Thinking out loud about running for President.
That thought, expressed by Brian Schweitzer — ever heard of him? — reminds me of the discussion we were having last month about "national psychology" — "the (real or alleged) distinctive psychological make-up of particular nations, ethnic groups or peoples, and... the comparative study of those characteristics in social psychology, sociology, political science and anthropology."
The assumption of national psychology is that different ethnic groups, or the people living in a national territory, are characterized by a distinctive "mix" of human attitudes, values, emotions, motivation and abilities which is culturally reinforced by language, the family, schooling, the state and the media.It's out of fashion:
Politically and morally... it is conducive to racist generalisations about people... [and] may lead directly to ascriptive discrimination against foreigners, meaning that one's own people are regarded as naturally superior....But when we step down a level of generality and talk about the psychology of the people of the various states of the United States, we somehow lose the sense that we're doing something wrong. Why?
Scientifically, because... [even if] generalizations and distinctions drawn are valid, they may be too general, or require too many qualifications, to be useful. There is an intrinsic difficulty involved in verifying national-psychological characteristics scientifically in any positivistic sense....
1. Because this is a type of thinking that springs quite naturally to the human mind, and so much of it is forbidden. What little access to the relief of spewing such notions remains is so valuable to people that they self-protectively inure themselves to the problem.
2. Because even consciously thinking about it now, stereotypes about people from particular states don't seem too harmful. We're fortunate as Americans to have inherited these strange internal borderlines with charming names like Iowa and Montana, and our various thoughts about the people in these places gives texture and dimension to our concept of the people of America. It's not one big mass, it's We the People of the united STATES of America. It's a helpful visualization, even if it's pretty dumb — a map, with farmers standing on Iowa and so forth.