Psychotherapist Michael Bader, in Let's Ditch the Media and Establishment's Cynicism and Go After Wha..., shows how US politics exudes pathological cynicism.
When the need for meaning and purpose is suppressed or inhibited, we feel cynical. For the cynic, current reality comes to seem hard-wired into the fabric of the universe and of human nature. Rather than challenge the limits that reality is presumed to impose, the cynical solution lies in lowering expectations...
But because of its negative connotations, cynics invariably deny that they have this affliction. Instead, they claim that they are simply being realistic. For example, the belief that everyone is out for himself is a cynical belief. So is the belief that the political and economic system is inevitably rigged to favor the rich and powerful. It’s not that these observations are inaccurate or that objective reality doesn’t routinely confirm them. It’s that they’re incomplete. Yes, people in our culture are selfish, and yes, the system is rigged against ordinary people. But these facts, while real, are not inevitable. They are subject to change. They were created and can therefore be modified by human intentions.
Cynicism doesn’t just remind us that there are limitations in the real world; it fetishizes them, makes them into enduring things that stand apart from and opposed to us. Denying the reality that we can influence the way things are, cynicism constantly cautions us to play it safe and lower our expectations.
Cynicism has corroded our political system in devastating ways. One manifestation is the low rate of voter registration and turnout.
The system most certainly is rigged but not completely, and when someone like Bernie Sanders comes along and talks about political revolution, political energies that are latent are awakened... [emphasis mine]
Our need for meaning and purpose, for a sense of significance, is expressed in our desire to be inspired, to transcend what is and believe in what could be.
The problem is that when we do awaken this longing, we put ourselves out on a limb because we risk being disappointed. We become vulnerable to being told we’re naïve, that we’re being duped into shooting too high. Being called naïve is especially shaming. It’s like being called weak, innocent or vulnerable. The cynic is insulated from these accusations. While the need for meaning and purpose remains universal, cynicism is equally ubiquitous because it helps defend us against painful accusations of appearing impractical (and thus foolish) and idealistic (and thus easily disappointed).
This isn’t an irrational fear. Time and again, liberals have had their hopes for something politically transcendent raised and then dashed. ... Bill Clinton ... Barack Obama ....
This is the psychological dynamic behind some of the current attacks on Bernie Sanders.
Politics is like a house of mirrors in which attempts to be authentic are filtered through the lens of cynicism and emerge on the other side as mere examples of posturing. I would argue that that is precisely what we are seeing in the spin around Sanders and his idealism. [emphasis mine]
... Sanders’ plainspoken manner, enthusiasm and passion about economic inequality momentarily breaks through ... and Washington insiders ... react defensively by cautioning us to be realistic, and above all else, to be ready ... to vote for the lesser of two evils. Having momentarily awakened us from our political sleep, Sanders inevitably triggers our cynical defenses.
... the narrative that seems to be evolving: Clinton is the realist; Sanders the idealist. Clinton is practical; Sanders’ goals are high-minded but impractical. Clinton knows how to “get things done,” while Sanders is indulging in wishful thinking. Clinton knows how to pay for things; Sanders is grandiose and his programs will bankrupt the nation.
Such a frame ... is ... fundamentally cynical and exemplifies the worst sensibility in contemporary politics. [emphasis mine]
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We know which media create cynicism and revel it most, don't we?
Man having a Rorschach test to his shrink: But doc, you're the one with all the dirty pictures.
...all experience has shown, that [hu]mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
Bernie has been telling us the train of abuses has gotten rather long, and so many small donors agree with him that he's raising more money than Hillary is raising from her large donors.
America's non-cynics are nearing the tipping point Jefferson described in the above lines from the Declaration of Independence.
At least he has a long unblemished record in regards to civil rights and climate change.