Exceptionalism, Arrogance, & American Narcissism


Image = democrat_donkey_11If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if no social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the way” Pericles

Do the Hunts, who are textbook narcissists, think they are so entitled that they are above the law?  I think there is good indication that they do.  Strange enough, if so, it does not make them unusual in the grand scheme of this world.  There are some who think their situation is because they are liberal, but, when one starts looking at the sense of entitlement on the right, it doesn’t work.  In fact, that’s the real problem here – the American Sense of Entitlement and Exceptionalism.

“…That’s right. “American exceptionalism” is pure fiction today, even if there might have been a bit of truth when Alexis de Tocqueville dreamed up the concept in the early 19th century. His idea — that America was somehow different and better than any other country ever before — led to the imperial idea of Manifest Destiny and gave generations of Americans the dangerous fairy tale that they were superior to everyone else. (It’s interesting to note that the phrase “American exceptionalism” was coined by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin as a derisive term.)…”

What if this vaunted, mythical determination that we Americans are more special and have a greater sense of just who we are, and have a narcissistic view of ‘excellence’ is to blame for not only the way Steve Hunt and his lovely ex wife Kelley Hunt Smith see the world, but how many of us do, and don’t realize it.

“...The myth of Satan applies to both Rand and Marx, who were much alike in character. Both were envious, rage-filled haters who wished to see the world destroyed; both believed in an earthly Utopia; both had philosophies that weren’t much more than expressions of their characters; and both distorted every fact they could get their hands on, because they thought, in their grandiose infantile omnipotence, they could change reality to suit their views. This is what psychologists refer to as “magical thinking.”

More correctly, narcissists cannot differentiate their thoughts and feelings from reality outside. They unconsciously believe what they think and feel is how external reality truly is. If you ask them if what they feel is coming from the inside of them, or from the outside, they often don’t know. This is why Rand believed that any philosopher who disagreed with her, or said something she didn’t understand, must have been either evil or intellectually dishonest; she, having solved all philosophical problems in the world, of course was not the source of conflict: those who disagreed with her were, so she scapegoated them. Hence her bizarre hatred for Kant as “the most evil man who ever lived.”…”

Recently Russian President Vladimir Putin knew just how to tweak, annoy, and thumb his nose while sticking out his tongue at America.  He dared to say that we were just not ‘all that’.   Unfortunately, the zinger hit home.  This is NOT a discussion about foreign policy, Barack Obama, Syria, or Vladimir Putin.  It is a discussion about how abjectly narcissistic we have become.

“…My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal….”

There are so darn many ways that we Americans are amazing people. But, when we factor that growing sense of Glenn Beck narcissism, that we are ‘all that’, then we lose it.  Our remarkable nature is because of our humility (if that is possible).  It is in our willingness to reach out to those who are hurting.  We are first to give money, world-wide when people are hurting.   We live for charity.  Humility is what makes greatness in this way, not a sense of ‘exceptionalism’.

Today’s libertarian demands for exceptionalism are what is undermining the greatness of this nation.  When you strip away our charity, our giving, and our compassion for those who need help, for our unique understanding of love, kindness, and compassion, then everything that is exceptional about this nation is being destroyed.  As I wrote the other day, this sense of entitlement, of not following the rules, is uniquely libertarian.  The irony is the very nature of the Ayn Rand culture is encouraging it.

“…“A sense of entitlement is a cancerous thought process that is void of gratitude and can be deadly to relationships, businesses, and even nations.” …”  Steve Maraboli

Once upon a time, this nation held the philosophy that no one was any better than the other.  We were all allegedly equal, in opportunity and in the eyes of the law.  There is a very good reason the statues of justice wear blindfolds.  Justice is blind – or it should be.  It is called equality before the law.  In fact, the founders of this nation thought it so important, they based our very founding on it.

“…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;…”

Not exceptional – but equal.  Exceptionalism is narcissism at its best. It doesn’t matter if it is about two parents trying to prove their little darling is perfect, and thumbing their nose at the law, or a young libertarian saying that he doesn’t need to follow the rules because he is libertarian.  It is narcissism at its best.

“...Narcissism means having an inflated or grandiose sense of self. A narcissist thinks she is special, unique, and entitled to better treatment than others. Narcissists aren’t particularly interested in warmth and caring in their relationships. They might enjoy being around people — and certainly can be charming, flattering, exciting and likable — but they are in relationships for their own narcissistic needs. Narcissists also spend a good deal of their time and energy doing things to make themselves look and feel good and pumping up their egos. A narcissist might brag, turn all conversations back to himself, try to associate only with important people, want to have the best and newest of everything, or steal credit from others. When things don’t go his way, the narcissist might get angry or even violent. Narcissists can be fun to be around in the short term, but awful to work for or be in a close relationship with in the long term.

