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Did Nationwide Stockholm Syndrome Get President Obama Elected?

Politics

Nations make decisions based on psychological factors, just as individuals do. In the same way that a single traumatic event can shape the course of a man's life for decades, so too can a single traumatic event shape the course of a nation.

The election of Barack Hussein Obama, in my opinion, was a direct result of the trauma of 9/11. When the World Trade Center was destroyed, I believe Americans were shocked into behaving like children in a family subjected to sudden violence in the home. "We" figured it had to be our fault, somehow. We had brought it on ourselves, by not being "lovable," by being selfish, by being bullies. To think otherwise would mean we had enemies who were not only irrational killers, but able to destroy skyscrapers. That was too frightening for us. Because if our true and good nature was the very thing hated by the 9/11 terrorists, we would be locked in a life-and-death struggle. We preferred to believe that we could control the situation by becoming less hateful. That would make us safe.

We conspired to elect someone who would make us more palatable to those who had attacked us, as if that would protect us. And that man was Barack Hussein Obama.

Like passengers on a hijacked aircraft, who unconsciously adopt the ideas of their captors, in order to be less odious to them and less likely to be murdered (a condition known as Stockholm Syndrome), we adopted the hatred of America that had crystallized in the horror of 9/11.

I believe President Obama's credentials were essentially these:  He was not entirely Caucasian, hence his being our leader seemed to make us potentially less a focus of the rage of Muslim extremists (who are also generally people of color). He mirrored our own willingness to believe we were bad and deserved to have our buildings destroyed and our people killed. After all, his own pastor and the fellow who had christened his daughters had said the words, "God damn America!" His wife confessed she had never been proud of America.  He had fraternized with terrorists in the past like Bill Ayers, and seemed well-liked by them. He was campaigning on a theme of "change."

Seen this way, the questions raised about whether Barack Obama was even a real American citizen did not, in the minds of traumatized Americans, disqualify him from serving as President, but were (to our collective unconscious) one of his most compelling credentials.  If we were to elect someone to lead America who was not even perceived by some to be American by birth, wouldn't that be enough to convince our enemies we had reformed-- that we knew we were unlovable and fully intended to join the loving greater family of man?

President Obama delivered what so many Americans seemed to want:  A mea culpa to the world for our shortcomings and a pledge to reform. A living embodiment of our self-hatred. He went on an apology tour to foreign nations. He suggested we cede developing oil reserves to countries like Brazil. He cozied up to foreign dictators and bowed to princes. He moved the country away from capitalism, toward socialism.

The central psychological question of this presidential election is whether Americans are emerging from Stockholm Syndrome and are ready to reclaim their national self-esteem, despite the fact that our national character--loving freedom, celebrating autonomy and believing in the power of a free market economy--will indeed make Muslim extremists and foreign despots despise us.

A moment of epiphany is called for. A moment of psychological awakening. A throwing off of our national Stockholm Syndrome, in favor of national pride. It may be at hand, or it may be a bridge too far. We will know soon enough.

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