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Only it's not the kind of deficit you might think.

The deficit I am talking about is one of empathy.

When politicians refuse to extend unemployment benefits to good people in bad times, we have a deficit of empathy.

When people stand up in town hall meetings on health care reform and scream "Let them die" in reference to their countrymen, we have a deficit of empathy.

When men shout down women's shared expressions of grief and fear in the wake of misogynistic horror, we have a deficit of empathy.

When governors turn away health care access for the people in their state so they don't cheese off the Club For Growth, we have a deficit of empathy.

When the National Rifle Association's response to every mass shooting is to shout down victims' families who dare question the role of guns in our society in favor of prescribing more guns, we have a deficit of empathy.

But these are easy examples to cite because of who I am, and what I value. My empathy for the innocent victims of conservative government is cheap. To the extent that it permeates my comments and diaries here, it yields me recs and other forms of validation that serve to reinforce my biases.

I try to be bubble-conscious. There are so many bubbles. There are content bubbles, social media bubbles, activist bubbles, professional bubbles and more - all carefully micro-targeted and quite comfortable to inhabit. These bubbles are not particularly conducive to real empathy, which is empathy for others who do not share your views or circumstance.

Some of you will probably suggest that it isn't worth trying to understand the right. Some of you will probably suggest that we already understand what we need to understand, and that what we really need to do is fight harder. That has been my impulse too.

But in recent years, I have been forced to listen to and to try to understand the other side, because my parents have been swept into bubbles of their own (thanks for this, Fox News), and I can't disown them.

I don't want to pretend that I understand the conservative electorate any better as a result, but having spent time listening, I do feel that I know what motivates them. They are afraid. They are deeply afraid. Specifically, they are afraid of the velocity and the seemingly all-encompassing nature of change.

As you start to unpack that fear, what you find is irrational bogeymen like Bitcoin, legal weed overdoses, and death panels. Those things aren't real, but change is very real. Very little about the way that human beings interact with one another or collect information about the world around them is as it was 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago. One of the only things that hasn't changed much is 24 hour cable news. If we are empathetic, it should not surprise us that Fox News gives people "of a certain generation" comfort. It invites them to process their non-specific and free-floating fear (which feels like a loss of control) into specific targets for rage and vitriol (which feels like taking control back).

Much of our opposition in both the electorate and the political class is stuck in a feedback loop. They quite literally can't perceive another way. They certainly do not perceive that on the other end of the political spectrum are good faith Americans hoping to find common ground and make compromise. Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, Breitbart, and the rest of the right wing media machine will never let them imagine reconciliation with the left, because their fortunes are too entwined with division.

Once again, and as usual, this leaves human beings standing face to face as our last and best hope. If we cannot resolve to understand each other more deeply, even those whose words and actions turn our stomach, we will remain a divided nation.

Originally posted to The Termite on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:52 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  There are certain Democrats as well as Republicans (6+ / 0-)

    in office, lacking empathy.
    You cannot have empathy if you have no soul.
    If your soul belongs to a group that espouses hate, so will you. Rich people in this world only believe there are 1000 other souls on the planet with them and they have purchased those.
    There's our empathy, if we are looking for any.

    "If you tell the truth, you won't have to remember anything", Mark Twain

    by Cruzankenny on Tue May 27, 2014 at 10:03:49 AM PDT

    •  Here's an example (10+ / 0-)

      "Rich people believe that..."

      And then you proceed to ascribe an evil world view.

      I know some rich people. They are not monolithic. I know a few who are as liberal as you or I.

      But you've made up your mind about the lot. I think you disagree with the premise here.

      Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

      by The Termite on Tue May 27, 2014 at 10:06:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  From one answer you have devined my worldview (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        linkage, waterstreet2013, shaharazade

        That takes talent.
        I never meant to include every rich person as some monolithic being and maybe you win as knowing these Rich Liberals.
        Name the liberal opposition to the Koch Brothers? Darrel Issa? The Bushes or the Romneys?
        The only rich people I care to write of, have a world view with an extreme lack of empathy for those less fortunate.
        I did not join the Daily Kos to defend conservative rich people, or for that matter, I didn't join to have to defend my viewpoint of the Koch Brothers, Uncle John's Pizza or any of their ilk.

        "If you tell the truth, you won't have to remember anything", Mark Twain

        by Cruzankenny on Tue May 27, 2014 at 01:20:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I didn't mischaracterize what you said (5+ / 0-)

          I didn't ask you to defend rich people, the Koch's, or "Uncle John's Pizza" either.

