There are two extremely dangerous psychological conditions at play in Washington these days – truth be told they are always at play in DC – but most of the time they are generally kept in check, prevented from intersecting in dangerous quantities by common sense and an awareness of fallibility in enough people to mitigate such outbreaks. These days, and it appears to be a general cultural phenomenon, there is such a lack of self-awareness in the society that produces these people, we are approaching an epidemic outbreak of mass psychosis.
I am not a clinically trained psychologist or psychiatrist, certainly not one of the Yale educated Bandy X. Lee caliber, capable of diagnosing people from watching them on television, but I grew up in rural north Mississippi, where sitting on the front porch with your grandparents as they analyzed people as they passed by, and assigning highly accurate assessments of people, their personalities, and their conditions was a common event. Diagnoses were often simple, but deadly accurate, as in the words of my granddaddy about one particular member of our community (who attracted trouble like a human sized magnet) as his pickup passed by, “You don’t need to be a doctor to see that boy ain’t never been right in the head.”
Even a casual observer of Washington these days can make such diagnosis due to the observed behaviors of the DC denizens. As my granddaddy said, “you don’t need to be a doctor”.
I can see two psychological conditions prominently at play.
There is the so-called “God Complex”, a psychological illusion bordering on psychopathy, a personality flaw in human beings, especially those with great power, who perceive themselves to be omniscient and omnipotent, and treat others as mere mortals. People who have it exhibit an unshakable belief in their correctness and privilege, characterized by consistent inflated feelings of personal ability, infallibility.
While it is not classified as a diagnosable condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, I can pretty much guarantee if you have lived long enough, you have run across at least one person who meets the definition. This is a condition that is all too present in politicians, bureaucrats, celebrities, and doctors.
The second condition is the Dunning Kruger Effect, is a cognitive bias in which an unskilled person makes poor decisions and reaches erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence is of such as scale that it eliminates the ability for them to realize their own mistakes. The unskilled therefore suffer from an illusion of superiority, rating their ability as above average, far higher than it actually is. It also explains why, in the face of clear evidence that their decisions are wrong, they plod ahead while proclaiming their superiority.
A common statement when challenged is, “I can’t explain it to you because you just wouldn’t understand”, the implication being that you just are not smart enough to challenge them. People exhibiting the Dunning-Kruger effect are often highly self-confident, some to the point of boorish behavior, and often exhibit an “absolutist” attitude toward their actions…even in the face of clear failure. Essentially, it is the is the ability of the “elite” among us to continue to view themselves as brilliant and successful while everybody else knows they are screwing the pooch six ways from Sunday.
If one created a Venn diagram and included all the people who separately exhibit each of these conditions, the overlap would describe the contemporary Democrat Party, and if one limits the observed populations to Washington, D.C., the resulting circles would almost certainly be near perfectly concentric.
All of us have seen it and similar, less scientifically based notions have been expressed since time immemorial. Dunning and Kruger themselves quote Charles Darwin, “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”. Bertrand Russell (a British philosopher, logician, essayist, and social critic best known for his work in mathematical logic and analytic philosophy) said, “One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.” W.B. Yeats put it concisely thus: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.”
Now combine the two. Cross the proton streams, as it were.
Noted parapsychologist and Ghostbuster, Dr. Egon Spengler, described that situation thusly: “Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.”
Together, these psychological conditions provide a highly accurate definition of the “Woke Culture” and its adherents, the Woke-a-teers.
Of course, this condition is not specific to one political party, but one cannot tell me that this combination does not explain what has been going on in Washington, especially intensifying within the Democrat Party as its progressive membership increased since the 2008 election.
But again, I am no Yale educated Bandy X. Lee. I am just an imitation Foghorn Leghorn character, a redneck from rural Mississippi, a kid raised on enough purple hull peas and my grandmother’s cornbread to possess keen observational skills, an overabundance of common sense and the recognition that the only thing I do know for sure is that I do not know everything.