Politics and Empathy

Tom Bissell is one of my favorite writers. In his recent career he’s written a lot about video games, but for the election Yahoo! News has given him some space to pontificate about politics.

It’s great stuff, and a nice way of taking a step back from it all. His most recent post is about human tragedy and the presidency. The best quote by far from the piece,

“This stuff never made me like or admire Bush, but it certainly–and usefully–kept me from hating him. There is nothing so poisonous to the tree of antipathy than an honest effort to imagine the how and why of another human being. Except for Dick Cheney, since I fail to see how understanding the mindset of the alien Skrull race who carved him from space rocks and rocketed him to planet Earth would in any way enrich my understanding of the former vice president.”

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4 thoughts on “Politics and Empathy

  1. ” I will go out on a limb and say that Bush Derangement Syndrome is to Obama Derangement Syndrome what a sore throat is to the Ebola virus.”

    I guess if you stayed in a nice echo chamber from 2000 to 2008, you could conceivably think that.

    “To my conservative pals: That people change or modulate their speaking style depending on the audience and occasion is…”

    is, when conservatives do it, considered racist/classist/patronizing/badbellyfeelword.

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  2. Good link. Without specifically getting into whether ODS or BDS is worse, it is a very unfortunate fact of our political culture that libs in general have given themselves very cheaply to raw hatred for conservatives, Republicans, and even apolitical people who in some circumstance happen to be thwarting their political aspirations.

    This poisons our culture and eats away at the fabric of trust we all use and need.

    This is why, for me at least, the margin of victory that Romney wins by (if in fact he wins) is critically important. America will be able to dial down the trauma in the aftermath of the election much better if Governor Romney wins by 55-44 than if it’s 51-48.

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  3. Ethan,

    I just got around to reading this article, and I like it a lot.

    To state things indirectly and without disclosing more than I’m comfortable disclosing, I’ll just say I’m not unfamiliar with the sentiment behind the phenomenon that Bissell mentioned, about his fellow liberals hoping the surge would not work and what not working would mean in practice. To the degree I am familiar, I regret it very much, and Bissell’s article reminds me why.

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