I’ve said it before in this blog, and I’ll say it again: It takes all kinds to make up this big, crazy world.

I’m sure many of you followed to some extent the recent U.S. elections. Interesting stuff, democracy. There were certainly some ugly moments, and I’m not talking about the regular old mudslinging between candidates. That’s always ugly. I’m talking mostly about the discourse between supporters of opposing candidates/parties.

Most of what I saw comes from online forums and discussions, where the level of reasoned discourse was really quite low, but given relative anonymity and high tensions, I’d submit that this is a pretty good representation of what people really thought and felt. I “liked” all the relevant candidates on Facebook. You know, so I could get all the propaganda.

Social media and communication technology is amazing—and will likely contribute to the evolution of society in a very real way—but some of this stuff was just embarrassing.

Perhaps this can be most illustrated in Mitt Romney’s now-infamous “47%” comment, in which he basically called 47% of the U.S. population a bunch of moochers in an attempt to draw attention to a deeper issue he saw, that being that the state coddles a vast number of Americans. Romney hoped to drastically reduce entitlements to many of these folks, expecting that they’d get to work, contribute to the economy and the U.S. could save some money.

Boy, did the constituency pick up on this one. Republicans ran with it and the running theme in online discussions was that anyone who supported Obama must be a lazy layabout that depends on welfare to survive. From the other side, the rhetoric suggested that anyone who supported Romney must either have no heart or be wealthy and out of touch with social realities. Also, they both called each other stupid about every chance they got.

As we know, Obama won, two new states legalized gay marriage and two states legalized marijuana. The first ever openly gay member of Congress was elected, as was the first Buddhist. The left has declared a major victory, many of them thinking the Republicans and their message has been soundly thumped—and for good.

Now, I don’t think that’s true, nor do I think all of these folks are either stupid, lazy or both.

Something interesting about democracy is that, every election, the values that evolve, change and grow in society manifest themselves. Values inform our institutions from government to private organizations to non-profits and even the conventions we rely on to guide our everyday interactions in society. One could argue that values having to do with tolerance for diversity in society have, in a way, prevailed. Even Republicans are acknowledging that their defeat probably has something to do with being perceived as intolerant. Fair enough. But to think that the 2012 federal elections are going to silence that sector of society that objects to the welfare state (or nanny state, if you will), is a mistake.

When it comes to business, markets and the economy, what’s going on is conflict on a grand scale between different Interacting for Benefit mentalities. Every mentality has certain preoccupations which, if they go unchecked, can be damaging to economic activity.

The domestic/economic policies espoused by Obama and the Democrats favor a community-centered approach. To quote THEE:

“Community-centered policy-makers seek to redistribute wealth via taxation. This may reach levels that inhibit the entrepreneurial spirit. Similarly, egalitarian policies for the workplace often interfere with the efficient running of a business and actually generate unemployment.” 

Not surprising considering Obama began his political career as a community organizer in Chicago.

It is certainly admirable to want to have equality and security in one’s community, but taken to the extreme, it can be rather damaging. And this is exactly the crux of Republican economic criticisms. Of course, the rhetoric of the right, all the doom and gloom and talk about “the American way” was a big turn-off to those who might otherwise be willing to lend a sympathetic ear. Romney, on the other hand, seems to be primarily power-centered, and his market-centeredness might inform his view that welfare is a waste of money. Again, to quote THEE regarding power-centered individuals:

“Their earnings, when laundered through lawful businesses, provide them with an unfair advantage.”

Sounds a lot like the guy who made his fortune as a venture capitalist, wouldn’t release his tax returns, and kept presumably quite a bit of money in the Cayman Islands to avoid taxes.

This sort of mentality fosters cronyism, corruption and even calculated criminality. But don’t think that power shouldn’t be wielded in society. Imagine the drawbacks of true anarchy.

However, any victor would be making a mistake to think that any mentality will ever be removed from society. These are enduring human traits and, no doubt, these debates will rage on. And all mentalities serve society in one way or another.

Political parties, being both ideological and reactive to social pressures, do cater their messages to one way of thinking or another—and they do capitalize on outlining divisions and differences. Understanding Interacting for Benefit mentalities might go a long way in understanding your society and your role in it. And THEE offers some very interesting and helpful insights into how these mentalities can work together to generate benefit for all.

Who would’ve thought the way you think is immeasurably important in how your society functions. I guess you really are an important piece of the puzzle.

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