Is American Democracy Mentally Ill?
Given that Americans have the most mental illness of any other people on the planet, does it make sense that our political system is mentally ill too?
Americans suffer from mental disorders more than anyone else in the world. The list of mental illnesses is almost as long as the list of our chronic diseases. Americans suffer from schizophrenia, paranoia, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, depression, dysthymia; anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, agoraphobia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD); substance abuse; and impulse control disorders like attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. On top of all that, Americans suffer alarming rates of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Given this environment of pervasive mindbody sickness that puts stress on relationships, it’s not surprising that divorce rates are also on the rise in the United States. Among U.S. adults ages 50 and older, the divorce rate has roughly doubled since the 1990s. Apparently, the vow to love and cherish in sickness and in health is getting more and more challenging for couples.
Why should the situation be any different when it comes to our politics? Our family system is ailing. Our health care system is chronically ill. So why should we be surprised that our political body is sick too? America is going off the deep end. And the world is watching in disbelief.
If anyone still thinks President Trump is mentally balanced, the not-too-distant memory of Ronald Reagan should remind them that it’s entirely possible for a man with beginning stages of Alzheimer’s—a man without the full capacity of his neurological function—to be President of the United States of America.
It’s happened before, and it’s happening now. Both presidents had popular backing. Which also says something about the mental health of the American people who elected these men to office.
I’m not being rhetorical here, implying that if you voted for Trump you are mentally unwell. Far from it. I’m talking about something more serious and insidious. One symptom of America’s chronic political illness was the fact that Americans for the most part couldn’t discern that President Reagan had early stages of Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a chronic disease; it doesn’t happen overnight. It happens for a long time before you get a diagnosis—years and even decades. And I’m talking about the fact that it didn’t seem to matter, as far as being President mattered in our political system.
The same way we’ve lost our ability to see the signs of our own illnesses before they become critical (and rely on doctors to deliver a diagnosis instead), President Trump is the symptom of a chronic condition we have lived with for a long time. I’m talking about the inability to not only think and act rationally, but to discern reality itself in order to act in an adaptive way rather than a maladaptive one. I’m talking about the ability to see the Truth when it is staring you in the face. I’m talking about the ability to discern a tiger face staring at you in the forest from a faery face. One of those situations is quite dire, and the sooner you recognize it for what it is, the better your chances of surviving it.
When it comes to chronic illness, avoiding and delaying the inevitable healing crisis doesn’t help. It only makes things worse. President Trump, unlike Reagan, is a demagogue. A demagogue is a political leader who appeals to popular desires and prejudices rather than rational argument, making false claims and promises in order to gain power, while appearing to champion the cause of the common people. And like another famous demagogue, Adolf Hitler, President Trump understands how to use the media to garner power and confuse the public. Whereas Hitler took to radio like a fish to water to broadcast his insane ideas to the masses, Trump uses Twitter and TV to tweet and broadcast his crazy ideas into a right-wing populist movement that’s headed for mass destruction.
What can sane Americans do about it? Stay sane and speak up. And address the root of the problem.
The problem isn’t just that Americans have a crazy president. The problem is that Americans are losing their grip on reality as they become more and more mentally and physically ill. There’s only one fix to that problem. And that’s to culture more mental and physical health and wellbeing. Starting with your Self. And starting with better Care of the Self—from your emotions to your ethics to your physical body to your political body.
The writing is on the wall. The question is whether you can read it or not, and how quickly you can adapt. Visit The Healist's Self-Care Lists to access resources to improve your sustainability as a human. Learn how to clean up your act, from your food and water to the toxic mercury fillings in your teeth to the toxic crap in your liver and colon, to the thoughts in your head. Then get to work. As Americans, we are starting at Ground Zero, again.
This time maybe we can admit that the problem is within us, not without. Our problem is not in Iraq or Afghanistan or North Korea. Our problem is right here at home in the United States of America. And it’s a doozy. A new generation of nuclear weapons and power plants won’t save us. A wall won’t save us. Drones, killer robots and lethal autonomous weapons won’t save us. Closing our borders won’t save us. Pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord won’t save us. More fracking and oil pipelines won’t save us. Killing bear cubs and wolf pups in their dens in Alaska won’t save us. And certainly, the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis won’t save us.
The only thing that will save us is to make America healthy again.
To do that, we’d have to empower citizens over corporations and value public health and wellbeing over health insurance profits. We’d have to, on our own, see the wisdom of not polluting national parks, oceans and ourselves with plastic water bottles. We’d have to quit thinking that antibiotics and vaccines can replace natural immunity. We’d have to learn to farm again without pesticides and herbicides. We’d have to become clean water stewards, and love and cherish Mother Earth as if our lives depended on it. And we’d have to finally ban the practice of putting neurotoxic mercury amalgam fillings in Americans’ teeth, including Trump’s.
And last but not least, we’d have to stop gaming democracy like it’s a video game or reality TV show or hedge fund short sale. It isn’t. American democracy is a fragile political system of delicate checks and balances that has to be practiced in good faith. It can’t be bullied. It can’t be hedged. And it can’t be lied to and manipulated with greenwashed marketing campaigns and another about-to-burst bubble and banking scandal. In other words, it can’t be insane—lost in paranoid fantasies, demented illusions, megalomaniacal narcissism, manic aggrandizements and schizoid breaks with reality.
Because democracy only works if it’s real. And to make it real, more Americans need to be well—mentally, physically, emotionally and psycho-spiritually. Because they’re all connected.