          All I did was write a diary that suggests we could use more empathy. It seems to me that you disagree. That's your prerogative.

          Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

          by The Termite on Tue May 27, 2014 at 02:36:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I, too feel there is more need for empathy and (4+ / 0-)

            am sorry if it appears I don't. Some things are worth less empathy at first glance and maybe I should examine who, why and what makes me decide to empathize.

            "If you tell the truth, you won't have to remember anything", Mark Twain

            by Cruzankenny on Tue May 27, 2014 at 04:13:13 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The key to empathy is to empathize with (0+ / 0-)

              someone that is different than you and my guess is that the wealthy and conservative are different than you. Give it a try.

              •  Conservatism is something I am familiar with (0+ / 0-)

                and when someone is ensconced and secure because of a trust fund and lives on the dividends, yet spends time and money trying to deny others a piece of assurance, I can't empathize.
                Whether you're denying a sense of assurance job wise in the form of disliking Unions or health wise in the matter of affordable health care, I can sympathize with that person, but empathy is not possible.
                Does anyone realize the median/middle class income of $35,000.00 has the same purchase power as $5,000.00 in the year 1960? So when someone is told they need to tighten there belt and manage their money better, I ask, "What money". After you are done paying for necessities.
                Just as I don't let assholes rent space in my head, I'm afraid I will never empathize with a heavily armed man pepper spraying seated students or those who take longer than 5 minutes to lock them up.

                Why is it I'm not supposed to know or empathize with rich people. Is it because I'm a Virgin Islander?
                Heck, some of my best friends are rich, or at least they tell me so when they talk about their latest trip to St. Bart's or whatever other new spot they've found before the rif-raf did.
                I'm joking, they aren't my best friends, it's because there are only so many good tennis players on these little islands...

                "If you tell the truth, you won't have to remember anything", Mark Twain

                by Cruzankenny on Wed May 28, 2014 at 10:31:29 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  No-no-no. What we have is a shortage of sociopaths (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              thanatokephaloides

              and the occasional necessary psychopath when protecting Goldman, Sachs and Friends requires it.

              NRA is running a War On America and that's O.K. Man up. Grow a pair.

              Screw Medicaid Expansion. Screw 47% useless unemployment-scamming layabouts.

              And mass killing are good for circulation and page hits, baby. How else you going to push advertising?

              Same for a little war now and then. Support the troops. Put your flags out for M-Day and 4th of July. Fxck Snowden back door. "That's what a patriot would do!" in the words of 2014 John "McCain" Kerry.

              Gimme an "S" !!! Gimme an "O" !! Gimme a "C" !! ...etc.

              "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- after Paul "False Prophet" Ryan

              by waterstreet2013 on Wed May 28, 2014 at 04:23:36 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Unfortunately, Rich People ARE less empathic (0+ / 0-)

        ….to the needs of everyone else.  It has been demonstrated in opinion polls in which the wealthiest 1% are FAR less concerned about those who are poor, struggling and barely getting by.   One poll quoted on this very blog illustrates this unfortunate reality:

         http://www.dailykos.com/...

        The problem is the 1% runs the country, having dismantled our democracy and economy with their free-wielding, self-serving political spending.  And they clearly have a much more selfish and greed-empowering agenda than when the middle-class and working-class called the shots in the 30's through the 70's.

    •  There is a cruel lack of empathy (9+ / 0-)

      but there is also a cold, hard logic as well.
        It's a flawed logic, but it exists. It's important to understand it.

      "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

      by gjohnsit on Tue May 27, 2014 at 10:55:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Flawed logic example (8+ / 0-)

        Fox News viewers are told all the time that our nation is broke. They're cited specious statistics about the debt, the deficit, the insolvency of Social Security, and so on.

        Once they have internalized that as gospel, all manner of things become "unaffordable."

        There are literally millions of people who don't want unemployment insurance extended because they think it will bankrupt the country (and because they believe our safety net is being abused by scam artists). All nonsense.

        Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

        by The Termite on Tue May 27, 2014 at 11:08:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually I've started writing a diary about this (9+ / 0-)

          I've been putting it off for several weeks, but the time has come.

            They actually have their reasons. They use the best science of the times...19th Century science times.
           The problem is that their science is flawed and has been proven wrong.

          "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

          by gjohnsit on Tue May 27, 2014 at 11:21:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  For example, the mathematics underlying (3+ / 0-)

            the "Austrian School" in economics.

