Friday, May 9, 2008

Left-brainers in politics

It goes without saying that political campaigns favor outgoing empathizers. Less obvious is whether they disfavor rule-loving systematizers. Susan Faludi's Op Ed in today's NYTimes suggests that indeed they do, at least here in America.

She contrasts two political types: 

Type 1:
[T]he umpire, who controls the game by application of the rules but who never gets hit. 
[T]he rules keeper, the purse-lipped killjoy who passes strait-laced judgment on feral boy fun.

Type 2:
[T]he participant, who has no rules except to hit hard, not complain, bounce back and endeavor to prevail in the end.
[T]he slugger who ignores the censors, the outrider who navigates the frontier without a chaperone.

Guess which type tends to win elections?

According to Faludi, so damning is type 1 in American culture, and so strongly associated with negative feminine stereotypes, that opponents of strong female candidates have long and successfully branded them as such. Hilary Clinton is no exception. 

That is, Faludi argues, until Clinton's eleventh hour transformation: 

We are witnessing a female competitor delighting in the undomesticated fray. Her no-holds-barred pugnacity and gleeful perseverance have revamped her image in the eyes of begrudging white male voters, who previously saw her as the sanctioning "sivilizer," a political Aunt Polly whose goody-goody directives made them want to head for the hills.

If Faludi is right, then all the worse for those aspiring presidents, etc., who are both weak in empathy and strong in systematizing.  

Assuming, of course, that such left-brained political wannabes even exist.

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