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Hillary, Obama and Abraham

No, not Lincoln. Abraham Maslow. Some of you who took psych in High School or college may recall Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow was the founder of Humanistic psychology and his greatest contribution was the theory of the Hierarchy of Needs. To summarize, humans can not achieve self-actualization or the fulfillment of their human potentials unless their physiological, safety and emotional needs are satisfied first. See the hierarchy below:

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Those of you who might have studied the History and Philosophy of Science may also remember that the ascent of man from nomadic huntsman to farmer was followed by irrigation and the priestly class, charged with watching the stars, recording events, writing, literature, taxation, government and schools of learning. It wasn’t until ancient man was able to park his tent that he was able to take the time to think. When your stomach is full and you are safe from enemies, then you have time to dabble in music. ( A more modern treatment of the ascent of man may be found in the book Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. Highly recommended for a tasty read.)

‘m bringing this up because this is what I think separates Clinton supporters from Obama supporters. Obama supporters are jumping to the top of the pyramid. They are ready for self-actualization and Obama encourages a higher level of thought in them but he skips the stuff below the top. That will require negotiation and further planning.

Hillary voters prefer working our way from the bottom up because we know that unless you stabilize the bottom layers, you can not reach the top. There are no shortcuts.

After Bush, we will be left with a pyramid that will have a bottom layer completely undermined. He and his friends have robbed us of the resources to keep the lower layers stable. And this is where I think Obama supporters are in error. Because once in office, Obama will be so consumed with reinforcing the bottom layers that he may never get to be that inspirational leader of self-actualization. Hillary may never get there either but by the end of her term(s), we will be ready for Obama.

By the way, that doesn’t mean I don’t think Hillary is incapable of bringing us to the top of the pyramid and leading us to greatness. It’s just that realistically, the job this year calls for a worker, an architect, an engineer. Not a dreamer.

John Adams summed it up a little differently but the idea is similar:

“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”

To Adams it was safety and political stability first, followed by ensuring prosperity, followed by the fruits of the mind at leisure.

OK, now I really DO have to work. Ta-ta for now.

5 Responses

  1. I really do agree with you here…

  2. Quaplud: feel free to challenge.

  3. […] Riverdaughter has a great post up about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that is a must read. […]

  4. That is a fantastic analysis! You hit the nail on the head. I studied Maslow 20 years ago and I believe it has been in the background of my thinking ever since. But until you brought this up, I would have never thought of the problem like this. I wish people would realize that a Hillary/Obama ticket (in that order) could sweep the nation and put Democratic values in government for at least 16 years. The foundation work would get done by one while the other would motivate people to participate. And all interest groups would be vindicated in one fell swoop.

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