need to dismantle the safety net for others and to force them to experience whatever terrible emotions he experienced at sixteen.  Because that is what I see, someone who by not dealing with his own inner life is acting it out at other people’s expense, in a socially acceptable way and on a national stage.

Of course, we in the audience play a role in this.  Why is it that Americans value the material success and social acceptance displayed by others and seem to ignore things like arrested emotional development?  Why don’t we gravitate more towards people with values like Jesus and the Buddha for political leadership, too?  We don’t value our inner lives enough, I think, and we value our outer lives too much.


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