Democrats often accuse Republicans of lacking empathy – of not being able to make decisions based upon walking a few steps in another person’s shoes. In an interview with Politico, soon-to-be retiring Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) gave even more credence to that perception when he said that he won’t support same-sex marriage because, “I’m not gay, so I’m not going to marry one.”
Despite the fact that the public is beginning to overwhelmingly back marriage equality, GOP lawmakers are very slow to catch up. The few that are becoming accepting, like Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) are often prodded along by gay family members.
Even the conservative American Spectator lamented after the election that the problem with Republicans might not be that they lack empathy, but that they lack the appearance of empathy.
There has been a lot of discussion since Election Day about what went wrong for Republicans, and what they need to do to win again in the future. In my view, Republicans’ challenge is captured in one word: empathy, the act of understanding and being sensitive to the feelings and experiences of others.
Mitt Romney brought many qualities to the campaign. He exuded competence and had a keen grasp of the issues and a plausible plan to fix the nation’s problems. He had a proven record of business accomplishment and had shown the ability to bring disparate political factions together. One quality that eluded him was empathy.
Of course, it wasn’t just Romney but the entire Republican Party that suffered from an empathy deficit. At pivotal moments throughout the campaign Republicans came across as uncaring and insensitive. Many of those moments came during the Republican primaries, just as voters were getting their first glimpses of the candidates.
On September 7, 2011, Republican debate audience members cheered when Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he had “never struggled” with the idea that one of his state’s record 234 executed death row inmates might have been innocent.
Here’s the full article.
While the Spectator naturally empathizes with its conservative brethren, it’s tough to believe that the GOP empathy problem is just a communication problem. A person either has empathy, or they don’t. If they do, why would they try to hide it (unless of course, they are trying to get the votes of millions of un-empathetic Republican voters)? If they don’t have empathy, unless they are complete psychopaths, it’s pretty hard to fake.
Lack of empathy may even be a requirement for today’s Republican party – a party whose platform consists of:
- Blocking civil rights
- Cutting taxes on people like them
- Driving minimum wages as far south as possible while driving top wages sky high
- Cutting nearly all government services
- And guns, guns, guns and more guns – no matter the death toll
With the human suffering they leave in their wake, a truly empathetic lawmaker would have trouble not reaching for one of those guns and turning it on himself.
Martin Bashir and Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) explain it well in talking about the debt ceiling negotiations. Here’s the video:
|Wendy Gittleson grew up in a political family. Her passion is for social justice and fairness. She is the Senior Editor for Addicting Info. She lives in a union household. In her rare downtime, you’ll find her hiking or exploring the shoreline with her dogs. Follow her on her Facebook page or on Twitter, @wendygittleson|