Obama’s decision to support gay marriage: It’s About the Empathy, Stupid

Barack Obama’s decision to support gay marriage was a rare act of empathy in this presidential election.


..the thing Obama does at his best: He listens. My oracle at Facebook tells me that many of us think that is also precisely the thing Obama does worst—he compromises, triangulates, and negotiates. But perhaps we could at least stipulate that listening to and—yup, I’m saying it—empathizing with people who are very different from you, and rejiggering your views to accommodate them, is a quality we have seen almost none of in this presidential campaign, from either side.


We need to listen to the experiences of others before dismissing them as dangerous, immoral, and wrong. Obama wrote in The Audacity of Hope, that his whole moral code was conditioned on the idea that to be able to empathize with people richer and poorer, more liberal and more conservative, is to be “forced beyond our limited vision.”


By Dahlia Lithwick