The Empathy Peddlers

By William Voegeli

Compassion is not weakness,” Herbert Humphrey once argued, “and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.” True enough, but here are some other things compassion is not, or at least should not be: a sole basis for policy, a cudgel for browbeating political opponents, or the unique province of the left.

Progressive politicians and their fan base in the media routinely claim moral high ground by casting themselves as allies of the downtrodden and depicting their conservative counterparts as heartless punishers of the wretched.

In Pity Party, the Claremont Institute’s William Voegeli advances a compelling explanation of why and how liberals misunderstand and misapply compassion, of how the grounding of political decisions in empathy poses serious theoretical and practical challenges that have consistently led the country astray, and of how conservatives can nonetheless harness and wield the power of compassion rightly understood.