do republican leaders lack empathy?

Posted: March 22, 2013 in politics, Republicans
Tags: ,

images-45It’s seems to me that Republican leaders tend to only support government action to deal with difficulties that they themselves have experienced.

The most recent example:  Ohio Senator Rob Portman became the most prominent Republican lawmaker to back gay rights when he reversed his opposition to same-sex marriage last Friday, soon after his son told him he was gay.

Cindy McCain, the wife of the Arizona senator, suffers from migraine headaches, which she considers a “disability.”  She is outraged –  outraged! –  that the United States government only spends $13 million annually for medical research on migraines, and wants to increase that amount drastically. She wants a remedy to be found SOON – with federal money.  While sad for her, it’s rather funny in light of her husband’s constant war against Obamacare and any government action to fund research and cures of various medical conditions.  So why  should the big, deficit-ridden government spend millions upon millions more to alleviate Mrs. McCain’s headaches?  Why shouldn’t the migraine sufferers be left to the mercy of the marketplace, where the pharmaceutical manufacturers will take tender care of them?  The market alone won’t provide the necessary scientific effort, as Mrs. McCain perhaps understands — so effective empathy requires federal support.

A few famous examples:  former first lady Nancy Reagan’s crusade for stem-cell research and former Sen. Pete Domenici’s campaign for mental-health insurance fairness. While both were admirable and courageous efforts that resulted in important legislation, they were sharp exceptions to conservative ideology — exceptions grounded strictly in personal misfortune. Only after her husband began to fall to Alzheimer’s disease did Mrs. Reagan perceive the value of the kind of government action they both had spent a lifetime fighting. Suddenly, spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on something other than Star Wars wasn’t such a terrible idea.

As for Domenici, the tragedy that opened his eyes began when his daughter Clare, then in college, started to exhibit symptoms of the schizophrenia that eventually disabled her. That was when the New Mexico senator, often described by the Washington press as “a crusty conservative,” discovered how much of society, including the insurance industry, discriminated against mental patients and their families.

It’s this constricted compassion, these fleeting alliances, that help to explain why we still don’t provide care for all of the vulnerable who need it.  Should there not be a moral imperative that extends beyond you’re own personal situation?  Are Republican leaders able to find this within themselves?

Even the best of today’s Republican leaders seem to lack that quality. Enjoying the ample blessings of the Federal Employee Health Benefits program and access to the best military hospitals, they’re totally insulated from the troubles of those who lack adequate insurance, or any insurance at all.

  1. Torger Helgeland says:

    Mike, did you research all this? Good points, but how do you do it? torg

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