Deepak Chopra on Barack Obama & Sarah Palin

From: Deepak Chopra | Posted: Friday, September 5th, 2008
Sometimes politics has the uncanny effect of mirroring the national psyche
even when nobody intended to do that. This is perfectly illustrated by the
rousing effect that
Gov. Sarah Palin had on the Republican convention in
Minneapolis this week. On the surface, she outdoes former Vice President Dan
Quayle as an unlikely choice, given her negligent parochial expertise in the
complex affairs of governing. Her state of Alaska has less than 700,000
residents, which reduces the job of governor to the scale of running one-tenth
of New York City. By comparison,
Rudy Giuliani is a towering international
figure. Palin’s pluck has been admired, and her forthrightness, but her real
appeal goes deeper.
She is the reverse of
Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his
idealism and exhorting people to obey their worst imp ulses. In psychological
terms the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering
our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities we are ashamed to face:
anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of “the
other.” For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings, but they
don’t want to express them. He is calling for us to reach for our higher
selves, and frankly, that stirs up hidden reactions of an unsavory kind. (Just
to be perfectly clear, I am not making a verbal play out of the fact that
Obama is black. The shadow is a metaphor widely in use before his arrival on the
I recognize that psychological analysis of politics is usually not welcome by
the public, but I believe such a perspective can be helpful here to understand
Palin’s message. In her acceptance speech Gov. Palin sent a rousing call to
those who want to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision.
 Look at what she stands for:
 –Small town values — a denial of America’s global role, a return to
petty, small-minded parochialism.
 –Ignorance of world affairs — a repudiation of the need to repair
America’s image abroad.
Family values — a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for
social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don’t need to be
 –Rigid stands on guns and abortion — a scornful repudiation that these
issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.
 –Patriotism — the usual fallback in a failed war.
 –“Reform” — an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out
corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn’t
fit your ideology.
 Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been
in play since 198 0, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and
immigrants, being different from “us” pure American types, can be
ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign
threat. The radical right marches under the banners of “I’m all right,
Jack,” and “Why change? Everything’s OK as it is.” The irony,
of course, is that Gov. Palin is a woman and a reactionary at the same time. She
can add mom to apple pie on her resume, while blithely reversing forty years of
feminist progress. The irony is superficial; there are millions of women who
stand on the side of conservatism, however obviously they are voting against
their own good.
The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising
shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and
 Obama’s call for higher ideals in politics can’t be seen in a vacuum.
The shadow is real; it was bound to respond. Not just conservatives possess a
shadow — we all do. So what comes next is a contest between the two forces of
progress and inertia. Will the shadow win again, or has its furtive appeal
become exhausted? No one can predict. The best thing about Gov. Palin is that
she brought this conflict to light, which makes the upcoming debate honest. It
would be a shame to elect another Reagan, whose smiling persona was a stalking
horse for the reactionary forces that have brought us to the demoralized state
we are in. We deserve to see what we are getting, without disguise.




5 Responses to Deepak Chopra on Barack Obama & Sarah Palin

  1. Nc says:

    Thank you for posting Deepak Chopra’s insights. For many of us, it is stunning to experience what appears to be unabashed hatred and walls of unrelenting “I am right” – even to the point of denying what is in our own Constitutional process – from “fellow Americans”. Shadow for sure, unwelcomed, and frankly, leaves one to simply “not attend” to what they have to say – rather hold to that wonderful Biblical verse, “You shall know the Truth and the Truth can set you free.” We do need to see what we are getting into – without disguise (as per Chopra) – shadow or no. This is no time to get caught up in a collective maze of “the deep unresolved issues of our own psyches”.


  2. rr says:

    I’ve always wondered why we Americans are gullible on these approaches. This helps to understand.

    How do we help defeat the “shadow” Chopra refers to – especiall in those key states: OH, PA, MI, FL, WI, CO, NV?


  3. Irene says:

    In reponse to rr Says, 9-12-08:
    We defeat the “shadow” in the key states listed by TAKING action, engaging in the conversatios and eleminating the old adage of avoiding conversastions about those verboten subjects … politics being one of them.


  4. Kevin says:

    Obama has in the last fews weeks since the conventions proven himself a politician in every sense. Mugslinging. Overly ambitious. Negative ads. He is not an enlightened being by any stretch. He is openly calling for war in Afganistan and the head of Bin Laden. Not so much a man of peace, Martin Luther King figure after all. That being said, he is the better choice. But oh what a mess he has to clean up.


  5. Leilani says:

    I went to college in the most liberal years. Much more “liberal” than now. I got my share of communist propaganda. What happened to me has happened to many. We became depressed on our college campuses. The hate against the establishment was real. The socialist professors pound it into your head.

    Now, life is good. We have worked and worked and lived “normally”. Now, Deepak Chopra, we notice and other immigrants want to tell us what is wrong with small-town mentality. I have to tell you that I am half-Asian. One half is Caucasian. I have relatives in small towns. I resent them being described as having a small-town mentality. For god’s sake – a small town Caucasian man married my mother!

    You have got more enemies than you think. That is because you have not studied the Holt Adoption Agency, Christian groups that support millions of children overseas, the “small-town” Japanese who settled in Hood River, Oregon, etc.

    Frankly, I have spent years supporting the Democratic Party only to realize the likes of Reverend Wright – a flaming racist if ever I have seen one – is preaching hate to generations of blacks.

    No, your party is not ENLIGHTENED. Your party is just plain dumb.


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