Oh God, Can We Talk about Politics?

Being raised in the Midwest, in that crucial swing state Ohio no less, by an Organic Structure (NFJ) mother who abhors conflict and prizes harmony above all else, a Classic Freedom (SFJ) sister and business partner who gets migraines from heated discussions, and being an Organic Freedom (NFP) myself who avoids conflict like the plague — it’s hard for Kelly and I to venture into this prickly and conflict flooded arena, but we would be remiss if we didn’t add our personality type knowledge to the present political scene and the upcoming election. Perhaps in the spirit of how to have a civil political conversation at the dinner table, we will enter the fray.

Kelly and I both believe, regardless of political affiliation, that all successful presidents tend to be Smarts or (NTs.) Why? Well they have the big picture skills needed to take in the whole breadth of the office of presidency and being able to use logic first when making decisions is a lot easier when you’re the commander-in-chief of the armed forces making decisions that often result in life or death. Using justice (T) over mercy (F) can make the job a lot easier when dealing in probabilities everyday. Plus they’re gifted at delegating and one of the most important things in being a good CEO of anything is learning how to pick the right talent for the job. Let brilliant people with more knowledge than you in a subject area handle the details, you handle the big stuff and the big decisions.

Now I’m sure some of you will agree with us that Reagan was a great president, and others of you will agree that Clinton was a great president. Regardless, I think it’s easy to argue that our economic situation during both those presidents was a bit better than it is now, so…Kelly used to think that Clinton and Reagan both seemed like extraverted Organic Structures (ENFJs). She thought Clinton was one because it was just so damn hard not to like him even if you didn’t agree with his policies and he had that guiding logic in his wife Hilary, who is most likely an extraverted Smart Structure (ENTJ), which accounts for why everyone’s always calling her shrill. People can be put off by logical women and assume they’re ice queens when they’re not. Everyone has feelings even Smart Structures (NT) with their often tough exteriors.

Kelly also thought Reagan seemed like an extraverted Organic Structure (ENFJ) because he thought big picture but was so darn genial even when scolding — “There you go again.” Some people mistakenly think he was an actor who just became President and don’t realize how long he worked at building his political skills, beliefs and resume. The reason Kelly changed her mind about both Reagan and Clinton is that they were both excellent politicians and actors. There was this old Saturday Night Live skit that would show Phil Hartman (oh god, how we miss him!) as Reagan being all dopey and forgetful in front of the public posing with Girl Scouts in the Oval Office and then he’d shoo them out, close the doors and transform into an intense general waging war, and that points more to an extraverted Smart Structure (ENTJ.)

Smart Structures (NT) can be rough around the edges, beloved by those in their inner circle and misunderstood by those who don’t know them personally. Smart Structures born to lead in a democracy have to hone their “F” for the public to create a softer, approachable side, hence why being a good actor is probably an essential requirement to any successful presidency. But it has to be truly honed. Fake it ’til you make it, which is to say that Smart Structures do not make decisions based on logic (T) 100% of the time. They just need to know when to access the flip side of their preference for logic to better connect with people and negotiate with adversaries or enemies. We’re sure Clinton did “feel your pain” — as we said above even the toughest Smart Structure has a heart — but he also was able to order people’s death via tomahawk strikes in Afganistan and then the Bosnia Herzegovina conflict, which most Organic Structures (NFJ) would still be losing sleep over.

As for Reagan, whatever your thoughts about his domestic policies he was really instrumental in ending the Cold War (for good and bad) and the brinkmanship that got those results was really very logical and points to a more Smart (NT) mind. So there you go, part of Clinton and Reagan’s success was that they were Smart Structures (ENTJ) who really evolved their type so that they came across to many as super friendly Organic Structures (ENFJ).

Now onto less flush economic times. We bet GW is probably a Fun (SP) of some sort, and “evil” Dick Cheney, definitely an introverted Smart Structure (INTJ). I’m willing to bet Organic Freedoms (NFPs) in general would get disgusted with politics pretty early on and switch careers!! They’re actually the type most likely to drop out of the army. I think Obama is an introverted Fun Structure (STP) which is limiting in many ways because he doesn’t see the big picture, for example perhaps instead of pushing through an unpopular bill, balancing our budget like the rest of America has been forced to do for the last four years, might have been the better course. Kelly’s of the mind that he’s an introverted Smart Structure (INTJ) who just hasn’t evolved enough toward appearing as an Organic Structure (ENFJ) to negotiate with adversaries to pass a budget, prioritize the economy over his dream of public healthcare and win in a landslide this electon. Clinton always knew how to read his people, all his people, and it still feels like our President just hasn’t learned how to do this. He keeps seeing the trees and not the forest.

Frankly, I think Romney is an extroverted Classic Structure (ESTJ), and am not certain he’s got any better ideas for us than Obama except that his successful experience running a company and a state might actually help us out economically, but he’s not telling us precisely how, and so other than that I don’t see a difference between the two candidates personality type wise or policy wise. Neither is doing a very good job of telling us what they’re going to do, so where’s the vision? How can they be Smarts (NTs)? Kelly thinks Romney is a Smart Structure (NTJ) because he doesn’t connect with the voters, ie. he hasn’t learned to hone his (F) like Reagan and Clinton did, also his kids say he’s a goofy hands-on dad, which is a behavioral trait of Smarts (NTs). Also, CEO’s tend to be Smarts (NTs) too. And it could be that he’s not giving us a vision because, well, the future is bleak no matter what they do?! Sigh.

But on to how to talk about this at the dinner table without causing World War III. Make sure you all know you love each other deep down. If there’s any kind of dysfunction lurking beneath the surface, it might be well advised to steer clear of each other until after the election, and even then, keep Thanksgiving conversations as light as possible. But if you’re going to go ahead, be careful of those conflict avoidance types. The reason they avoid conflict is they can get emotional about politics and the logic types can get too clinical and cold about their arguments and the resulting conflict is Armageddon. So if you’re an F type — an Organic (NF), a Classic Freedom (SFJ) or Fun Freedom (SFP) — and see a fellow F type getting upset, try and diffuse the situation by stretching your preferences, coming to their aid, or, well, frankly declare the topic off limits. If you’re a T type, then do your best to see the other side, don’t just play devil’s advocate for the heck of it and notice if people are getting upset.

The easiest way to do this is to somehow agree, realize or accept that neither Democrats or Republicans are all heart or all business; they just have fundamentally different views on how one achieves the greatest good for the greatest many. And as for us libertarians, well, please realize we’re not heartless tea party racists, but classical liberals who would frankly at this point in the debate happily settle for a slightly smaller government, please thank you. Regardless, the dinner table should be a friendly and lively place, so remember to make like Reagan and Tip O’ Neal and have a drink together after the argument — it’s not personal, just business.