What explains Donald Trump and his supporters? It seems that people on the left understand Trump disempathically — to say the least. Perhaps an empathic understanding can help, too.
Nearly everyone on the left and on the right are steeped in the prevailing morality’s instruction to shame people who behave badly. The left’s intolerance of intolerance is one side of what seems a dangerous vicious cycle of hostility that pits nearly half of America against the other half.
But there’s hope.
In December of 2015, in a speech at Georgetown University about what she called “smart power,” Clinton came out in favor of relying at least partly on empathy in relations with our foreign enemies.
Smart power, she said, includes “leaving no one on the sidelines, showing respect even for one’s enemies, trying to understand and insofar as psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view.”
We can hope that she and many on the left also will apply this kind of understanding to their domestic opponents.
By John H. McFadden