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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015

It all comes down to empathy

Guest columnist


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Discounting the political ignoramuses, blowhards and self-promoters there are some very smart people on both sides of the political aisle who arrive at very different conclusions based on the same set of facts. So what is the philosophical singularity that separates liberals from many conservatives? I believe it's empathy.

Conservatives seem to have understood this for years, ridiculing liberals as "bleeding hearts" and "sob sisters." I'm not sure what's exactly wrong with trying to comprehend and sympathize with other peoples' plights, but evidently it has no place in the conservative pantheon. Conservatives say they empathize, but it's only for people like themselves so that really doesn't count. That's more like boosterism.

The immigration debate is a perfect example. Most Republicans exhibited no evidence of compassion for the 11 million undocumented immigrants until they cynically determined it was in their interest, if not their very survival, to do something about them.

Just because they've been labeled "illegal" doesn't change the fact they're human beings here to find a better life for their family just like every immigrant before them. And besides we're more than happy to entice them here to work for us on the cheap, so don't we have as much do with their illegality as they do?

Similarly, in the debate over same sex marriage two high-profile conservatives who have endorsed it are former VP Dick Cheney and Sen. Rob Portman. No concern for other people's kids, but let their own adult children declare they're gay and suddenly they're for it. That's the difference between egocentrism and empathy.

Conservatives' feigned outrage over the possibility of voting fraud demonstrates not only a cynical power grab but also a lack of empathy for the disadvantaged. Their voter ID requirements are clearly intended to suppress the votes of minority, low-income, transient and young citizens - and now in Texas, women - who tend to vote Democratic.

Political machinations aside, however, conservatives show no understanding for the hardship these folks must endure to get documentation. They're not like you and me.

Day workers don't get to take off a couple hours to go register. Many poor elderly never had birth certificates.

Impoverished moms don't have daycare or transportation so they can drop-off the kids and skip over to county hall.

Poor folks can't afford the extra bus trips to get to the elections office. And students are, well, students.

Equating ID requirements for credit cards with voting is balderdash. First most of these people don't have credit cards and second credit card fraud actually exists as opposed to voting fraud.

Finally Mitt Romney's 47 percent statement: Instead of Romney and conservatives acknowledging these people are in some pretty dire circumstances - 90 percent of them are seniors on fixed incomes, disabled vets, the under- and unemployed, the working poor, single moms, disadvantaged college students and other Americans legitimately struggling to make ends meet - they deride them as "takers."

Walking in another person's shoes may be too much to expect, but couldn't you at least show some concern when his feet hurt?

Marty Moore is a freelance writer living in Port Richey.

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