Sweat beading down their foreheads as they race, elbows sharpened and raised, towards what has been unattainable so far, likeability. The Republican candidates for President of the United States continuously cannibalize their chances of being liked raising questions about what qualities the American public deem as likeable in a person. Empirical research suggests that openness categorized by a willingness to discuss alternative ideas, have new experiences, and accept different perspectives is at the top of the list. Rather than figuratively chasing shadows, Republican candidates may benefit from a mystical experience courtesy of the hallucinogenic trigger in magic mushrooms (chasing shadows literally).
The latest research lead by a postdoctoral student in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Katherine MacLean, uncovered that the psychedelic drug may increase the key personality dimension of openness. Each of the study’s 52 participants “tripped balls” two to five times after being given a personality test. All participants were subject to two additional personality tests, one about a month later and the second a year after their trip.
As the Presidential debate season builds to a crescendo, candidates are beginning to cope with the notion that openness and by association likeability are the keys that unlock the front door to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, not polarizing rhetoric and hate. Throwing raw meat to the base in the form of support for the death penalty (Rick Perry), a lack of sympathy for the uninsured who are terminally ill under the thin veil of Libertarian idealism (Ron Paul), and disrespect for gay and lesbian members of the armed services who are on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan (every Republican candidate) may win you the Republican nomination, but not the general election.
The one potential contender with a firm grasp on this fundamental political philosophy is the Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie. His natural advantage over his rivals is likeability. His positions on the major issues are virtually no different than other mainstream candidates, yet voters across the political spectrum are drawn to him. And it is because they like him. He negotiates and compromises, both signify a slight openness. Today’s Republican pool is overflowing with piranha waiting to devour any openness and likeability. Fortunately for us Democrats, this is the precise reason why he will not, in my opinion, enter the Presidential race.
Until Republican strategists take time to scour the closest cow pasture, turn up the recently released remastered Grateful Dead live in Europe ’72 album, and open their minds, the Presidency will remain in Democratic hands. And that makes us at Monsieur Baguette optimistic because it proves that amidst the seemingly insurmountable challenges facing our society, more Americans than not are still looking for a leader that is open to new ideas, perspectives, and experiences.