            The original development of these tools came in 1900-1920. Demand curves and models for free markets and such as oligopoly came into the business world as hot stuff.

            But it was always suspect when the early economists tried to push these microeconomic tools to generate broad, societal equilibria models. Economies do not balance out. Demand graphs miss everything that undercuts ordinary exchange markets.

            There is no way to include organized criminality, long term contracts, debt loads, inheritance effects, panics, or the whole range of Black Swan interventions. Big Bubble mortgage explosions and financial criminality are the worst of it.

            We didn't learn how truly bad the "Austrian" approach had been until Dr. Richard Koo published his analysis of Balance Sheet Recessions, 2009, using a full database of a nation's corporate balance sheets (together with the usual government and banking balance sheets.)

            The Holy Grail of Macroeconomics: Lessons from Japan's Great Recession

            Depressions matter. 1929-1932 USA, Japan through the 1990s, then USA again in 2000s. "Austrian" methods fail utterly at understanding what happens here.

            There's a chapter and more on the Bush Recession.

            Same for growth. Robert Solow won his Nobel for developing the fundamental growth model for capitalism. Well, you really want to read this review, maybe two or three times slowly to let it sink in:

            Thomas Piketty Is Right: Everything you need to know about 'Capital in the Twenty-First Century'

            That's Solow's review. The #1 guy on growth in the history of economics. MIT. Math guy from hair to fingernails.

            What the RWNJs like about the Austrians is that they wrapped their graphs in the class-based disdain of Social Darwinism. It's hating the poor that turns them on, when they're not amusing themselves screwing their maids' daughters.

            What they want are slaves.

            Democracy ??? RWNJs hate democracy every bit as much as they hate the poor. Idiots. The same slaver/copperhead megalomaniac lunacies America saw in the 19th Century.

            "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- after Paul "False Prophet" Ryan

            by waterstreet2013 on Wed May 28, 2014 at 05:07:41 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Did I mention David Koch ????? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              thanatokephaloides

              "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- after Paul "False Prophet" Ryan

              by waterstreet2013 on Wed May 28, 2014 at 05:09:14 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Austrian Economics (4+ / 0-)

              From what I've read, Austrian economics has a distinct lack of actual proof behind it.
                What's more, some of the founders of Austrian economics have fascist backgrounds.

               I've learned that if something came from Mises to ignore it.

              "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

              by gjohnsit on Wed May 28, 2014 at 08:13:14 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Austrian paperhangers (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                waterstreet2013
                What's more, some of the founders of Austrian economics have fascist backgrounds.
                A certain Austrian comes readily to mind.

                One who was famous for his really short mustache, among other things. (Good morning, Counselor Godwin!!) And his practice of the Austrian economic model in the only way it was workable: the conquest of other countries and the conversion of those countries' people into slaves.

                "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

                by thanatokephaloides on Wed May 28, 2014 at 10:34:55 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Fascists (2+ / 0-)

                  Mises himself:

                   Mises was chief economist for the Austrian Chamber of Commerce and was an economic adviser of Engelbert Dollfuss, the austrofascist but strongly anti-Nazi Austrian Chancellor
                  So he was fascist in the aristocratic 1% way, not in the populist way.
                  Marxists Herbert Marcuse and Perry Anderson, as well as German writer Claus-Dieter Krohn, criticized Mises for writing approvingly of Italian fascism, especially for its suppression of leftist elements.
                    It's amazing how the libertarians love the Austrian School, but also love dictators
                   Friedrich von Hayek, who was, along with von Mises, one of the patron saints of modern libertarianism, was as infatuated with the Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet as von Mises was with Mussolin

                  "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

                  by gjohnsit on Wed May 28, 2014 at 10:46:38 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Fantastic comment. You should publish this comment (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              The Termite

              as a diary. Not much else needed really. It's already full of links.

              Maybe a nice picture.  :-)

              "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

              by YucatanMan on Thu May 29, 2014 at 07:46:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  But if you only listen to Fox News, as (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            The Termite, thanatokephaloides

            my sister does, you will never know "the science is flawed and has been proven wrong."  

            I lived with her for a while.  The steady diet of information that's just slightly tilted is damaging to the soul.  At least it was to mine.  And if she's an example of the right wing that hates liberals and doesn't trust any other news than Fox, that's all their diet consists of.

