Alternet / By Alison Rose Levy / Oct. 4, 2012
Do we choose the nice guy with the solid values that we share, or do we choose the primate who beats his chest and displays high testosterone?
Just like in the ads featuring beautiful women, luring consumers to buy products, in this week’s Presidential debate, Mitt Romney pulled out something alluring—testosterone—offering this country a choice with which many women are familiar: Do we choose the nice guy with the solid values that we share, or do we choose the primate who beats his chest and displays high testosterone?
During the debate, while reversing his position on almost everything, and hoping Americans would forget his choice of running mate, Romney set his jaw, puffed his chest, and shouted over the moderator. In contrast, Obama repeatedly looked down, and looked tired. But who wouldn’t? (Note to Dem media advisors: Tell the President to look up and assure that he is positioned to Romney’s left in future debates.) Having pulled this country back from the brink of disaster created by the previous administration, and having fought to get anything done with a Congress more partisan and uncooperative than any in U.S. history, what’s President Obama served for dessert? A buffet of narrow-minded racism. After all of that, and much more, who wouldn’t be tired?
The American people are tired too. Economically strapped, energetically depleted, and psychologically demoralized Americans are at their most vulnerable to a ninety-minute hormonal display because it’s temporarily energizing. But it’s no better solution for this country’s woes than that fourth cup of coffee is for you and me. Why? Because beyond the temporary high, the caffeine batters the adrenals, causing further depletion.
To survive in an economy working against the majority, the dilemma for Americans is this: Should the priority be to improve the economy and make it easier for millions of people? Or should Americans go for the long shot, and play monkey-see, monkey-do by trying desperately to imitate a tiny group of gazillionaires? Acting like a Viagra dose, Romney’s testosterone ploy seduces men into hoping: If this guy can get it up, so can I. And in today’s defeating environment, many men wanly yearn for that punch in the arm.
Testosterone is a turn on, for both men and women, there’s no doubt about it. And there’s also no doubt that the reptilian brain prompts humans to respond viscerally to a hormonal display. This programming is embedded deep in our animal nature. But humans have evolved, and other parts of the human brain can and must dominate the decision-making process. Experience is the best teacher. In the working environment, people know that the guy with the firm handshake who walks on others doesn’t walk on water. In personal relationships, women know that the guy who changes his story, while his actions send contradictory messages, isn’t sufficiently trustworthy as a partner.
When high testosterone comes without the respect, consistency, honesty, and concern foundational to building a real and lasting relationship, it’s tempting but dangerous to give in. Unless people want this country to dive deeper into debt, economic and health decline, and environmental destruction, whenever Romney dangles his testosterone ploy, Americans must just say no. Unless people muster that fortitude, this country will assume a dangerous, supine position. Whatever happens next, won’t be rape because Americans will have asked for it.