Much of the research we discuss in the book measures narcissism as a personality trait – some people are higher in narcissistic traits than others. There is no agreed-upon “cut-off” for narcissism, so when we use the term “narcissist” we mean someone who is very narcissistic — just like an “extravert” is someone who is very extraverted. There is no absolute point where someone crosses the line from normal to narcissistic.

There is a cut-off, however, for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), the clinical disorder that includes high levels of narcissism. Someone with NPD has at least 5 of 9 documented narcissistic traits that occur over an extended period of time and cause significant problems for the person or others. Only a trained professional can make a clinical diagnosis of NPD…”

What is truly amusing is the fact that the far libertarian right is suffering from Ayn Rand disease.  The brutal and bitter irony is that Rand was something of a leftist.  It all makes sense.  In discussing Rand, it brings us full circle back to the Hunts.

“...I read two books that had a profound influence on me: Richard’s Restak’s The Self Seekers, and M. Scott Peck’s The People of the Lie. Both books are about narcissism. Restak’s is more technical; Peck’s is written more for a lay audience.

Peck also introduced me to the concept of “scapegoating”: thinking yourself good, so you have to project your badness onto others. This is what all narcissists do. Indeed, it’s what everyone wants to do, since we’re all narcissistic in some degree, however slight.

Peck considered scapegoating to be the source of human evil. I do, too. In The People of the Lie, he writes that scapegoating is involved in “the genesis of human evil…[it] works through a mechanism psychiatrists call projection…[people] project evil onto the world.”

It sounds far too simple, but Peck is right: the main cause of human evil in history is scapegoating. In this century, the two best-known narcissistic, scapegoating ideologies have been Nazism and Marxism. The death toll: possibly 200 million people.

Narcissism is a character (or personality) disorder, i.e., a disorder of responsibility. Character disorders blame their problems on other people: it’s not my fault, they claim; it’s my parents’, or society’s, or [fill-in-the-blank].

A neurotic, taking too much reponsibility, feels too much guilt; a character disorder, not taking enough responsibility, doesn’t feel enough guilt. A joke about this is that dogs are neurotic because they always think it’s their fault; cats are character disorders because they always think it’s your fault….”

This really isn’t a political rant.  It is a rant coming from someone who is attempting to understand why a group of people have decided that they are above the law.  One thing that fascinates me is the comment that the behavior of Steve Hunt and Kelley Hunt Smith echoes the liberal mind-set, of anything goes.  One of my favorite political theories is that when the left goes so far left, it becomes right, and when the right goes so far right, it goes left.  Because of Ayn Rand, the far right has gone left.  It’s that simple.  Rand was the text-book narcissist.  Rules did not apply to her.

I know that it is a stretch to cycle back around to the truly reprehensible behavior of Steve Hunt and Kelley Hunt Smith, along with their lovely pedophile daughter, Kaitlyn, but it’s there.  One reason I’m so disgusted and disillusioned with the GOP is the fact that, since being assimilated into the libertarian worship of Ayn Rand, as their new messianic symbol, certain rules of behavior have fallen by the wayside. The GOP was once a bastion of manners, and basic decency.  We did what was right, self-rightiously proving that we held ourselves to a higher standard.  We were to be looked upon as an example of what was good, positive, and wholesome. Not any more.

Now that the GOP has become radically libertarian, with Ayn Rand’s social skills, there is a sense of narcissistic entitlement, like rules don’t apply to me.  I’m better than you are.  I’m prettier than you are, and by golly, if I want to scam my way to the top, and make a pile of money doing it, well, there are now no rules.

Oh, heck, don’t just blame this on Ayn Rand, though she plays a major role in our decline.  This is what our ‘me first’ culture has wrought. Thanks to the real housewives of the back-forty trailer park, or hunting bigfoot in the neighborhood, or Honey Boo Boo Unplugged, the Hunts apparently picture themselves as the stars of their own reality show, complete with celebs, no rules, just endless cameras and adoration.

If they weren’t so trashy and were not harassing and threatening anyone who is trying to expose their scam and their nastiness, it wouldn’t matter much.  But, they are doing some very nasty things.  They are the end result of our new national narcissism, our entitlement mentality of excellence and exceptionalism.   They now think they are better than their little pedophile darling’s victim and her family.  They are exceptional, true Americans, pursuing their own agenda, no matter who it hurts and destroys.

Unfortunately, in a way, we are all to blame.  Unfortunately, Vladimir Putin is right. During the 1960s the image of America, in Europe was that of the Ugly American, the tacky, trashy, rude, ignorant, and nasty tourist. When people are continually told they are better than everyone else, and don’t realize they aren’t all that, we end up with Steve Hunt, Kelley Smith Hunt, and dear little Kaitlyn.

Don’t look for things to improve any time soon.