Is Joe Biden a Narcissist?
It's already 2022 and, after hearing for years and years about how Donald Trump has been a narcissist all his life - an assessment that's not unreasonable, based on his love-starved childhood, impulsive decisions, shallow self-aggrandizement, dubious morality, scandal-ridden intimate relationships and the superficial charm that nevertheless popularized him - I began to wonder about politicians other than the orange monster. If it's really true that there is a significant link between increased political participation and narcissism, don't we have bigger problems than just one President? We know that traits like attention-seeking, need for adulation, an inflated sense of self-importance, a strong desire for power, dishonesty, and a propensity for manipulative behaviours, are considered narcissistic...but aren't these traits practically prerequisites for all politicians, everywhere?
If so, that would mean that every prominent political figure is highly narcissistic. Even this guy.
I'm not a huge fan of Sleepy Joe, but that doesn't mean he's a narcissist. Sure, he's done some shady things, like eulogizing Senator Byrd, a former KKK member with a history of opposing civil rights legislation. But hey, Byrd said it was all a mistake and renounced racism later. Can't see any possible career motivations there. After all, the guy was still in politics half a century later...and he shares a birthday with Biden...so why not sing his praises? Nothing to lose in terms of popularity at this point. Kamala's either.
What else...well, there have been some shady orders coming from Biden's corner, like throwing a vaccine mandate out there after admitting it was unconstitutional to do so (and after lambasting the vaccine itself as developed by Trump, then enthusiastically adopting it while making it political that Republicans supposedly didn't). The really shady part was that the mandate only applied to government contractors and businesses with 100 employees or more - rather unscientific, I think. But Joe had already "lost patience" with the vaccine-hesitant deplorables working at firms of 99 people or less.
While most people would agree that the US withdrawal operation from Afghanistan was less than elegant, Biden labeled the Kabul evacuation an "extraordinary success". He has also promised that inflation, which he blames on COVID (not the COVID response, just the economy-targeting virus) will soon be on the wane once the Build Back Better Act is passed, despite credible critics who say that the unrestrained printing of money only contributes to the problem. And he's committed to embracing the 'woke' ideology, a political strategy that has arguably led to even more divisiveness than we saw under the days of Trump.
The sad truth about narcissism and politics
Despite all these fails - which could easily be chalked up to incompetence rather than malevolence - the sad truth is that this is nothing new. Leading a country is similar to leading a company except with much higher stakes, and we already know that becoming a CEO may be easier if you're a narcissist. Our current political system is not exactly designed for the humble, the wise, or the incorruptible to flourish; for one thing, those who reach the top tend to need a lot of cash to get there, a situation that is amply exploited by powerful donors and industry lobbyists.
The saying goes that the best leaders are unlikely heroes who are too aware of their flaws and feel the weight of responsibility too keenly to really want to be in charge. They are forced, albeit reluctantly, to step forward out of necessity and a strong sense of duty to humanity. Think Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead - an excellent leader, he would probably never have run for political office. Unless we face a zombie apocalypse, I don't think much is going to change when it comes to the duplicity and hubris of our top politicians. Shepherding a country is a tough job: one well-suited to a narcissist, who defines himself by outward success and who can justify even the most harmful actions without sincere apology.
Until the next election... stay curious!