            The GOP will destroy anything they can't own.

            by AnnieR on Wed May 28, 2014 at 06:27:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  A narrow percentage of Americans has any idea... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              thanatokephaloides, AnnieR

              ...what science is in the first place.

              If you asked most adults to define it, they would give you examples about the frontiers of human advancement, like: "It's about space and computers and cells and stuff." The more pejorative responses would make reference to some sort of community or cabal with some sort of agenda, anti-religious or otherwise.

              I am certain that only a very narrow percentage -- maybe 5%? -- would accurately describe science as a method.

              Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

              by The Termite on Wed May 28, 2014 at 08:39:05 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  serious question (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                The Termite

                re; the willful ignorance often accompanying the fear you cite.
                I struggle with that, because I have always sought understanding through knowledge, and by that I explicitly do NOT mean tribal knowledge. If Keith Olbermann or Markos tells me something I have not yet heard, i am very likely to go research the topic at least enough to see more context than a single POV. When others pretend to be on an adult level in a discussion, but refuse to do this bit of legwork, I cannot give their fever dreams any real credence. Especially when they announce their immunity to any evidence i might offer. When their argument defaults to ad hominem attacks, shouting, or blatant straw men to change the subject, same thing. There is no interest in defining a shared reality in these instances; it is about winning the shouting match, and the rules of those are very different and exceedingly ugly.  

                I can work with the 'rubes' who have been lied to systematically; I am old enough to remember when the TV news was a pretty accurate record of facts and events; but the people who know better, or have every reason to know better, yet prefer being steeped in existential terror over the fact that things change are actively hostile to a pluralistic society. I cannot pretend to relate to people who do that. I have met many.

                Last full month in which the average daily temperature did not exceed twentieth-century norms: 2/1985 - Harper's Index, 2/2013

                by kamarvt on Thu May 29, 2014 at 12:13:46 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  one of the defining characteristics of (7+ / 0-)

      a psychopath is the lack of empathy.  Look up the word "ponerology", which is the study of evil.   Evil is measured by the extent to which the lack of empathy exists in an individual....the less empathy...the more capable of evil, psychopathic, cruel behavior.....  

      That is what we are facing.

      "Fear is the Mind Killer"--Frank Herbert

      by vmm918 on Tue May 27, 2014 at 10:23:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sadly, the change that most frightened many (9+ / 0-)

    came to pass, the election of a non-white male as POTUS, the traditional national father figure.  This has scared the daylights out of so many, created unending self doubt, and rendered them intellectually paralyzed and therefore unable to take even minimal steps to empathize.

    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Tue May 27, 2014 at 10:04:57 AM PDT

  •  Very true. (7+ / 0-)
    They are deeply afraid. Specifically, they are afraid of the velocity and the seemingly all-encompassing nature of change.
    The change is so rapid that some find comfort from old reliable stereotypes. This will only get worse and I fear that as I get older and less in-touch with technology and culture that I too may become nostalgic for a less open time.
  •  We are a nation lacking empathy (7+ / 0-)

    because those who have it have allowed those without to gain control. Politics is blood sport and it's time for liberals to fight back with everything we have.

    •  Not all politics is blood sport (5+ / 0-)

      Or at least it shouldn't be.

      The notion that every issue must be a grudge match isn't an idea I'm comfortable with. The notion that there is no common ground -- only bitter division -- isn't either.

      Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

      by The Termite on Tue May 27, 2014 at 10:38:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are seeking the ideal (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        linkage, Shawn87, thanatokephaloides

        which is not the reality we live in today. One party has gone batshit insane and there is absolutely nothing wrong with pointing out that fact. Tough love is what's in order here, not gentle coddling. Even at my meanest I'm never as bad as conservatives because my words are based in reality and not ginned-up fear double wrapped in self-righteous Jesus-based patriotism.

        Just because I'm fed up with the stupidity that has taken control in this country and no longer feel the need to accommodate morons, liars, and the perennially afraid doesn't mean I run around shouting down every conservative I meet. But rest assured if they start in with the tired and typical Fox News/facebook talking points bullshit that is all too prevalent among them I will respond passionately and forcefully with facts, humor, and a healthy dose of mockery and scorn.

        Also, I never said "ALL politics is blood sport" nor did I say "As a rule, politics is blood sport." You're just as guilty in applying the absolutes you decry if you interpret my comment in such a manner without allowing for reasoned exceptions. Whereas I give people the benefit of the doubt and assume that the words "some" or "few" are implied when talking about  groups of people or certain subjects you appear to assume that "all" is what is being implied. My experience has been there are very few absolutists when it comes to discussing these matters and by that I mean I rarely run across anyone claiming that ALL conservatives are batshit insane. Because everyone knows that there are at least four or five who aren't total whackjobs!

