Conserving Compassion

As a counselor I often joke that I lack compassion, but have plenty of empathy. Now, I have to admit I do have compassion, I just cannot let it get in the way of my doing my job. But that really is a post for another day. But, when it comes to politics, I wonder if compassion is not only advisable, but a requirement. Now, Matthew Yglesias (future conservative) over at Slate, seems to be making the same point.

Remember when Sarah Palin was running for vice president on a platform of tax cuts and reduced spending? But there was one form of domestic social spending she liked to champion? Spending on disabled children? Because she had a disabled child personally? Yet somehow her personal experience with disability didn’t lead her to any conclusions about the millions of mothers simply struggling to raise children in conditions of general poorness. Rob Portman doesn’t have a son with a pre-existing medical condition who’s locked out of the health insurance market. Rob Portman doesn’t have a son engaged in peasant agriculture whose livelihood is likely to be wiped out by climate change. Rob Portman doesn’t have a son who’ll be malnourished if SNAP benefits are cut. So Rob Portman doesn’t care.

He goes on to point out that Rob Portman’s previous position on same-sex marriage “was driven by a lack of compassion and empathy.” If history repeats itself, than we have just come back around to truthfully defining “Conservative Compassion.” That is, conservatives conserve compassion only for their immediate family.