Left In Alabama Follow leftinbama on Twitter

Senator Rob Portman's Epiphany Shows The Limits Of Empathy In The GOP

by: countrycat

Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:57:18 AM CDT


When Republicans mocked President Obama for for saying he was looking for "empathy" in a SCOTUS nominee, they had good reason to be worried.  Because when you truly empathize with the situation of another, it's hard to support public policies that hurt that person.

The quality of empathy seems to illustrate a major difference between Democrats and Republicans.  Many in the GOP "see the light" on issues like health care for the disabled, civil liberties, and marriage equality only when those issues directly affect someone close to them.  There's a basic inability to make the leap from caring about someone you know personally to a whole group of strangers who are in the same situation.

Deficit hawk Sarah Palin did like some government spending:

Ms. Palin’s first policy speech as a vice-presidential nominee addressed school financing for special-needs children. She promised that under a McCain-Palin administration disabled students would have the option of attending private schools at public expense. As governor of Alaska, Ms. Palin increased financing for special-needs students, signing a bill that promised to triple per-pupil spending over three years for those students whose educations cost more.

Of course even person-to-person empathy has its limits in some: the shooting of colleague Congresswoman Gabby Giffords didn't move former Senator Scott Brown on federal gun legislation.  It took the murder of 20 first graders to make him re-think his position.

Our latest example of newly-discovered Republican empathy happened yesterday when Ohio Senator Rob Portman announced he was changing his position on marriage equality:

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), once a staunch opponent of gay marriage, says that he now supports same-sex nuptials after his son told him he was gay.
[...]
He also said: “It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective, and that’s of a Dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have — to have a relationship like Jane and I have had for over 26 years.”

 
Senator Portman wasn't worried about GLBT couples having the "same opportunities" in 1996, when he co-sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act. Last year, he voted to strip protections for the GLBT community from VAWA.
 
No. It took knowing someone personally and having his family affected by the issue to change Portman's mind.  If another of Portman's children isn't able to buy health insurance  because of a pre-existing condition or loses coverage along with a job, do you think he'll change his views on health care reform?
 
Yes, personal experience affects a person's views on public policy issues, but that simply can't be the only thing that an elected official relies on.  You represent more people than the tight circle of your family and friends and those people matter too.
 
Would Portman have us believe that no gay couples contacted him during his crusade for DOMA?  No GLBT couple shared their pain at being treated like second-class citizens who are denied pension benefits, family health care coverage, the ability to adopt children, and even basic personal safety & freedom from bullying and gay bashing? 
 
Why did those families count less than Portman's own family?
 
There's only one hero in this story and it's Will Portman, who found the courage to come out to a parent who was a leader in the movement to restrict GLBT rights for most of his life.  He's truly a courageous young man.  His father?  Not so much.
 
 
countrycat :: Senator Rob Portman's Epiphany Shows The Limits Of Empathy In The GOP
Tags: , , , , , , (All Tags)
Print Friendly View Send As Email
Share |

My biggest gripe? (4.00 / 1)

While I'm pleased that Portman has changed his stance on marriage equality, what I have to wonder is why did it actually take him so long to do so?  From every article I've read on Portman's "sudden" switch, he said that his son came out to him TWO YEARS AGO.  He even said that, when he was being vetted to be Romney's VP, that he told the Romney people (and perhaps Romney himself) that his son was gay.

So.  Why then DID he vote against LGBT protections from VAWA if he knew his son was gay at the time he cast his vote?  What happened in the last few days that --SUDDENLY-- caused him to understand that LGBT folks aren't just some hypothetical "thing" and are real people?



all great questions (0.00 / 0)
While I welcome his vote on marriage equality, it wasn't exactly a moment worthy of "Profiles in Courage."

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith




[ Parent ]
As a LGBT person of color... (0.00 / 0)

*CRICKETS* @ Rob Portman's "change of heart" if you want to call it that.  

He is a devoid of humanity in my opinion because this guy doesn't care about LGBTs.  He was probably afraid he was going to lose one of his children due to astrangement, thus it was politically calculated and disingenuous at the very least.  People like that aren't allies nor even worthy of association or anything.  You act as if they haven't said a thing because the damage is done because DOMA is on the books and VAWA along with new protections had to be passed in the most unorthodox way.  

