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Profiling for the Big Debate About Government's Role

By       Message Thomas Farrell       (Page 1 of 5 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

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Duluth , Minnesota (OpEdNews) January 24, 2013 : In his first inaugural address, President Ronald Reagan declared that government is the problem. He thereby gave voice to right-wing paranoia about government since FDR's New Deal, JFK's New Frontier, and LBJ's Great Society. However, in his second inaugural address, President Barack Obama has now answered Reagan in no uncertain terms by unabashedly defending the role of government. So the debate has now been joined.

 

Reagan fans tried mightily to defeat President Obama in his bid for re-election in 2012, but he won decisively. In his recent inaugural address, President Obama has in effect challenged Reagan fans to a debate. The debate centers on Reagan's claim that government is the problem versus Obama's claim that government has a crucial role to play in helping us to advance our American ideals.

 

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As this debate about the role goes forward, it might help us to understand the people engaged in the debate -- the anti-government Reagan fans and the pro-government Obama fans. For this reason, I want to profile the typical Reagan fans and the typical Obama fans by drawing on the conceptual framework that the Jungian theorist Robert Moore of Chicago Theological Seminary has worked up, including material he has borrowed from Theodore Millon.

 

Millon refers to four dimensions of interpersonal coping strategies as involving (I) independence, (II) ambivalence, (III) detachment, and (IV) dependence. In addition, he refers to two dysfunctional forms of each of these as passive and active. So he names and identifies a total of eight dysfunctional forms: (i) passive independence, (ii) active independence, (iii) passive-ambivalence, (iv) active-ambivalence, (v) passive-detachment, (vi) active-detachment, (vii) passive-dependence, and (viii) active-dependence.

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Moore basically borrows all eight dysfunctional forms from Millon but re-names them "shadow" forms. In addition, he aligns them with four archetypes that he refers to with colorful names: Royal (King/Queen), Warrior (masculine and feminine), Magician (masculine and feminine), and Lover (masculine and feminine). So each of Moore 's four colorfully named archetypes has two "shadow" forms. However, he also postulates that there is an optimal form of each of the four archetypes of maturity, as he styles them.

 

Writing in the American jeremiad tradition, Moore challenges men today to learn how to embody the optimal forms of the archetypes of maturity. However, it is far easier to aspire to embody the optimal forms than it is to learn how to embody them. But in his estimate all too few men today embody the optimal forms, just as all too women do. For this reason, I feel comfortable in saying that the "shadow" forms characterize the typical Reagan fan and the typical Obama fan.

 

Frankly, I wish that Moore had simply borrowed Millon's four terms but re-named them archetypes: (I) the Independence archetype, (II) the ambivalence archetype, (III) the detachment archetype, and (IV) the dependence archetype. Had Moore done this, he could have also borrowed Millon's way of referring to the eight dysfunctional forms. But Moore could have re-named them "shadow" forms as a way to pay tribute to Carl Jung's work about the Shadow that we all carry around within our psyches.

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Nevertheless, Moore does provide some further specifications that I can use to work up my profiles of the typical Reagan fans versus the typical Obama fans.

 

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)
 

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