      •  The Republican party (5+ / 0-)

        Believes that all politics IS bloodsport. No rule they won't break if they can get away with it. That's where we're at.

        "Because we are all connected...."

        by Shawn87 on Tue May 27, 2014 at 11:53:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  blood sport (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ZhenRen
        Not all politics is blood sport. Or at least it shouldn't be.
        "Should" or not, all politics is blood sport. Always has been, and, by any reasonable lights, always will be.

        That's the nature of the beast with the current form of human society, the state. So long as we require some of us to have power of any kind over any other of us, politics will remain a less-than-zero-sum, winner-take-all blood sport.

        (This little problem is why anarchists are, well, anarchists.)

        The notion that every issue must be a grudge match isn't an idea I'm comfortable with. The notion that there is no common ground -- only bitter division -- isn't either.
        Comfortable or not, these are irremovable operational hazards of any process resulting in any human beings having authority over other human beings. And until we figure out how to live successfully in the absence of hierarchies, every issue will be a grudge match, and there will, in fact, be no common ground between those with power and the vast majority without it.
        The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.
            -- Preamble to the I.W.W. Constitution

        Where the Wobblies say "the working class and the employing class", it is just as reasonable to say "the empowered class and the disempowered majority".

        They mean the same thing.

        "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

        by thanatokephaloides on Wed May 28, 2014 at 11:08:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Capitalism (4+ / 0-)

      The only thing that matters is capital, ie, the people who own capital.  

      I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

      by CFAmick on Tue May 27, 2014 at 11:00:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's important to understand them (9+ / 0-)

    "It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle."
      - Sun Tzu

    "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

    by gjohnsit on Tue May 27, 2014 at 10:52:06 AM PDT

  •  My SIL told me in my turbulent 20s (6+ / 0-)

    when I was frantic about the gate-keepers in my life, "it's about control."  Indeed, she was a control freak herself, and I learned not to trust her.  
    Having control means being able to determine an outcome.  You can not be caring about what is happening to other people when they are in the way of your outcome.  What is that saying about having to break some eggs to make an omelet?  No empathy there.  So, if your outcome is being able to have sex with anyone you want to, you can't be worrying about how they feel about it.  If your goal is to suck up as much money in the U.S. Treasury as you can, you can't be worrying about what's going to happen when that means others don't have enough.  
    I was in a little meeting in a cafe that our Representative, Peter Welch, sponsored, and the requisite tbagger showed up, and said, "the politicians are entitled to do anything they need to do to win."  I asked her if she wanted people in office with no decency, and it did not matter to her.
    What does it mean?  When I have someone from the trades come to give me an estimate on something, they never really figure out formally their labor/material/profit margin.  They just throw out wild numbers, and are really indignant when I question them and negotiate.  They have a goal to meet, and damn me to hell if I am not going to be useful.  I think there are a lot of mythical shoulds out there that can not be sustained, but the steam roller method is supposed to be OK.

  •  Republicans Have Publicly Derided Empathy (11+ / 0-)

    In response to Obama's evoking of "empathy" in considering candidates to replacing David Souter on the Supreme Court, Republicans denounced the very concept of empathy with dripping scorn and contempt.

    Empathy is the very antithesis of the contemporary Republican Party, which requires that its voters reject the very concept of generosity, kindness, selflessness and decency.  In its place, Republicans dish out heaping servings of intolerance, vengeance, paranoia, greed, selfishness, hypocrisy and ethnocentrism.

    Empathy does not permit the unbridled exceptionalism at the heart of the right wing lie - that we are better than everyone else, that we have nothing to learn from anyone, and that our needs supersede everyone else's.

    •  They've derided community organizing, (5+ / 0-)

      empathy, anti-bullying, etc.

      They are a real classy bunch. They have become the stereotypical asshole out of the 80s teen movies.

    •  It may not be as far buried as you think (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thanatokephaloides, ricky63

      They made fun of Clinton when he said "I feel your pain" but that was not long after Bush The First ran for president on the slogan "Toward a kinder and gentler nation."

      Nobody really likes living in a divided nation. Well, maybe a few shitbags, but I do believe that the right leaning electorate is tired of all the pie wars. It's fatiguing. Some sober, calm discussion would be really nice.

      Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

      by The Termite on Wed May 28, 2014 at 08:31:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  really nice (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Termite, ricky63
        Nobody really likes living in a divided nation. Well, maybe a few shitbags, but I do believe that the right leaning electorate is tired of all the pie wars. It's fatiguing. Some sober, calm discussion would be really nice.
        (1) The "few shitbags" currently control the House of (Non-)Representatives and altogether too many State Capitals.

        (2) Some sober, calm discussion would be really nice. But in the mean time, please maintain your oxygen consumption (don't hold your breath). We like having you around. Thank you!

        ;-)

        "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

        by thanatokephaloides on Wed May 28, 2014 at 11:18:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank You ... (3+ / 0-)

    Re-posted to Street Prophets.

    JON

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Tue May 27, 2014 at 08:24:25 PM PDT

  •  Good point: (5+ / 0-)
    "...unpack that fear, what you find is irrational bogeymen like Bitcoin, legal weed overdoses, and death panels. Those things aren't real, but change is very real."
    The GOPer propaganda engine borrowed over tactics from financial scammers: the Straight Line Persuasion System. Keep it simple, use repetition, loop objections back to belief, and always aim to generating Faith.

    Selling fear works like a charm. Go in the tank for one believable fantasy, they've got dozens more behind it. "Born in Kenya" and "Death Panels" are utterly unbelievable, so their "The Base" voters took 'em in as tests of Faith.

    If it's not real, it's a matter of Faith !!

    "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- after Paul "False Prophet" Ryan

    by waterstreet2013 on Wed May 28, 2014 at 05:38:57 AM PDT

  •  drugs and the elderly (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Termite, thanatokephaloides, melo

    I have no medical expertise and go to WebMD.com for my info.  And, I wonder if some of this

    "non-specific and free-floating fear (which feels like a loss of control)"
    is a side effect of good and necessary drugs for conditions such as high blood pressure or digestive troubles which are common among boomers.   These are life saving drugs, that can have negative side effects.  

    As I read your blog, I wondered what the social affects of having a large number of people, who need these drugs.

    Great diary, The Termite.

  •  These people (Fox News heads) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Termite, thanatokephaloides

    are neither particularly curious nor particularly self-aware.

    They're in a minority, fortunately.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Wed May 28, 2014 at 10:35:11 AM PDT

  •  Greed trumps Empathy (0+ / 0-)

    Greed trumps empathy every time.  Who really believes that money doesnt buy happiness?  The wealthy have it.  The poor believe that they can get it.  We can all be magnanimous once we have our yacht and our mansion so we will just wait until then.  Like Scrooge, our concern for our fellow man have all been replaced with a golden idol.  Dont believe me? Spend an hour on cable TV or the commercial radio stations.  How much air time is dedicated to selling you something?  OUr every waking moment today is filled with the many many options you have to PURCHASE!  And with each purchase we step closer to that state of nirvana - where we are the people we dream of.  The toothpaste that will get you the girlfriend of your dreams, you smell great you look great, you have a carrot dicer to will give you the kitchen skills of Rachel Ray. We take vacations to exotic locals that give us ever greater access to shop. The mall, the sponsors of your kids little league team, the corporate support of your kids school. NOTHING happens in this country until something is sold - until eventually that thing is our very soul.

    And what about the moral systems of checks and balances?  Our churches our synagogues our mosques?  The Holy writings that warn us of placing too much value on the material?  Well they stand in the way of progressive selling - so they must be corrupted as well.  How much money does Pat Robison pull in?  

    It has all been nicely done.  Control of the masses - not through religious conversion - but through the illusion of buying and selling everything.  To own for the sake of owning.  There is nearly nothing that can be had today that doesnt make some sort of profit for a very few people - and a very great number of people seek to be in that number.

    I had an interesting talk with a neighbor recently about Walmart missing their earnings expectations.  He blamed is squarely on ObamaCare!  Why?  Because the average Walmart shopper is a person that didnt used to carry health insurance - they had no access to health care.  Now that they are spending money on health care - that leaves less for Walmarts coffers - according to him.  Also according to him, this is a BAD thing! Anyone with empathy should see the flaw in this logic.

    Greed always trumps empathy

    •  I could cite you 100 examples... (0+ / 0-)

      ...of people who put empathy before gain.

      I know people working for non-profits at $45-50K a year who could be pulling high six figures, easily.

      I know people in the Peace Corps in Chad.

      I could keep going.

