Seekers of elected office require three things, listed in the order of their acquisition; first notoriety, second wealth and finally power. Like the game rock-paper-scissors, varying combinations yield winners and losers. However, unlike the game, when politics are plied just so, the process can be rigged and rock not only breaks scissors but hurls through paper as well.
All politicians must embrace notoriety to attract voters. This necessity practically eliminates meek, shy introverts from even considering participating. Ironically, according to extensive research by Adam Grant, Susan Cain and others, introverts make great leaders, unfortunately excluding about half of the population from the process.
Physical attractiveness also plays a large role in political reality, described as the “Halo Effect” by researcher Edward Thorndike. While “attractiveness” is arbitrary, most social polls indicate that only between 10% and 25% of the population are considered attractive. When candidate selection narrows choices by these two areas along, it eliminates approximately 90% of the populous from seeking political office.
When political candidates begin with notoriety and wealth, the singular remaining goal is power. Bush, Clinton, and Trump exemplify this in today’s political landscape with plenty of both, yet the lust for even more is over-arching. Nine of the top 10 presidential hopefuls are, (according to USA-Today) each worth well over 1 million dollars on the low side, (Rand Paul at $1.3 million,) and perhaps as much as $10 billion on the high side, (Donald Trump.) The office of the United States presidency is an all-consuming
24-7 job that pays $400,000.00 a year, a considerable pay cut for more than half the candidates.
With power the only un-realized objective, the lust for it explains why President Obama and others in positions of political influence are so upset by issues dealing with firearms. Even when supposedly possessing all of the perceived power they believe that they have, shootings expose just how powerless they are over human behaviors. Because these incidents showcase their actual weakness, they lash out at those objects that they can control, (in this example firearms,) and ignore that which they cannot change, human behaviors. Anything that challenges their illusion of power will incite their wrath because it undermines theirs and the public’s perception of leaders as omnipotent; a modern version of the emperor has no cloths.
Thousands of federal, state and local laws impose severe restrictions on firearms. The lawful obey, criminals and the mentally deranged do not. Existing laws are seldom fully enforced and the harshest penalties are rarely ever imposed on criminals.
The nerve being pinched in the gun debate has less to do with firearms and more to do with the fragile egos of powerful, political control freaks being exposed as flaccid when it comes to controlling everything and everybody all of the time.
Somewhere in that majority-of-the-population sea of introverted, average looking citizens are likely better candidates more earnestly focused on societal advancement and less obsessed with power and control. Perhaps our biggest challenge to change is in the mirror.