August 15, 2012

According to the American Psychological Society, there is a vast difference between personality and character.

Personality is easy to read, and we're all experts at it. We judge people funny, extroverted, energetic, optimistic, confident—as well as overly serious, lazy, negative, and shy—if not upon first meeting them, then shortly thereafter. And though we may need more than one interaction to confirm the presence of these sorts of traits, by the time we decide they are, in fact, present we've usually amassed enough data to justify our conclusions.

Character, on the other hand, takes far longer to puzzle out. It includes traits that reveal themselves only in specific—and often uncommon—circumstances, traits like honesty, virtue, and kindliness. Ironically, research has shown that personality traits are determined largely by heredity and are mostly immutable. The arguably more important traits of character, on the other hand, are more malleable—though, we should note, not without great effort. Character traits, as opposed to personality traits, are based on beliefs (e.g., that honesty and treating others well is important—or not), and though beliefs can be changed, it's far harder than most realize.

In a nutshell personality is the mask we wear to get through the day; character is that which eventually shows who we really are and that often can boil down to good or bad.

Traditional character manifests itself in all aspects of social life which eventually spills over into every category of life, from economics and politics to religion and ethics.

When applied to today's political scene, we are witnessing the true colors of character between Democrats and Republicans. In days past, such deliniations could hardly be made between the parties. Yet today, there is such a clear difference between the parties that character comes into play at the mear mention of the word "politics."

 The Republican vice-presidential candidate, Congressman Paul Ryan, is the Democrats' political version of the Anti-Christ. (That's assuming there are any Democrats who believe in the opposite, vix. "Christ".) He believes in self-reliance; the left believes in reliance on the state. His moral values are shaped by religion (Catholicism); the left is frightened by religion, indeed many are irreligious and detest Christian politicians (and athletes, and members of the armed forces, and talk show hosts, and, for that matter, clergy). He believes in individualism; the left believes in collectivism. He believes in small government and powerful citizens; the left believes in large government and dependent citizens.

In short, Ryan's character can be "characterized" as virtuous.

Looking at the Democrats' response to Romney's selection of Ryan, they are overjoyed at his selection and tout their joy openly.

The Democrats' glee -- even if exaggerated -- emanates from their belief that Americans will reject Ryan's economic and social plans to reduce the American debt, unleash private economic growth (the only type there is), and reform unsustainable government programs such as Medicare.

Democrats believe that if Americans perceive that their entitlements may be affected -- even if only beginning a decade from now, and even if the American debt is thereby cut by one third, and even if they, as well as the country, will ultimately benefit -- so many Americans have become so used to government benefits, the Republicans stand little chance of winning the upcoming elections.

In other words, and tragically, the left and Democrats are relying on their policies so far in corrupting the minds of at least 50.1% of Americans to have produced just enough decline in the American character. Democrats are hoping that older Americans are (irrationally) frightened by Medicare reform even though these reforms will not affect them, and that younger Americans will likewise reject these reforms because they are counting on receiving Medicare as it now exists.

Left-wing social policies are predicated on giving more and more Americans more and more benefits and demanding less and less from them.

The left's party, the Democratic Party, seeks to have the state pay for Americans' health care, give record numbers of Americans food stamps (now in a form similar to ATM and credit cards so that no stigma be involved), provide their children with school meals and provide women with child care and contraceptives, while enabling more and more Americans to pay no federal taxes to pay for any of these benefits.

The negative impact these policies have had on the character of Americans is indisputable. Every parent -- and probably most adults who are not parents -- knows what giving things they have not earned and demanding nothing from them in return produces: spoiled children.

Left-wing, Democratic Party policies have negatively impacted the American character in another way. Whenever possible, the left and the Democrats have de-stigmatized irresponsible behavior.

One example is women who give birth to and raise children without fathers in their children's lives. This past Sunday's New York Times opinion section featured another attack on those who stigmatize out of wedlock birth and single motherhood.

Another example is the cultural left's glorification of graffiti -- once regarded as vandalism of public and private property -- as "street art."

A third example is how difficult the Democratic Party and the left-wing education establishment have made it for teachers and principals to discipline disruptive and foul-mouthed students. The Department of Education has just declared education the "civil rights" issue of our generation" because black students are disproportionately suspended and otherwise punished by school officials. The effect? Black young people who abuse their teachers and schools feel empowered to continue their anti-social behavior.

At the same time, the left works to weaken the single most effective device for character building in American history: Judeo-Christian religions. Increasingly, the American motto "In God We Trust" has been replaced by "In Government We Trust" and "In Experts We Trust."

Since the Democrats could not win any national election with the votes of liberals alone -- according to Gallup, self-described liberals constitute just 21 percent of the electorate -- the great question of the 2012 American presidential election is this: Have the left and Democratic Party sufficiently weakened the character of enough Americans to enable the demonization of Paul Ryan to lead Barack Obama to victory?

We already know about 49 percent of Americans receive some sort of hand-out or entitlement and/or don't pay any taxes, up from 43% before Obama was inagurated. If it gets to 50.1%, the GOP in general, and the right as a whole may be history, so goes the charcter of the country.

Given the enormity of the national debt incurred by this administration, its spectacular failure to improve the nation's economy, and its commitment to weakening American defense, if there were a better explanation for a Democratic victory, I would welcome it. Give Obama four more years and it is possible that the 2016 election will see the last Republican candidate for President on a ballot and an America not in decline, but gone.

We believe that the Constitution of the United States speaks for itself. There is no need to rewrite, change or reinterpret it to suit the fancies of special interest groups or protected classes.