All across America the gender divide that characterized the recent Presidential election is being lived in the same household. The woman in the home is disconsolate, dispirited, crestfallen, abjectly dejected and feeling wounded over the defeat of Hillary Clinton as the first female with a chance to be President. The man in the home is reticent to crack a smile over his elation that crooked Hillary is not the 45th President of the United States.
As one friend whispered to me facetiously on the phone: “I’m wearing a piece of duct tape over my mouth so my wife can’t see me smirk over the election of Donald Trump.”
Feelings over the election are intense, especially at home. One online video shows a black mother kicking her own male child out of her house for having voted for Donald Trump in a mock election at school. [Daily Mail Nov 11, 2016]
Yes, Americans are certainly aware of the current state of political polarization. The fact that neither candidate held a convincing majority of votes in the election further intensifies the bitterness.
Many Americans are saying in their minds “how could Americans not see it the way I saw it.”
The photo of a disgruntled and dejected White House staff the day after the election has made its rounds. It speaks loudly for the emotions of the day. [NBC News Nov 9, 2016]
To say it another way, the strength of Americans beliefs in each candidate and conviction that the other candidate represents something abominable is what polarizes the emotions. A modern phenomenon is that most Americans vote against the candidate they abhor the most, not for the candidate whose platform they embrace.
There is embitterment among female voters on the losing side and glee and jubilation among males on the winning side. Neither side can see why the other is either insensitive to their feelings or could be so stupid to not deal with the facts. These lines of intensity are strongly drawn by gender and they are surprisingly rooted in biology.
A report published in a psychology journal said: “females at all levels of political involvement score higher in self-transcendent values that emphasize concern for the welfare of others, but no significant gender differences emerge for self-enhancement, which favor the pursuit of self-interest.” [International Journal Psychology Nov 27, 2015]
There are a lot of crosscurrents involved in voting decisions. There are obvious inconsistencies on both sides: women who vote for milk for infants of illegal immigrants yet demand the right to abortion; and women who oppose abortion while not a word of outcry is said about U.S. military bombing of households in the Middle East that have killed countless numbers of children. [Scientific American]
Female voters are the nurturers. Males are the conquerors, defenders and risk takers. As an overgeneralization, by nature women are socialists, looking for government to help the downtrodden and a candidate who embraces that position. Would we want women to be anything less? Caring is at the core of what women bring to the game of life.
Psychiatrists tell us there is a hormone that explains all this called oxytocin. Oxytocin is produced by the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls certain metabolic processes, such as hunger, body temperature, thirst, sleep, and day-night rhythms. Oxytocin is naturally secreted during hugs, kisses, lactation, childbirth and orgasm. [Wikidot]
The generosity hormone and politics
Dr. Paul J Zak of the Department of Neuroeconomics at Claremont Graduate University explains that in 2004 oxytocin was discovered by his research team to be the internal agent that determines whom we trust. It is called the “moral hormone.” It is also determines whether we exhibit generosity. A 2007 study reported that oxytocin supplementation increases generosity by 80%. [Psychology Today 2009]
Imagine a female Secretary of the Treasury whose oxytocin hormones are unusually high. The national debt would probably double overnight (just being facetious here).
When you have a country that is $18 trillion in debt, it can’t afford to be overly generous. When you have a country facing a burgeoning population of retirees that demand healthcare and a retirement check, you may not be able to afford so many wars.
A female secretary of the Treasury might have to subordinate her instincts to care for the less fortunate. Of course, the other alternative is just to cull the population of retirees, something that was imagined in the movie Soylent Green.
Financial realities may be difficult for oxytocin-driven Americans to address. For example, it’s not about American companies paying their fair share of taxes as Hillary Clinton campaigned, but the realization American companies can’t compete against companies overseas if burdened with corporate taxes that exceed those levied by foreign countries.
The idea of universal health care is often bandied about. Equal access to medical care is a heartfelt plea. However, needless medical care is already a trillion dollar problem. [New Yorker May 11, 2015] What do we when everybody has a right to unnecessary care?
America doesn’t even have enough physicians to meet immediate and future demand for expanded health care let alone universal health care. [American Association Medical Colleges] Oxytocin may drive Americans (at least American women) to express their will to provide health care for all, but that would not change America’s ability to do that.
For the most part, when our hearts go out to the less fortunate at the ballot box we are usually voting for someone else to pay the bill. Or worse, today we are voting for the Federal Reserve Bank to conjure up electronic money and just put it into existence, diluting the value of the existing money supply. Americans don’t realize our living standard today relies upon racking up more debt on our national credit card.
