Why We Need Empathy Under Authoritarianism

Our nation faces a tenuous future, and empathy is becoming an American survival skill. Even if I’m politically active, if I don’t understand the appeal of the candidate I oppose, not just the one I support, I’m not informed. If I were to vote for Trump, why would I? We celebrate America’s diversity. But if we ignore the demands of the frustrated, our diversity may become our biggest threat.

We criticize leaders for not empathizing with constituents. But we also need to encourage ordinary citizens to empathize with each other. Trump’s rise testifies to the power that a massive group of discontented citizens, not just a member of the government, wields in a democracy. Donald Trump ignores and knows little to nothing about the Constitution.


If he became president, he would pose a serious threat to a separation of powers in place since the Founding Fathers. If we don’t empathize with the mosaic of concerns in America, we won’t know how to fix a crumbling society. We may lose the democracy that we cherish.


Donald Trump’s leadership style has drawn comparisons to that of other dictators. If the world is indeed becoming more authoritarian, there is no better time to exercise empathy.


Janet Eom