      You can't lose faith in humanity. What you see before your eyes every day and on the television may be saturated with calls to consume and horde, but that doesn't mean everyone thinks that way.

      Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

      by The Termite on Wed May 28, 2014 at 03:08:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  slightly off-topic, but one could cite examples (0+ / 0-)

        of people working for non-profits who ARE pulling in six figures, look into any big city AIDS service provider non-profit for starters. the excuse is always "we have to keep the best people."

        when I first heard the term 'non-profit industrial complex' I was a little skeptical, but have since come to see it as an accurate label. the conversations I've heard with people I know in non-profits sound more like people in political campaigns, the number one issue is funding.

        has it occurred to anyone that the best people would ensure that a larger percentage of donations go directly to providing service? perhaps a minimum guaranteed ratio of salaries to services ought to be required of all non-profits.

        when I see people raising money for long distance bike rides and multi-day walkathons, with their substantial collateral expenses, as well as all the advertising by for-profit healthcare corporations, it feels to me another example of empathy deficit.

        "we're flying high on affluenza, mounting severed servants heads on the credenza" -Sanctuary City of the Rich

        by Xavior Breff on Wed May 28, 2014 at 08:15:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This country hasn't had any empathy (4+ / 0-)

    in 35 years. Empathy goes hand in hand with collective sacrifice. You only learn empathy from the experience of shared loss, otherwise what translates as empathy is sheer voyeurism.  There have been no leaders who have encouraged real empathy or made an attempt to highlight the virtues of pure, selfless compassion in 35 years--and this includes Obama. What we have instead are coded appeals to our own self-interest, with a little "community" thrown in for decoration. And that's from Democrats. Bush II showed us what to expect from Republicans.

    Americans have forgotten how to empathize because they haven't been asked to sacrifice anything in 35 years. Carter was the last one who asked Americans to sacrifice anything.

    I remember very clearly the 180-degree turn we took when Reagan took over--in every aspect of our national identity. We have become a whiny, spoiled lot since then. Tax cuts upon tax cuts, "Greed is good," welfare "reform"--all these myriad efforts to satisfy our endless wants pile up and create a nation of uncaring people only concerned about their own well-being.

    •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dartagnan

      So now what?

      I think I am trying to suggest that to receive empathy we have to learn to give it more abundantly, despite how hurt and angry we are, and despite the fact that it might not pay off instantaneously.

      Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

      by The Termite on Wed May 28, 2014 at 02:58:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  more power to you, however... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        melo, The Termite

        I do recall that my right wing ditto-head brother had a come to Jesus moment for raising county taxes when it affected his children's school system. positing analogies may be too long a leap for scared people invested in their propaganda, but life experience could be ther bridge you're looking for.

        leaving aside the immovable or the snakes in the road, this assumes that those who are tired of the divisiveness want to work together and aren't just waiting for us to give up and see the error of our ways.

        "we're flying high on affluenza, mounting severed servants heads on the credenza" -Sanctuary City of the Rich

        by Xavior Breff on Wed May 28, 2014 at 08:25:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You talk of the lack of empathy of the right (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Termite, andalusi

    what of the left? Plenty to observe right here at DK, no need to travel all the way to Fox or WSJ. One big bundle of left wing hate. Look at the rec list, and often the front page.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Thu May 29, 2014 at 05:40:40 AM PDT

  •  It's all about me man... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Termite

    This will be known as the Age of Materialism.  The age where wealth was more important that consequences.  Material possessions more important that human kindness.  The here and now more important that reason.

    The most un-convincable man is the one whose paycheck depends on remaining unconvinced. -- H. L. Mencken

    by kharma on Thu May 29, 2014 at 07:20:07 AM PDT

  •  The empathy deficit was on display when (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Termite

    the jailers in Florida boiled that prisoner to death with hot water......which goes to show that the United State's tolerance of war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq committed by U.S. troups by failing to prosecute those crimes sends a message to the entire country and its police forces that vicious, torturing conduct by security forces (including military, policy and DHS) has been normalized into acceptable conduct.

  •  Of course we will remain a divided nation. (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe I read too fast, but I sense a false equivalence in your assumption that the left cannot "empathize" with the right. We understand the right mindset quite well. You've described it well yourself. Any person at Daily Kos who is not a troll can describe it.

