There’s a psychological condition called Body Dysmorphic Disorder, or BDD, in which afflicted individuals perceive their bodies as profoundly distorted, deeply flawed and in need of never-ending remediation. Although I never treated him personally, I believe the late entertainer Michael Jackson exhibited indications that he may have suffered from BDD. Jackson’s numerous cosmetic facial surgeries suggested a pathological zeal to alter his visage as much as possible from the original, when most observers, I think, would concur that the original was relatively defect-free.
I mention this because many Americans who identify themselves as “progressives” these days seem to perceive their country much like Jackson seemed to perceive his face – profoundly distorted, deeply flawed and in need of never-ending remediation. Accordingly, these progressives seem to perceive “progress” as the alteration of America as much as possible from the original. Their rejection of traditional America is evident across the board – economically, culturally and geopolitically – and profound perceptual distortions are apparent in all three spheres.
Progressives reject classical economic theory in favor of Keynesian economic alchemy. Picture America’s GDP as a bucket of water. Keynesian theory holds that one can pour some of the water into a second bucket, then back into the original bucket, stir it around, and end up with more water than there originally was. That’s not much different from the alchemists of old thinking they could synthesize gold from relatively worthless substances (or, for that matter, from today’s progressives thinking they can give health insurance to millions of low-income Americans, expand benefits for everyone and reduce overall health-care costs).
Progressives also reject traditional American cultural values. They embrace the equation of the government’s interest in sanctioning heterosexual and same-sex marriages, yet they paradoxically reject the notion that our law should do much, if anything, to enforce marriage commitments of any type. Thanks to progressive “no-fault” divorce legislation in virtually every American jurisdiction, American law generally now will do more to enforce a gym-membership contract than a marriage contract. And progressives embrace legalization of dangerous drugs for both ostensible medicinal and recreational uses.
Progressives also reject the projection of American strength globally. If America is to lead the community of nations at all, they prefer that it “lead from behind.” In other words, they prefer that America project weakness in the name of “co-dependence” upon weaker nations. They see America not as an historical liberator of nations but as an oppressor of nations. Thus, they are ashamed of their country and prioritize apologetic appeasement of other, even aggressor, nations over the resolute promotion and defense of liberty. In essence, they prioritize America being liked over it being respected, and certainly over it being feared.
Problem is, just as with Jackson’s original facial structure, there’s a lot more right than wrong with traditional America. And just as Jackson became the “King of Pop” with his original face, America became the greatest nation in human history with – and, I would argue, because of – its traditions, to wit: The productivity of generations of traditional, stable, sober families has built America into an economic and geopolitical superpower whose dependable projection of strength has stabilized the world, and the only way to add water to our metaphorical GDP and health-care buckets is to incentivize greater productivity using classical economic principles.
Thus, as a psychologist, lawyer and MBA who sees traditional America clearly, I hereby propose a redefinition of “ADD” as “America Dysmorphic Disorder” to apply to individuals who see traditional America as profoundly distorted, deeply flawed and in need of never-ending remediation. While most conventional ADD – Attention Deficit Disorder – diagnoses are bogus, my redefined version actually will fit millions of Americans, progressives mostly, and rather alarmingly, I believe our president exhibits indications that he may quite possibly be afflicted.
The president seems to admire an America, one he hopes to create, but unlike past presidents of both parties, he doesn’t seem to admire the America that traditionally has existed, which is curious given the opportunities traditional America has afforded him. America’s past isn’t perfect. For example, I don’t begrudge any American, especially one of African descent, indignation about slavery, whether his ancestors were here then or not, but in skipping the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, the president seemed loath to celebrate how the country literally tore itself in half and put itself back together to right that wrong.
The curability of ADD depends upon how deeply an individual case is rooted in ideology. The president may be incurable, but many cases can be cured and many more prevented by education – about the values and practices that made America great. These days, Chinese college students often articulate better than American students why progressive ideals like tax-funded economic “stimulus” and “health insurance for all” don’t operationalize well in the forms of “shovel-ready” projects and distribution websites. If Chinese students continue to understand America better than many Americans do, then ADD can only be expected to spread.