Think Jung

Make Life a Mythic Journey

Betting on Barack?

OK.  I commented in my last blog on the Republican National Convention (see “Saving the Privatizing Paul Ryan”) so it’s only fair to offer a critique of the Democrats’ National Convention that ended last night with President Obama’s speech of acceptance of the nomination.

Here’s a comment I just posted on the New York Times website:

Bill Clinton made a terrific case for what is wrong with the Romney-Ryan ticket and platform. It was then up to President Obama to make the case for why he should be re-elected. As a disaffected, life-long, progressive Democrat, I waited in vain last night to hear how Mr. Obama would handle the economy–specifically the ongoing housing crisis. I heard nothing specific; the same criticism leveled at the Republicans. There is speculation that a “road map” will soon be offered. I would hope that is the case, but want some immediate action of the type Bill Clinton offered during his re-election campaign against Bob Dole. Mr. Obama has the power of the Presidency and he needs to use it now to lift the spirits of many demoralized Democrats and those who are undecided. He could start by firing Ed DeMarco as head of the Federal Housing Agency. After that Treasury Sec. Timothy Geithner, a Wall St. enabler and long-time opponent of regulating derivatives that led to the Great Recession should be forced to resign. We need to see “change we can believe in” and we need to see it now. America is hurting and Americans are frustrated and angry with their political leaders in both parties.

 Now what would Jung say about Mr. Obama?  While Vice President Joe Biden kept repeating that the President has a “spine of steel,” it only served to remind me and perhaps others that Mr. Obama has been a chronic compromiser with those who detest him and oppose any and everything he tries to do.  Not much spine, I think.  From a Jungian perspective, Mr. Obama suffers from the absence of the masculine energy that an absent father too often deprives his son of possessing.  It’s a variant of the father-complex, and in Mr. Obama’s case, as in that of president Clinton, it leads to extreme need for approval, cautious policy decision-making, and chronic compromising.

Immense national crises of the type we’ve recently experienced require strong leadership by psychologically strong people.  That has been missing.  Elizabeth warren noted the strong leadership provided by Teddy Roosevelt the last time America was about to be taken over by “malefactors of great wealth.”  Roosevelt passed the Sherman Antitrust Act to bust the corporate monopolies of the super-wealthy like John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil.  He instituted a national income tax to redistribute wealth and he established major food and drug regulation for the first time.  We desperately need Rooseveltian action now, but we need psychologically sound leaders.  For all his many remarkable qualities, Mr. Obama seems held back.  His signature achievement—health care reform—seems to be a debt paid to his late mother.

So, we are faced with a choice in leaders this fall, but psychologically we have men on both sides dealing with absent fathers.  One, Paul Ryan, seems angry and extra-punitive, that is hostile to others; and the other, Barack Obama, brings a cautious, but overly feminine, nurturing posture to the office.

Paul Marshall Wortman

September 7, 2012

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