4 Reasons Why We Keep Electing Narcissists and Sociopaths

It isn’t common for narcissists and sociopaths to rule the world…

If you believe that democracy has ceased to be what it should be, you’re not the only one. The reason for that isn’t politics, but personalitis: too many countries, including the US, have come under the sway of high-conflict people who have become politicians.

If you’re unlucky enough to meet a narcissist or sociopath, the thing to do is protect yourself and avoid giving them any power. Unfortunately, this seemingly easily grasped concept—namely, don’t vote for narcissists and sociopaths—is among the least practiced throughout history.

The world we know is what it is because too many of us have regularly given people with narcissistic and sociopathic traits power on a plate.

Unpredictable as they appear, narcissists and sociopaths follow a consistent pattern of behavior. They habitually cheat, lie, demean, and blame others, and they don’t manage their emotions. They may violate laws, are often adversarial, and may enter politics for the express purpose of engaging in large-scale swindling and stealing from the public purse.

People with these traits exacerbate, rather than manage, conflict. They are driven to remove or control their perceived enemies. They feel at war with the world and project this way of thinking onto others, seeing others as at war with them. They are driven to lack remorse, dominate, never reflect on their own actions—hence, never change—and are likely impossible to change.

Once you know all of this, you can’t help but wonder why we keep on electing narcissists and sociopaths. In this article, we’ll round up four of the reasons why this happens at all levels of society (from work to mayors to heads of state).

Let’s get started!

narcissists and sociopaths
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1. High-emotion media

In the past, business leaders, unions, political parties, and others had time to get to know the true personalities of those who wanted to be leaders. Elections were generally between people screened for a range of skills before becoming candidates.

Today, with cable TV, network television, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, there’s a lot of competition to gain attention for a candidate. But since practically anyone can run for almost any office now, people with extreme personalities will receive the most attention.

Narcissists and sociopaths are attracted to unlimited power and lots of attention. And the types of media mentioned above are compelled to fill their news and programming with those who have the most exciting faces and voices, who are always talking about crises, chaos, conflict, and fear—the emotional situations that are most likely to quickly grab attention away from the more boring (but still important) information of normal politicians.

To put it another way, you don’t need any governing skills or leadership skills to get elected now. You just happen to be someone who is dramatically preoccupied with telling stories of crises, conflict, fear, and chaos.

Just as the game of baseball draws the tallest players, the game of high-emotion media attracts those with high-conflict personalities. Narcissists and sociopaths are the best at this game.

2. Seductive personalities

Whether in hiring, dating, or electing people, narcissists and sociopaths are the two most seductive personalities that exist. For those narcissists and sociopaths who also want to become politicians, they learn how to lure whole populations. They can be temporarily highly effective—long enough to win an election—but eventually are usually very harmful in the long run.

Yet most people tend to miss the simple early red flags of these high-conflict politicians.

Narcissists and sociopaths greatly exaggerate their accomplishments, then seduce people with their majestic ideas. “I will build you a house/wall/franchise/whatever. I give you my promise.” Does it ring a bell?

They often convince themselves that it’s true. It’s not uncommon for narcissists and sociopaths to make serious threats and dot their discourse with flat-out lies.

Since sociopaths lack remorse and narcissists lack empathy, they can and will say whatever they believe will seduce their targets. They are constantly speaking, often in luring and charming intimate tones, as they pretend to share political views, interests, and an us-against-them strategy, which builds a particularly powerful bond with their followers.

Moreover, both narcissists and sociopaths are very skilled at constantly complaining that they’ve been treated unfairly, so they educate their followers step-by-step to aggressively defend them and fight for them when the situation calls for it.

By the way, if you want to learn more about how evil is adjusted for political purposes, this book is the perfect introduction.

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3. The 4-way voter split

Not everyone misses the warning signs. In fact, the high-conflict politicians seldom ever reached the support of more than 40% of the population. The majority of voters never supported narcissists and sociopaths as leaders.

However, more often than not, the majority becomes divided, fighting with each other and becoming hopelessly ineffective. Even though they had eyes to see the catastrophe that the high-conflict politician presented, they still tended to believe in the fantasy villain(s) and the fantasy crisis (we’ll talk about this on No. 4). In other words, they were seduced as well.

The eligible voters tend to be split into four groups.

Loving loyalists. This group consists of the followers of the high-conflict politician who have an emotional bond with their leader and will defend them even when their policies change and attack those loyalists who were by their side the day before. Most of the time, 30–40% of people are automatically comfortable with the high-conflict leader from the start.

Riled-up resisters. These are the people who intuitively know that the authoritarian leader is a threat to the nation’s or community’s existence. They are by default angry and protest. These may be 10–20% of people. They are especially angry at the moderates for not getting more involved.

Mild Moderates. These are the people usually in the middle, and they are who actually decide elections. They tend to include conservatives and liberals. They dislike the narcissists and sociopaths in positions of power, but they absorb the intense negativity the high-conflict politician teaches against the fantasy villain; therefore, they equally dislike the alleged villain.

They also get irritated with both the resisters and loyalists. They become particularly angry with the resisters and start to perceive them as fantasy villains, sometimes using the same language as the high-conflict politician about them. They may be 30–40%.

Disenchanted dropouts. These people are the potential voters who don’t vote. They want to stay away from politics and just withdraw altogether. Many are also convinced that the world we’re living in is a huge crisis and that the villain and the hero are equally bad. This can be the largest group of all four, such as about half the voters in some elections.

These four groups can shift back and forth with elections, but usually the last three put together are consistently larger than the loyalists. Yet they are ineffective and unprepared for the high-conflict politicians’s constant blaming and division of them, so narcissists and sociopaths get into office and stay for a while.

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4. The fantasy crisis triad

According to experts, when it comes to the most high-conflict politicians of the past one hundred years, there’s a very similar pattern consisting of three main aspects.

  1. There’s a terrific crisis threatening us all.
  2. This crisis is caused by an evil villain, which can be an individual or a group.
  3. A remarkable hero is needed—usually an exciting outsider—who will defeat the villain(s) and solve the crisis with all-or-nothing strategies.

The hero is the high-conflict politician who couldn’t get elected if only skills would matter, so they have to declare or create a crisis in order to get everyone’s attention toward a fantasy crisis triad rather than analyzing real abilities.

This triad works every time narcissists and sociopaths seeking power through politics convince a significant number of people that they are the heroes the community or nation needs because of how aggressively and confidently they speak.

It’s all based on emotions and speeches, which distract people from reality.

If you liked our article on why we elect narcissists and sociopaths, you may also want to read How to Spot a Sociopath: 8 Signs That Confirm the Disorder.




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