|Government Bureau, by George Tooker (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Either you sympathize with other people.
Or you don't.
That's our entire political moment right now.
The rest, as Hillel said, is commentary.
So here's mine.
The key word in the first sentence is "other." Other people, different from yourself. Because empathizing with yourself and those exactly like you is easy.
Tribalism was fine when humans lived in tribes. Building the modern world required putting aside prejudices and working together. Those who found it within themselves to say, "You know. . . this guy might be black ... but he could actually be a soldier, a professor, a quarterback. Let's give him a try" did better. Societies that made the leap did better.
Lose sympathy and you suffer. Britain fled the European Union because enough Brits were convinced that membership meant a Turk might move in next door and, oh I don't know, do Turkish things. Smoke a hookah. So they blew up their own economy.
We're next. The Republicans are at war with The Other: immigrants, Muslims, gays, Jews, blacks. Anybody who doesn't meet their hidebound notion of what an American should look like.
The truth isn't on their side, so they lie, rationalize and blame-shift, while drumming up bogeymen to distract voters. It's happening in every race. Pick one one:
The 6th District, Republican Rep. Peter Roskam against Democratic newcomer Sean Casten. Once, Roskam would be merely a bland GOP non-entity, endorsed by the NRA, calling climate change "junk science." The usual.
Now the stakes are higher...
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