Politicians need to feel for those they don’t know

By Paul Sassone

Paul Sassone

It was a touching moment.

President Donald Trump was visiting a shelter for victims of Hurricane Harvey. The President moved along shaking hands and offering sympathy and encouragement. He spied a little girl, picked her up, hugged her and kissed her on the cheek.

It was an affecting and genuine moment, somewhat surprising for a man whose every action and utterance often seems as if he is watching himself in a mirror.

But with that little girl Trump seemed genuinely concerned. He cared about her welfare and wanted her to be healthy, happy and secure.

But even as I was moved I couldn’t help thinking there are millions of other little girls, little American children. And many of them need help and care.

They may not be displaced by a hurricane. But too many of them are poor, hungry, homeless or ill. This President, who shows such compassion for a tiny victim of a hurricane, will not help those other

millions of children. In fact, he is going hurt them more than they already are suffering. He will keep them hungry and poor and homeless and ill. The President will do this with his efforts to cut or drastically reduce federal funds for programs that assist Americans in want and need.

It may not be what President Trump intends, but it is the result.

I’ve always been puzzled by political conservatives. They are not cruel people. They can be generous and giving.

But only to people they know, people they can see and touch.

The President genuinely felt for that child he held at the shelter.

She was there. She was real to him.

The millions of other American kids in need aren’t. They are just numbers, statistics in the way of Trump’s right-wing agenda.

I am convinced that what hampers the conservative mind in dealing with those in need is not cruelty and mean-spiritedness, though there is some of that.

The root problem is that conservatives lack imagination. They can’t feel for people they don’t know. To the conservative mind, the millions of Americans in need and want just aren’t real people who

feel, hope and hurt.

And it is this lack of empathy and imagination that results in political and economic policies that create and perpetuate suffering in our county.

And this is tragic. For being willing to help people you don’t know is the first requisite of an elected official, of a servant of the public.

Caring only for those we know is called a family, not a government.


Politicians need to feel for those they don’t know–