Few Americans realize they have debt-based money in their wallets. (A ten-dollar Federal Reserve Note is a promise to pay Japan or China or other countries that have purchased U.S. Treasury Notes – aka an IOU – ten dollars + interest).
Oxytocin predictive of political preferences
Writing in Psychology Today, Dr. Zak says oxytocin determines political preferences, but only for Democrats, not Republicans.
“During the 2008 presidential primary season, my colleagues and I administered synthetic oxytocin to 88 male college students who had self-identified as Democrats, Republicans, or Independents (women were excluded because oxytocin’s effects change over the menstrual cycle). After an hour, enough oxytocin gets into the brain to make people more trusting, generous, and empathic toward others. But politics separates us from others.”
The experiment was simple: Rate from 0 to 100 how warm you feel toward politicians like the U.S. president, your congressperson, and those running in the then-wide-open presidential primaries for both parties.
We found that Democrats on oxytocin had significantly warmer feelings toward all Republican candidates than did Democrats who received a placebo, including a 30 percent warmth increase for John McCain, a 28 percent boost for Rudy Giuliani, and a 25 percent rise for Mitt Romney.
For Republicans, nothing. Oxytocin did not make them more supportive of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or John Edwards. Independents waffled, but oxytocin moved them a bit toward the Democratic Party.
Digging into the data deeper, we found that it wasn’t all Democrats on oxytocin who warmed up toward the GOP but only those loosely affiliated with the party. Call them Democratic swing voters, but the fact is that Republican swing voters could not be similarly moved.
Our findings are consistent with studies showing that Democrats tend to be less fixed in their views, while Republicans worry more about security and have an exaggerated response after an unexpected stressor.” [Political Behavior Dec 2013; Psychology Today Sept 25, 2012]
Oxytocin and gullibility
But wait, oxytocin is also a hormone that explains how vulnerable we are to getting scammed. [How We Get Scammed] That often heard statement “if you voted for (fill in the blank), have I got a bridge to sell you” is in play here.
Yes, you may fall for a bogus sales pitch if you let oxytocin completely control your judgment. Knowing this can make us less gullible says Dr. Zak.
Imagine Election Day occurs when more fertile women are at the peak of their monthly cycle and their oxytocin levels are higher. Fortunately, women’s menstrual cycles don’t sync up or we might see an even more demonstrative effect on elections. [Greatist.com] In fact it was Caucasian women whose distrust of Hillary Clinton that swung the election to Donald Trump.
Who was the underdog?
A question arises. Are women slaves to the ebb and flow of oxytocin that sways their political thinking at the ballot box?
In the most recent Presidential election Donald Trump was actually the underdog. Let’s not forget this feeling sorry for the underdog hormone is what drives women to write letters to men in prison. It is what causes women to take in stray cats and marry losers in the mistaken attempt to remake a man. Oxytocin actually does influence behavior.
In an odd way, losing the Presidential debates might draw sympathy from female voters who feel a candidate was being treated unfairly. Donald Trump didn’t fare well in the TV debates.
Recall President George W. Bush and his bumbling speeches. [Here are some replays of them] Some Americans rallied to his defense feeling he was getting picked on when critics ridiculed the President’s malapropisms.
Cindy Sheehan, who lost a son in the Iraq war and led a one-woman campaign against G.W. Bush and his “imperial war for oil” was later said to have “almost felt sorry” for President Bush. [Canada Free Press]
A lot of female protestors in the streets
The protests and petitions to nullify the free election of Donald Trump will likely continue to gain attention by the news media. The first 100 days of a Presidency are usually a honeymoon period when Congress and the news press put down their boxing gloves. But this time a Purple Revolution has begun against the Trump Presidency from the outset of his election.
All I can offer at this time to bring America together is for those who feel disenfranchised by Donald Trump’s election to pray President Trump’s wife Melania Trump to morph into the Bible’s Esther. Esther, as the wife of the king, influenced him to spare the lives of many who had already been given a death sentence. Don’t be surprised if Melania’s unusual composure and countenance sways the decisions coming out of The White House.
Women marching in the street are less likely to make an impact upon current events. Let us not forget that over 3000 years ago a nurturing woman plucked a small infant named Moses floating in a basket out of the Nile River and changed history.
I have always said, if a woman is in a room with twelve men, the men are outnumbered.