Here are 4 Reasons Why We Keep Electing Narcissists
There’s a big incentive for people to enter the halls of the US congress. To begin with, you’ll earn some serious bank when you run with big dogs like that.
This is not my opinion; around 50% of them are millionaires, yet only about 1% of everyone else has reached that prosperous level¹. There has to be a reason for this blatant disparity — it’s not a coincidence.
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Sadly, prosperity is not enough for our congressional leaders — wealth is not their holy grail — they seek power and control². Because that’s what narcissists do.
The real question is, why do we keep putting them in office?
Why do we let them decide whether to give us a raise or themselves? Care to guess which one they will choose?
Not sure of their narcissism?
A narcissist is a person who believes they are entitled and exude arrogance in this belief. Ever watched a politician react to statements from the press that question their authority or motives? In most cases, their response can be added to the highlight reel for narcissism.
Their political party does not matter — the number of narcissists is prominent on both sides of the isle — and every other party. Those who choose to be independent are probably even worse.
Why do narcissists become politicians?
As you might imagine, leadership is a very complex topic from a psychological perspective³. But there are two phases of leadership. The first is what psychologists call leadership emergence, which describes how someone rises to power. The second phase is leadership effectiveness, which is what they do with this power.
Phase one of leadership is a dream path for a narcissist. Most of them have mastered confidence and charisma because it suits their needs quite well.
However, becoming an effective leader may not be as tailor-made for them. Once a person rises to power and gains trust, it’s never a guarantee that they will be good leaders. This is why they tend to seek other people who can manage their affairs for them.
Four reasons we keep electing narcissists
Okay, now that we understand a little about narcissism and why a narcissist might seek out a political office, let’s find out why we keep putting them in power.
Political systems favor loud, narcissistic people over those who are quiet and effective
Let’s face it. Politics can be very emotional — and that’s by design. When we get outraged by an event, we turn to our political leaders. And because no one hears our outrage, those leaders become outraged for us — they vicariously soothe our souls.
So it becomes a benefit in politics to be loud and narcissistic because that’s what people believe they need. Yet often, the quiet person on the corner of the stage has the best solution, but we flock to the loud one.
People love leaders who promise stability during troubling times
One common trait among narcissists is that their lives are typically full of drama. Instinctively, they have learned that chaos and instability give them the ability to control others. How? By promising a solution and a better tomorrow out of these troubling times.
This approach is disturbing for two reasons. The first is that it incentivizes the act of purposely stirring up chaos for political gain.
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The second reason is much worse — and should scare the hell out of all of everybody. This is how evil dictators throughout human history have gained power and control. Adolph Hitler is a prime example. Never forget that chaos and vulnerability run hand in hand — and always will.
Narcissistic leaders repeat over and over again what you want to hear
Joseph Goebbels, who was the public relations expert for Germany’s Nazi party, taught us the powerful law of propaganda⁴: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually believe it.”
What makes this method work so effectively is that somewhere in the future, we catch ourselves saying, “I’ve heard that before, so it must be true.”
Our narcissistic political leaders live by this Goebbels adage. But they take it a step further — they keep repeating what you want to hear — which makes it much more powerful.
We love seeking out information that we want to hear. Don’t believe me? Ever noticed which media source you focus on during election season? Admit it — we all do it because we seek confirmation of our political positions.
We’ve become accustomed and comfortable with their presence
There’s a reason why incumbents have a distinct advantage during elections. Generally speaking, we are more comfortable with them because we know what they will bring — yes, there are exceptions.
It’s the people we don’t know that creates uncertainty, and we humans don’t like uncertainty.
The narcissist leader understands this unwritten rule. They know the importance of branding themselves and letting others associate them with positions of leadership.
Many of them get the ball rolling early in their lives by jumping on self-elected leadership positions within their local community. They plant that visual seed in the minds of their future constituents.
More and more people recognize them as leaders, and they continue expanding the bubble into more prominent positions — until they reach the US congress.
: Amy Sherman. (January 27, 2020). How many in Congress are millionaires? https://www.thetimesnews.com/story/news/politics/2020/01/27/how-many-in-congress-are-millionaires/112155506/.
: Sarah C. Newcomb Ph.D. (January 13, 2017). Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness, but Power Might. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/loaded/201701/money-doesn-t-buy-happiness-power-might.
: W. Keith Campbell Ph.D., Carolyn Crist. (October 6, 2020). How Narcissism and Leadership Go Hand-in-Hand. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/new-science-narcissism/202010/how-narcissism-and-leadership-go-hand-in-hand.
: Tom Stafford. (October 26, 2016). How liars create the ‘illusion of truth’. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20161026-how-liars-create-the-illusion-of-truth.