Turn on the television. I challenge you to flip through a channel and not find a clip of the president, a congressman, or your mayor. The words that crowd the air from their carefully crafted speeches bury themselves in our subconscious, finding their way in our opinions come voting season. Our impassioned ideals are a result of the swagger, smile, and impeccable suits that flood our timelines. This isn’t just an accident. It is calculated; sometimes even too calculated. Speechwriters look at their audience and attach inside jokes, cultural acknowledgments, and sometimes forced laughs. Things that are said at a steel mill opening in Pittsburgh are omitted from meetings in England. The scrutiny behind it all is incredibly animated and scripted. But in reality, it’s a psychology. And when it comes to the psychology of politics, we have had the likes of Lasswell and Gallup, but now we have Rossi.
You instantly feel at ease the moment you meet Dr. Rossi (he has a Ph.D. In General-Theoretical Psychology from Fordham University). He gave me a full handshake and a warm smile that only a politician understood, but actually meant it. As we sat down, I complimented his tie (being a tie aficionado myself), which lead to him telling me the anecdote behind it. This was not just random banter, he read my interest quickly, telling me a story that he knew I would appreciate. This is a layman’s analogy of psychology; studying mental and behavioral cues to come to a conclusion on an individual. This might not have been intentional, but years studying, analyzing, and parsing data are hard to hide. Not that he would want to hide any of that knowledge, as he has directed numerous teams (from the Independent Child Study Teams to the American Psychological Association), written a well received book (The New-New American Life Style: Post September 11, 2001), and co-hosted an Emmy-Winning show (Ebru’s Fresh Outlook). But, this is not a portrait of an armchair psychologist, yet one of a man who is the leading political psychologist in a time where politics can’t be taken on face value. The psychology of politics is not new, as we have been studying it’s effects since the days of Washington. There is a need for it’s intrinsic value now, as we have lost too much faith in our elected officials, that have ranged from illicit dalliances to conflicting ideals. At one point, we trusted those who promised us lowered taxes and higher wages. Now, we just roll our eyes when we skim our feeds or catch sound bites.
The real question is, Why? It isn’t a simple question to ask, nor is one to expect a basic answer. That’s where Dr. Rossi comes in. As evidenced this past year alone, he has been essential in providing a clear path to the mind’s of people such as Governor Christie (the repercussions and cause of Fort Lee lane closure), and the growing deterioration of the United States and it’s mental health (largely focused on the military of now and the future). We are not so easily cajoled anymore, as seen in the 1960 Presidential election, where John F. Kennedy’s good looks, charm, and the presence of televised debates, all about sealed Richard Nixon’s fate. We are smarter, more on edge now, and we want to know the inner machinations of the decisions that affect us on a day to day. This is why I spent the better part of an afternoon asking Dr. Rossi the hard questions about Bridgegate, Obama, the coming election, and even the death of Robin Williams. I wanted to know why. I wanted the complex answers, the fallacies, and all the complexes and syndromes that are buzzing around our head like mental fruit flies. It’s easy to criticize, to gauge opinion, but to know the root of all of it, that’s a whole different level.
The field is a strong one, especially with a highly touted election veering it’s ugly head at us in less than twelve months. Before we cast our ironclad votes, we want to know what troubles our potential representative has been through, what their traits and motives are, and what’s their driving force. These all seem like simple answers to layered individuals, but in actuality this is another area where I will leave the analysis to the experts. After the time I spent with Dr. Rossi, I can easily say he is on the top of that list.