Saving Politics

From: L. Michael Hall
2021 Neurons #33
June 11, 2021
How Self-Actualization
Can Save Politics #1


For many people, politics is beyond saving. But not for those of us who believe and operate from Self-Actualization Psychology, for us the possibility of actualizing the highest potentials in people include the realm of politics. Now while I’ve written an entire book on Self-Actualizing Politics and Politicians (2014) and given examples of self-actualizing politicians, in more than seven years, politics has become even more divided and divisive, and it seems headed in that direction. This series of articles is designed to counter-balance that trend.

To understand politics is to understand that we are talking about human relationships. That is ultimately what all politics are— the ways that human beings get along or fail to get along with other human beings. That’s why politics occurs everywhere when there are at least two human beings. Every couple has their own unique politics. Every group has its politics. Every business, every office, every board.

The question is never, “Shall we or shall we not allow politics into our business or group?” That’s a false question because it is not a possibility. The question always is, “What kind of politics do we want?”
∙ Do we want respectful, thoughtful, and reflective politics or the opposite?
∙ Do we want transparent and open politics or politics of secrecy and hidden agendas?
∙ Do we want politics that include all voices or just a select few?
∙ Do we want politics that starts with the equality of all persons or do we want a politics based on skin color, ethnic origin, and “race?”

Politics is about human relationships, about how we get along with each other, and how we govern ourselves. The term itself comes from the Greek word for “city” (polis) and originally referred to a “household” and how the household functioned and was governed. Who did what? Who made decisions? How are resources allocated? How do we work together to create a functional home where we can be productive, safe, and respected. Where we can grow to become our best selves, find and actualize our best talents, and create a loving and caring environment.

Given this, the idea within politics is a most honorable idea. It inherently assumes that we are family and that by means of collaboration, we can create a mutually supportive environment that is the best for all. In this, politics is about creating a win/ win/ win set of arrangements. A win–win arrangement between individuals and a meta-win arrangement for the whole. This blows out the myths that misunderstand politics seeing it as something dirty, competitive, and inherently ugly and hateful. These are descriptions of politics gone wrong.

What then do we need in order to save politics from turning ugly, dirty, competitive, cruel, etc.? What will save us from the partisan politics of today that views things in either-or terms, that posits solutions as black-or-white and which cut off conversation so that we cannot have the difficult conversations that we need to have?

Obviously, the quality of our politics is a function of the quality of the people who exercise the most influence on politics. To have good self-actualizing politics, we have to have good people. Abraham Maslow said that anyone who wants power is precisely the person who should not have power. Yet far too often, the very people who “go into politics” (at the office or nationally) are people who are hungry for power. Yet these power-hungry people are the very ones who will not handle power humanly and respectfully, but misuse it.

Having good people, however, is not enough. It is a good start, but only the beginning. We need good ideas as well— good policies, good understanding of societal and cultural bonding works, how economics work, etc. Nor are these two sufficient. We also need good strategy. You can have great ideas and correct understandings, but without effective strategies for implementation, the good ideas will not get you very far.

Is that enough? Good people, good ideas, and good strategy? The answer is no. We also need good governance. Once we have set up a system that is good— separation of powers, shared powers, transparency, due diligence for selecting intelligent and ethical people, we still need the ability to govern in an unbiased way. To supplement good governance, we need good accountability. How many governments go to hell precisely because those in power are not held accountable? They live by the “good ole boy” practice of protecting each other’s hindside, and letting officials “get by with murder” (sometimes literally).

It takes a lot to create good healthy self-actualizing politics. It takes an informed population, an educated population, people who care about the quality of the governance, who will speak up about injustices. When we put these ideas together— whether it is for a family, a business, a nation— they describe human relationships. How we think, feel, talk, and act with each other.
Good people: Intelligent, caring, open, transparent, collaborative individuals.
Good ideas: Intelligent understanding about how things work.
Good strategy: Effective processes for how to make things work efficiently for all.
Good governance: Effective management of the processes that builds trust and respect.
Good accountability: Holding those in charge accountable to their responsibilities and duties.