Narcissists have a grandiose sense of self, believe in their own special uniqueness, require excessive admiration, imagine that they are entitled to whatever they desire, are arrogant, haughty and lack basic sensitivity to others. And more than ever it seems that narcissism has become the hallmark of our times. It seems the more we learn the less enlightened we are and the more entitled society becomes. This narcissistic view of the world often leads to conflicted relationships, doing things the wrong way and taking positions that are self-destructive.
All people are biased in one form or another but the worst biases can be found among narcissists. Narcissists are extremely biased to themselves. Few who are narcissistic see their own prejudices and fewer still are willing to hear a perspective that is different from their own. Self-righteousness such as this is invariably linked to confirmation bias, the tendency to interpret information as confirming one’s own preconceptions. And, narcissism is an extreme form of this type of self-validation.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion but not everyone is right. When you link narcissism, confirmation bias and politics you end up with Bernie Sanders.
It is clear that Bernie Sanders’ appeal is to the younger generation, mostly college educated. These individuals are, according to Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell, two psychologists who have studied narcissism extensively, the most egotistical, conceited and self-important of all generations. They are a generation of the “trigger warnings” and “micro aggressions”, “safe spaces” and campus speaker disruptions. They speak glowingly of justice but cannot see that her scales are two sided and must be balanced. They want what they want and do not care about repercussions, consequences or cost. It doesn’t even matter if you present them with a boatload of facts to counter their views – they suffer from confirmation bias and twist facts to fit their distortions.
There are two primary reasons given for this extreme self-aggrandizement. As a generation, they are the most overindulged by their parents. Over protective parenting is often implicated in the development of self-valuing in the extreme. If you are raised to believe that you are the smartest, wealthiest and most talented it is not too long a leap to actually demanding it from the world.
The other cause for the lack of willingness to see beyond their own biases has a great deal to do with how they are educated, mostly in college. Several studies have found that over 60% of college professors align themselves with liberal or very liberal views. Less than about 10% of college professors are aligned conservative. In this learning environment Lady Justice has but one arm on her balance scale, there are no checks or balances in this sort of learning environment. Because there are so many liberal professors there is virtually no one to present a different view. If there is no competing narrative than learning is coerced, twisted into a rigid, lock step unquestioning acceptance of that world view.
Michael Shermer, no conservative, wrote of this danger in a column in Scientific American. He quotes John Stuart Mills ‘On Liberty, “He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that.”
Which brings me back to Bernie Sanders. A fair amount of what he said to the Daily News may have been taken out of context still it does not negate his position, gleaned from other sources, which indicate his vast ambivalence, even negativity, toward his religion of birth, implicit support of BDS, and pandering to a generation of narcissists.
I would love free college tuition, truly free health care and anything else that is free but I know that “free” is a non-entity – someone has to pay. I know that monopolies have the potential to be dangerous but aside from saying that he will break up the big banks where is his balanced plan? As a US Senator he should have a significantly better understanding of International affairs than he seems to display. Is that too because he is pandering to a bias, the bias that we have no responsibility to others, or only to select others? Sanders decries how those running for the Presidency have received funds from large donors. True, much of his funding comes from individuals who donate relatively small amounts but a recent review suggests that he too has some very large donors, among them left leaning unions.
Politics is a dirty game. Many of those who aspire to higher offices are narcissistic in their drives. But, pandering to an entire generation of the self-indulged leads to a dangerous cliff. If Sanders wins his party’s nomination an entire country can fall.
Behind the blindfold there are tears of fear streaming down Lady Liberty face.