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I am chuckling, but recently I watched this little you tube video by Frans de Waal, a primatologist who is partly responsible for the pop culture notion of what an “alpha male” is. He touches on several good points, primarily the way we have misconstrued it so badly, it is now related to hierarchy, rank, and being a bully.

We’ve forgotten the most important part, empathy! The way politicians walk about kissing babies?? Yep, we totally copied that behavior from chimpanzees, kind of like the way we went and named a herd of baboons, a congress. Studying politics and studying animals really does have some overlap.

So why do we kiss babies when we are out campaigning? To demonstrate our empathy! To show our compassion. To convey the idea that we care. Compassion towards those we wish to lead. I will protect and provide for you.

I don’t particularly buy into theories around evolution and I usually despise all evo/psych theories, actually I despise the whole field. However, there is still something valuable to be learned here, especially when it comes to politics! The truth is, our human biology is always going to lead us to follow the one who we perceive as the best Consoler in Chief.

Who cares about us? Who understands our issues? Who empathizes? Who is in touch with what ails us, what threatens us? Who do we feel connected to, as if they really know me?

That is the quality that wins elections every single time. It is more important than anything else. We will follow the guy with a cheese grater on his head who wants to establish a lake made of chocolate pudding, if we feel like he understands us and gets our issues.

One reason why the scene in the Bible with the Samaritan woman is so powerful is because she exclaims, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done…!” Boom, instant leadership, instant authority. It is the compassion of Jesus, the “knowing of her,” that has her wanting to follow Him and run off to tell the others. That really is how human nature works.

Also, notice when Jesus sends the Holy Spirit He says, But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

The Comforter, the Consoler in Chief, not the boss, not the bully, not the macho, manly, tough guy, but The Comforter.

I really disliked President Bush, but when was he at his most popular? Right after 911 when he was cast in the role of Consoler in Chief. That is leadership, that is what serves to unite people and steer off divisions.

This is one reason why I have hollered from the rooftops, pounded my way through several keyboards, made such a fuss about stupid red pill ideologies and alpha men, and shrieked about some misguided conservatives and their quest to declare empathy as sin. Besides making you a general all purpose lunkhead and destroying interpersonal relationships, it’s also how you proceed to lose elections.

One thing conservatives are really good at doing, is losing elections.

There is this terribly misguided notion in the world that tries to suggest that empathy is weakness, that being a stoic is what makes you strong. I think that is a complete reversal of the truth, such a deception it reminds me of just playing opposite day. It is exceedingly difficult to mourn with those who mourn, grieve with those who grieve, and rejoice with those who rejoice. It costs us something and it is a real balancing act to be careful not to lose your own self in the process. It requires tremendous strength, major self control, and great self awareness. There is nothing “soft” or “weak” about it.

It is also not the arena of femininity. Ha! Some of the meanest, most unempathetic people I know are actually women. Often women are perceived as being more empathetic, but that is frequently a very superficial illusion.

You have to care and you have to demonstrate that truth by intimately knowing the experiences, struggles, and desires of the people you want to serve. It just is what it is. It is also Biblical, and backed up by psychology and biology.

It’s also a significant key to winning elections.