    The 1% are experts at divide and conquer. We cannot expect to convert Fox watchers to our side. It's an utter waste of time. We can love them as human beings, and we should do so. But the 1% do not want human solidarity. Very few of the right wing are persuadable. The 1% and their mercenaries repress the left viciously in the U.S.  They always have and always will. The occasional "nice liberal" billionaire is wanting thanks for their charity with stolen property.

    Neibuhrian coercion around the world of the capitalist overlords will come, and they will not enjoy it. Too frcking bad. Am I not empathetic enough? I don't feel THEIR goddamn pain. There is a world of pain they are experts at avoiding. High tolerance for other people's pain=capitalism.

    garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

    by Galtisalie on Thu May 29, 2014 at 03:39:28 PM PDT

  •  By the way, what kind of centrist "compromising" (0+ / 0-)

    are you proposing? We've been in 34 years of Republican austerity in the U.S. That's involved way too much compromise. The only "common ground" I seek is for the agenda of the global masses, not the neoliberal agenda that rules our world, in case you didn't notice.

    garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

    by Galtisalie on Thu May 29, 2014 at 03:48:17 PM PDT

    •  Wow, what? (0+ / 0-)

      Seriously?

      Take a deep breath.

      Did you see me saying we need to compromise more?

      That isn't even in the same zip code as the diary topic.

      Oh, wait, you're afraid that if you understand someone better they might be able to con you into whiffing the football?

      I really don't feel I need to restate the premise of the diary for you but here it is anyway: there is no cost and a world of benefit to trying to better understand the thoughts and emotions of someone different than you.

      That's all. Full stop.

      Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

      by The Termite on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:04:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your words. (0+ / 0-)

        You apparently see the need to convince right wingers of your desire for compromise and common ground with them. I was seeking elaboration. You don't want to elaborate. Your choice.

        garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

        by Galtisalie on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:38:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't even understand how you can draw... (0+ / 0-)

          ...that conclusion from what I have written.

          Please excerpt the passage that leads you to believe this.

          Again: this diary is about empathy. I have zero idea why you are trying to use it to paint me as a capitulator.

          Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

          by The Termite on Fri May 30, 2014 at 10:35:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This: (0+ / 0-)

            "good faith Americans hoping to find common ground and make compromise." And tone of last paragraph. But look, I've got Fox-watching parents too. I only wish I could have any kind of conversation with them on a frequent basis. That's different than recommending broader value of empathy to the right.

            I don't know if you're a capitulator or not. This is an attempted Socratic process at the tail end of a long comment thread. I wish you well.

            garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

            by Galtisalie on Fri May 30, 2014 at 12:56:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's frustrating (0+ / 0-)

              Every time you try to challenge yourself or other people to think differently around here, somebody swoops in to question your progressive bona fides.

              You know what a shitty leftist looks like? A shitty leftist is one who only wants to talk to other leftists. Politics is a piece of cake if you don't give a fuck about figuring out a way forward. You can sit around in a circle and nod at each other about what assholes everyone outside the circle are.

              Just as nobody on the right is going to talk me into thinking or acting like a conservative, nobody on the left is going to talk me out of basic human notions of empathy, dialogue, negotiation, connection, and resolution. Perpetual division and recrimination is lazy and pointless. I have no other moral choice but to assume that there is a better way for those willing to open their minds. If this offends your sensibilities that's on you.

              Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

              by The Termite on Fri May 30, 2014 at 01:01:34 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Your mind is not as open as you think it is. (0+ / 0-)

                I questioned you, and you blow me off and talk about how moral you are and how lazy I am. You get the last word. It's your diary.

                garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

                by Galtisalie on Fri May 30, 2014 at 03:04:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  This whole diary emerged from a single thought (0+ / 0-)

                  That thought was, "Am I emphathetic enough?" It was an inward looking rumination on empathy that I chose to share.

                  I am far, far from content about what happens between my own ears. I question everything from my actions all the way down to my intent. That was the actual purpose of this. Any time we talk to another we're talking to ourselves. The nice part about writing down these kinds of thoughts is that it tends to help me remember my resolutions. Not always abide by them, but remember them, and hopefully get better over time.

                  I'm not blowing you off. I have been on this site for almost 10 years, though, and I know a purity ritual when I see one. If you were being honest, you'd admit that you fixated on a few words, chose to neglect the spirit of the diary, and went on a snipe hunt. It's a shame, and in itself an illustration of what I was saying in the comment above. There's probably a sliver of light between my politics and yours, but you chose to make it a chasm.

                  Not on me.

                  Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

                  by The Termite on Fri May 30, 2014 at 03:12:02 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

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