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Republicans are perceived as uncaring and aloof. That obviously has to change.
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What’s more, Democrats too often exploit their perceived empathy edge for crass political gain, as when Obama suggested that Romney would achieve his goal of self-deportation by “making life so miserable on folks that they’ll leave.”
It was a mischaracterization, but one that stuck, because it fit the narrative of Romney as an unfeeling plutocrat who cares only about people like himself.
But Republicans don’t do themselves any favors. Former vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan believes individual initiative and self-reliance are important values, and they are. In Ryan’s “makers versus takers” philosophy, need, weakness, and dependency constitute threats to America.
But many people who need help struggle through little or no fault of their own. Weakness is usually a reality that people do not choose. Receiving help can be a sign of humility, a moral virtue.
Obama has written that empathy “is at the heart of my moral code.” He creates solidarity with struggling college graduates by telling them that he and Michelle spent years paying off student loans.
Empathy animated Obama’s first term choices. He regularly referred to empathy and fairness when talking about the qualities he looks for in judicial appointments. He once said that he would appoint justices to the Supreme Court who have the “empathy…to understand what’s it’s like to be poor, or African American, or gay or disabled or old.”
He talked about passing Obamacare to help the 50 million uninsured Americans, and urged the Supreme Court not to neglect the “human element” when deciding how to rule on the law.
Empathy is essential for any president. Bill Clinton told unemployed Americans that he felt their pain, and George W. Bush got elected by stressing a compassionate conservatism that combined personal responsibility with government spending for social programs.
Republicans don’t need to revert to the big government policies of the Bush era. But as they begin to plan their comeback, they must first acknowledge the crucial role empathy plays in politics, and the crucial role empathy can play in making others feel welcome in their party.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?