Is it a match made in heaven or hell? Most likely, this depends on your perspective. Either way, it is viewed, narcissism is well-rewarded in politics and the political environment seems to like narcissists. That could not have been more evident in the past presidential election.
How does this happen? Well, there are several ways the two are an ideal match:
- Attention-seeking. By nature, narcissists are constantly seeking a platform from which to garnish attention. Politicians need attention from voters and the media in order to win elections. The two combined together create a symbiotic relationship of attention-seeking behavior.
- A desire for power. Narcissists love to be in control or in positions of power and influence. Politics is the ultimate power play as just rising to the top indicates a large amount of support. Having a title of authority validates the narcissist’s success and feeds their ego.
- Superior thinking. Narcissists believe they are superior and therefore can accomplish more than other people. This mentality is useful in the political arena because it allows the politician to elevate themselves about their opponents without question.
- Taking advantage of others. Politics is a series of winners and losers. Frequently, one group or sect of a population is shortchanged for another whether intentional or not. Narcissists have no issue with taking advantage of others, especially for their own benefit or success.
- Lack of remorse. One of the telltale indicators of narcissism is an inability to apologize even in the face of evidence of wrongdoing. There is a long list of politicians who have blamed others for things they did wrong even after they have been caught. A lack of remorse keeps the politician believing they are right.
- Grandiose future fantasy. Casting an ideal vision for the future is an essential element of winning an election. Narcissists have an active fantasy life. They imagine themselves at the top of the food chain and everything running smoothly now that they are in charge.
- Charming personality. A politician has to be charming with a variety of groups of people in order to be elected. By nature, a narcissist can turn on the charm whenever it is needed to get attention, to increase influence, or even to take advantage of others.
- Bragging about achievements. In order to get elected, politicians have to brag about who they are and what they have accomplished, even when their successes are not real or cannot be entirely attributed to them. Exaggerated truthtelling is a classic sign of narcissism.
- Lacks empathy. Politicians frequently fake empathy for a short period of time to gather votes from a particular population. The lack of real empathy allows a politician to make decisions without any personal regard for others. This is very narcissistic.
So whether narcissism and politics is a match made in heaven or hell really depends on your point of view. Either way, the two are part of a dysfunctional co-dependent relationship.