Monday, August 29, 2016

Life, Liberty, and the Sociopathic Pursuit of Wealth

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

(The United States Declaration of Independence)

Well, it has been decided.  Donald Trump will be the Presidential Candidate for the Republican Party and Hillary Clinton will be the candidate for the Democrats.  I know.  It's so easy to say that "these are the choices?"  Yes, they are and it says miles about what kind of nation the United States of America has morphed into.

The nation was indeed founded on lofty ideals arising from the Enlightenment, extending to the early settlers primarily from Britain, but the rights were not extended to the indigenous peoples and the African slaves.  It would take a bloody civil war during the nineteenth century and the struggles of the civil rights movement of the twentieth to arrive at some semblance of all humans being created equal although many members of the indigenous, feminist, and LGBT communities might disagree.

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Looking closely at the aforementioned unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, it seems clear enough that one has the right to be alive and to be free to do as one wishes within the existing legal framework, but it is the pursuit of happiness that raises the most concerns, especially how it is presently pursued in the United States.  To be happy requires, at the very least, that one's basic survival needs: food and water, adequate shelter, clothing, education, and the possibility of earning a living are met and in a manner in which that one doesn't have to worry from one day to the next if they will be.  That being said, it is evident that millions of Americans have reason to belief that their pursuit of happiness has been seriously impeded by social structures that favor one segment of the society, the rich, at the expense of the majority of Americans.

To be sure both candidates represent the interests of wealthy Americans who desire to focus their pursuit of happiness on their pursuit of wealth.  In fact, both candidates are multi-millionaires.  In the case of Donald Trump, he inherited his wealth from his father and has continued in his father's footsteps as a real estate developer.  In the case of Hillary Clinton, she was born into a family of more modest means, but yet somehow managed to team up with her husband, the former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, to parlay their public service careers into a multi-million sum of net worth.  In other words, one was born rich, the other got rich.

Essentially, they represent two sides of the same coin, the sociopathic pursuit of wealth.  By that I mean that they embody characteristics often associated with sociopaths: narcissism, lack of empathy, a belief that they are exempt from societal norms and rules, and engaging in intentional deceit to advance their self interest.  Taken together these characteristics bring forth an attitude of indifference with regard to how their behavior might have negative consequences for others.

Of the two candidates, it is much more apparent that Trump manifests sociopathic tendencies.  He is unabashed in his efforts to promote his name and image -- to such an extent that some journalists are saying that he is not a serious candidate and is only using the Presidential campaign as a means to promote his name and the Trump brand.  Given his outlandish statements, for example, telling people he intends to build a wall between the United States and Mexico to keep out the drug dealers and rapists and will get the Mexicans to pay for it, it doesn't seem out of the realm of the possible that he is testing the limits of what he can say and do as a candidate in order to cash in on his exploits at a latter date.  Moreover, his crass comments about minorities clearly demonstrates lack of empathy and his refusal to make public his personal financial records show a blatant disregard for the public's right to know sufficiently the background of the person they are contemplating voting into the most powerful political position on the planet. 

Of course, his economic plans include reducing the taxes of the most wealthy and improving the economic lot of white, lesser educated, males by implementing xenophobic social and economic policies.  Less immigrants supposedly means more jobs for white people, not necessarily good paying jobs with benefits, but jobs nonetheless.

With Clinton, the sociopathic tendencies are not as readily apparent, and she exploits the constant opportunity to redirect attention concerning important questions about her character and behavior towards the easy target, Donald Trump.  Repeatedly, members of the public raise the question of how could the Clintons become so rich as politicians supposedly employed by them to advance the public good.  It is well known that she was paid princely sums to give speeches to associations from the financial sector on Wall Street, but she refuses to make public the transcripts of the speeches.  Perhaps, the so-called speeches were little more than bribes attached to services rendered and to be rendered at a later date.  Likewise, what are the connections between the Clinton Foundation and the US State Department, of which Hillary Clinton was the Secretary of State?  It appears that donations to the Foundation opened doors within the Obama administration.  Answers could be forthcoming but unfortunately people who could shed light on what was happening behind closed doors end up dying under mysterious circumstances before they have the opportunity to testify.  Similarly, important and troubling questions about how the integrity of the Democratic Party Primaries leading to Hillary's nomination as the Party's Presidential candidate remain unanswered to date although a number of lawsuits alleging electoral fraud have been launched, the President of Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was forced to resign, and a few people who worked on Clinton's campaign have also met their untimely demise. 

Although Hillary appears to be much more liberal in her social views, her economic policies favor the pursuit of wealth by the rich liberal elite, those educated at Ivy League universities, like Hillary, Bill, and Obama, who parlay their social connections in the financial, legal, technology, and entertainment sectors to do very well for themselves in the neo-liberal order they helped to create.  It should be noted that Hillary is already more than half way to her goal of raising one billion dollars for her presidential campaign.

Looking forward to the Presidential election in November the average American has very little to hope for.  Both candidates represent the interests of the already and the soon-to-be rich.  For those on the outside looking in on the spectacle of the ostentatious display of wealth that the modern-day Gatsby-like personas love to put on, good luck to you.  However, if you believe that your vote could make a difference and you are thinking that maybe it is in the best interest to limit the damage that either one of these sociopaths could inflict upon America, you should consider voting for a progressive candidate in the Senatorial or Congressional elections.