Writing in The American Spectator, Daniel Allott argues that in the wake of its recent loss, the GOP should think more soberly about the importance of empathy in democratic politics. Excerpt:
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.
This is just common sense. In his piece, Allott is clear to separate policy from politics. He’s not saying that GOP policies necessarily (important word!) have to change, only that Republicans shouldn’t be surprised if many voters don’t even want to listen to Republicans, given that Republicans dismiss empathy as a rhetorical strategy. I don’t see why this is even controversial — but if you read the comments section under the article, you would think that Stuart Smalley had written the piece. For example:
Teflon93 | 11.29.12 @ 7:43AM
These Blue State pundits sure are big on men acting like women.
Save the empathy. America’s going off the tracks because of the Nanny State; the people are going to need a party steeped in self-reliance and cold, hard logic soon enough.
This is what you call missing the freaking point! As the reader of this blog who sent me the link to the Allott piece writes:
This is a case study in what is becoming the public face of the GOP and conservatism. Yes, this profile is willingly abetted by what many call the mainstream media, but the mainstream media have such a target-rich environment that it’s rather like putting on your camo and going out to shoot your neighbor’s cow.
The comment thread following this article is what too many conservatives sound like. This is actually conservatives talking.
Completely agree. And by the way, I think I can say without compromising this reader’s identity that he is in a senior position at a Washington-based organization representing an industry that Republicans particularly favor. I don’t know what his politics are, but it’s pretty safe to say that it is in his professional interest to see more Republicans elected to national office.
One reason I’m a conservative in my politics is because conservatism represents the unsentimental Daddy side of our politics. My mom would give every penny she had to anyone with a great sob story, because she is just that empathetic and generous. That’s kind, but you can’t live like that. But if daddy is the Great Santini (see clip above), no wonder people don’t want to listen to you.
UPDATE: Seems to me like someone once talked up “a conservatism of the heart.” Hmm…