How Important Is It For Politicians To Have Empathy?

In a time of terrorist attacks, escalating racial tensions and violence, and outward bigotry against entire religious groups, it may seem like we need empathetic world leaders now more than ever. 

But although voters seem to praise presidential candidates who expresses concern for others, this support doesn’t always come through on Election Day. 

Empathy doesn’t seem to matter a whole lot at the polls, The New York Times pointed out this week. It’s not uncommon for the candidate who voters believe cares more “about the needs and problems of people like you” to lose, the Times noted, adding that it’s possible voters believe “empathy may not be such a great quality in a leader.”

This certainly feels relevant in explaining the rise of Donald Trump, who is the Republican front-runner despite his incessant insults, lies, misogyny, racism and relentless self-aggrandizing. It’s hard to imagine a candidate with less empathy. 

 

Carolyn Gregoire Senior Writer, The Huffington Po