Imagine it’s Election Day. You walk into the voting booth.
Who are you going to vote for? Do you know how you came to that decision? Do you really know the person you may help put into office?
You may think you do. But it is highly unlikely!
You may think I mean it’s unlikely because so many candidates hide who they really are. Because so many put on a politically correct – or a supposedly politically correct – mask meant to do just that, hide themselves. Because so many candidates are the furthest thing from transparent. That’s part of why we keep discovering abuses of power by candidate after candidate, government official after government official.
But no, that’s not what I mean. I mean because . . . you may think you know e-x-a-c-t-l-y how you came to your decision, but that is more doubtful than you may imagine.
What if you have not been a particularly introspective person . . . and didn’t think that was necessary in relation to elections? What if you always thought you were introspective, but didn’t realize there is more introspection needed to be a truly good citizen, particularly in relation to elections? What if no matter how introspective you have been, you have so much more to understand about how our own unconscious can motivate us to make a choice – including a voting choice – or interfere with our making a healthy choice – including a voting choice?
Over the course of the coming weeks, I invite you to search within yourself to understand what is influencing your vote . . . beneath your awareness . . . to help you make the wisest, most conscious choice you can on election day.
Let me help you begin. Let’s look at an example of a major unconscious influence on your vote. What if when you were a child your father didn’t take care of your needs, but instead promised he would, and then just took care of his own. What if, without realizing it, you want the next president to take care of your needs – not from the adult place within you, but from the child still alive within you wanting a good daddy.
From a young place, you don’t even realize what you’re doing. You’re not even aware that you are going to vote for the “daddy you hope will take care of your needs.” Well, what if your own childhood pain seduces you into voting for the person who promises to take care of your needs and then breaks his promises and takes care of his own?
Did you ever think of that?
In my work, psychotherapy, this is called transference. It’s when you transfer onto a person, situation, or thing in the current day some person, experience, thoughts, feelings, attitudes, perceptions, senses you had with someone in the past . . . particularly an authority figure. It happens not only in the therapist’s office, but all through our lives, every day, often without our even knowing about it. It happens with spouses, partners, employers, employees, friends, neighbors, professionals we go to like doctors, accountants, lawyers. It even happens with our own children.
What if we elect the next president because most of us are in transference with him? We think we know who we’re voting for on Election Day, but we’re really voting for someone from our past that we have transferred onto our candidate. Or we’re really voting for the corrective or idealized antidote to someone in our past who treated us badly, and we’ve transferred the idealized daddy, for example, onto our candidate.
Without our being aware of what can influence our vote, we may elect someone because of our unconscious wounding. Without the understanding and the introspection to find out . . . instead of being truly responsible citizens, we could end up being automatons thinking we’re voting responsibly but not doing so at all.
And without doing the introspective work, the real soul searching to know what in you is causing you to vote for Joe Smith . . . you can so easily be manipulated to vote for someone you would otherwise, with consciousness, not vote for. So easily, so scarily manipulated. That kind of manipulation is done all the time, and in so many ways: by ads, by sound bites, by lies, by covering up the truth, by attacks, by endless chaos and confusion, by months and months and months of hype around the elections, not just by the candidates but by the media, too.
For example, in connection with the example above, what if you have been manipulated based exactly on your fear that the daddy won’t take care of your needs because your daddy didn’t when you were a child? What if the candidate leads you to believe, even promises you that in effect . . . he will fix things and soon, and he will be a good daddy and this time take care of you. Your pain and fear from childhood – the pain and fear that you may not even be aware of and certainly haven’t worked through – will set you up to be seduced to voting for this candidate.
Yes, I did say seduced.
And if you help elect that person, what will you experience when he doesn’t take care of your needs, but instead takes care of his own and the needs of his cronies? Will you realize that what you are feeling is once again the pain from daddy’s broken promises and your unmet needs? Or will you think it’s just a thing of today? And will you realize that because you weren’t aware of the connections, because you hadn’t worked to heal it, you co-created this repeat experience that doesn’t just affect you, but affects our whole country, even the whole world? Will you be able to take responsibility for not having been a fully responsible voter? A completely responsible citizen?
Or will you pooh-pooh it all, brush it all aside, dismiss it all . . . and just be angry at the new president’s broken promises. Or the government? Or politics?
We all have a part – a deeper part than we know, a deeper part than many of us are willing to know – in our political system, our government, our country, our world. We all have a part – more unconscious than we know – in how things are created and co-created in our world. We will all have a part – beyond what we’ve been taught – in what’s happening over the next two plus months of the campaign and in the election itself.
Will you take this in and become more responsible in finding what part you are now playing, what part you would play if you stay unaware, and what part you could play if you really explore your consciousness? On Election Day, will you truly be a responsible citizen? Or will your actions as a citizen have been manipulated by others and driven by your unresolved transference . . . not by the adult you, but rather by the child you once were long ago still alive within you, showing you she or he needs the help to heal?
© Judith Barr, 2012