Politicians and the Servant Archetype


On a recent program of Moyers & Company, host Bill Moyers, one of the few sane voices on television these days (billmoyers.com), talked with journalist Mark Leibovich about his latest book, This Town, an exposeé of Washington, DC, a city where money rules the day and status is determined by who you know and what they can do for you. “If you can sell yourself as someone who knows how Washington works, that’s a very marketable commodity . . . you can dine out for years. That’s why no one leaves,” explains Leibovich.
     It used to be that people went to Washington to serve their constituents, and to help make the world a better place. “Now people go to Washington to cash in,” Leibovich told Moyers. He went on to say that Washington politicians had contempt for their constituents and didn’t act like public servants, that there is only bipartisanship when there’s money to be made, and that there’s a lot of money to be made when there’s a problem—so there’s little incentive to fix the problems.
     “The American Dream is now a nightmare,” said Moyers. “Washington is not doing well, it’s out of touch, and there is no sense that the rest of the country is in bad shape. In place of service, there is excess, indecent decadence, preening, and the cult of celebrity. We are close to losing our democracy to the mercenary class . . . the predators in Washington are only this far from a monopoly control of our government. They bought the political system lock, stock and pork barrel, making change from within impossible. . . . to them belong the spoils of a looted city . . . they fix the system and stick it to consumers while rewarding corporations. This is the end game for democracy.”
     This caught my attention. After all, our elected officials are public servants, and without the “servant” part of that, why are they there and what are they doing? Apparently, they are lining their pockets while the rest of the country is suffering from lower wages and severe belt-tightening at the state and city level, if not outright bankruptcy.
The Servant archetype is a behavior pattern that evolves out of an innate desire to serve. People with the Servant archetype want everyone to have a better life, and they believe they can help. This quote from David Hanson, a robotics designer interviewed on the Charlie Rose TV show, epitomizes the Servant archetype: “The only purpose of our life is to help people—to help each other—and to relieve suffering.” Hillary Clinton and Jimmy Carter are good examples of politicians with the Servant archetype, also Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren, senators from Massachusetts, as well as John Kerry, our current Secretary of State. Regrettably, Bill Clinton and George Bush did not have the Servant archetype, and it showed. George Bush Sr., however, did, and it’s probably true that people thought, “Like father, like son,” when they elected George Junior, except it wasn’t . . .
     So I decided to take a look at the list of US Senators to see just how many of them have the Servant archetype, something you’d think would be essential for our political system to function.
     What I discovered was disheartening, even more so when I realized I had got hold of a list that was from 2007—the inclusion of Edward Kennedy alerted me to that fact—so I found a current list, with Elizabeth Warren replacing the deceased Sen. Kennedy. The first list showed that Republicans had one senator with the Servant archetype, while the Democrats had 23. In 2013, it was worse, with the Republicans having NOT ONE SINGLE senator with the Servant archetype (Olympia Snowe had resigned citing increasing hostilities between the parties which made progress impossible), and the Democrats had just 22, or about 42%. Though this is a better record than the Republicans, it’s still pretty dismal—it means that 58% of Democrats in the Senate are not there to serve the public, but are in it for the power and the money. The bottom line is that just 21% of our Senators are there to serve the people.
     So next time there’s an important election, just drop me a line and I’ll tell you who DOES have the Servant archetype, and would make a good public servant, a good president. What’s that, you’re asking about Mitt Romney? No, sorry, not public servant material, instead he is the Prince and the Miser, not a good combination for being President of the United States. Thank goodness most voters picked up on that.

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