Sorry, but no bueno on respect or some type of change of accolade from me.  After witnessing how much of a dick Cheney is towards LGBTs although one of his daughters is a lesbian.  Nope... 



"Hypocrites are those whom pick and choose prejudices while giving accolades for their own..."

"It is what it is."  

http://blkindependent.blogspot...


confused (0.00 / 0)

You act as if they haven't said a thing because the damage is done because DOMA is on the books and VAWA along with new protections had to be passed in the most unorthodox way. 

I'm assuming it's Portman, because I want to make it clearly understood that I'm not cheering him on, only pointing out that this change of attitude is symptomatic of what's wrong with much of the GOP.  :-)



"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith




[ Parent ]
I'm referencing Portman, not you Countrycat (4.00 / 1)


"Hypocrites are those whom pick and choose prejudices while giving accolades for their own..."

"It is what it is."  

http://blkindependent.blogspot...


[ Parent ]
thought so , but just making sure! (0.00 / 0)
That's the downside of online communication.  It's never really clear until you ask.....  :-)

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith




[ Parent ]

 

PREMIUM AD

blog advertising is good for you

 

Be part of the state's largest & fastest growing Democratic grassroots organization. To receive our newsletter, text OTMDEMS to 22828. Follow us on Facebook.

 

SEARCH




Advanced Search



A community blog for progressive politics, ideas and current events in Alabama. Register now to join the conversation.


Friend and Follow Left In Alabama:

Join LIA's Facebook Page Go To LIA's Twitter Page Go To LIA's Flickr Photo Album Go To LIA's YouTube channel

MENU
- Mobile

Make a New Account

Username:

Password:



Forget your username or password?


LiA Contributors
- Admin
- Admin
- Economics & Aeronautics
- National Political Issues
- Political Strategy & Messaging
- Health Care
- Education in the Black Belt
- ADP Watch
- Climate & Alternative Energy
- Labor
- Alabama Legal Issues
- From the Center
- Equal Rights & GLBT Issues
- Roving Reporter

Please take our Blog Reader Project survey.

Support Left in Alabama with a Donation!

Your Amazon purchases can help fund this blog:
Support Left in Alabama
Buy Phones & More at Amazon Wireless


STANDARD ADS

T.H.E. Social Work Agency
Adoption home studies & care management services in the North Alabama area.
Licensed, certified, caring social workers.


blog advertising is good for you


ALABAMA BLOGS
Bessemer Opinions
Decaturish
Birmingham Blues
Birmingham Science Examiner
freeThinkBham
Greg Varner's Blog
The Haze Filter
Hard Boiled Dreams of the World
King Cockfight
Legal Schnauzer
Loretta Nall
OsborneInk
Peace Takes Courage
Pippa Abston's Blog
TJ Beitel
Thoughts & Rants of an Independent
Time is Spherical, Not Linear
WriteChic Press

ALABAMA RESOURCES
ACLU of Alabama
Alabama Arise
Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform
Alabama Conservationist
Alabama Democratic Conference
Alabama Democratic Party
Alabama Legislature
Alabama Poverty Project
Alabama Secretary of State's Office
Encyclopedia of Alabama
Equality Alabama
Greater Birmingham Ministries
League of Women Voters of Alabama
Madison County Democrats
Marshall County Democrats
Over the Mountain Democrats
Alabama Political Reporter

SOUTHERN BLOGS
Blog for Democracy
Blue Oklahoma
Burnt Orange Report
Daily Kingfish
Facing South
KnoxViews
The Old Black Church
plezWorld
West Virginia Blue
Juanita Jean - Texas

RESOURCES
Racetracker
Anzalone Liszt Research
Center for American Progress
FEC Electronic Report Retrieval
Follow the Money
In Their Boots
New Organizing Institute
Opensecrets
Pew Research Center
Pollster
Progressive States Network
Stateline
The Contributor

Subscribe

 Subscribe in a reader

Add to My AOL

Powered by FeedBurner


Powered by: SoapBlox