Behind every public behavior is an almost infinite amount of information that is completely unknown to the person doing the behaving. Our actions derive from decisions made at the subconscious level the instant before the action. Then the explanation comes after the behavior, designed to fit into the current context and made to seem justifiable for the circumstances. Don't take my word for it, do the research yourself.
So how is it that we can assess another person's behavior and explain their motivations, if we can't even explain our own? But somehow, we think we know another person is a racist, or a sexist, or you name it.
Yes, past actions are a pretty good predictor of future behavior but there is no way to account for variations in circumstances. And circumstances are as big a part of behavior as is the personality of the individual.
Let's use a scientific formula to be clear. To attempt to predict the future of anything we must define the initial conditions, the boundary conditions and apply an entailing law. Stuart Kaufman complex systems researcher and Joseph Traub, professor of computer science at Columbia University, point out we have no mathematical model, nor can we simulate a system without knowing its boundary conditions.
In personality theory, boundary conditions are the circumstances a person finds him/herself in as they subconsciously decide what action to take. Not knowing what the circumstances will be, we cannot calculate an entailing law (e.g. "he always does this") consequently we cannot accurately predict human behavior. The best we can do is estimate probabilities based on past history.
But what about the idea that an adult criminal starts doing criminal acts in childhood? Two points here: One, we're talking about normal healthy personalities. Two, even those of us who have healthy personalities can be driven to the point of committing horrible acts. As an example, think about war and how a normal young person can be trained to kill people when they wouldn't dream of it in normal circumstances. Think of how they come home with PTSD and some commit suicide. Not so much because what they've seen, but because of what they've done.
For some reason, the American mind seems to be oblivious to systems thinking, i.e., how the many systems within which we live affect our actions. This gives us an impoverished model to predict how a politician will act in the future. We cannot only consider the individual and not the circumstances within which that person behaved in the past. We do so at our own peril.
And I'm not only referring to those whom we don't like, but also those we do. Promises made on the campaign trail are generally devoid of consideration for the circumstances that will follow if the candidate is elected. But there are some predictable systems indicators.
The political scene in United States today is a toxic brew of might is right, a meanness born of self-pity, unfocused anger at the system, and psychological mayhem. My question is who is best suited to do battle in these circumstances?
I didn't think I'd ever say this but let's take a page out of the Evangelical playbook. They've canonized the monster in the White House, not because of who he is but because they believe he will bring them the future they fantasize. He's the warrior with the character flaws but he gets things done according to their world view.
While we look for the candidate who is the paragon of ideological purity and moral virtue, they're destroying the country.