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Arthur Brooks: The Case for “Trait-Trespassing” Politicians

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For years, conservative politicians have been charged with indifference toward the plight of the poor and vulnerable, accused of caring more about hedge fund managers than people who trim hedges.

When pollsters ask questions like “Who cares more about people like you?,” Democrats consistently come out on top.

Most Republicans acknowledge this, but many just shrug, concluding that the way to win is to be redder than red, choosing to emphasize strength and moral uprightness …forget about the soft stuff. Similarly, Democrats fixate on empathy and compassion and neglect the rest.

This explains our current depressing political stalemate.

But Americans don’t want to choose between compassion and morality, or between leadership and empathy. We want leaders who have all these traits … Republicans with genuine empathy and Democrats who extol strong national leadership.

Scrambling the conventional categories would not merely shift electoral dynamics. It would improve our country.

A few more “trait-trespassing” politicians would give all citizens the competition of ideas we deserve.

-Arthur Brooks

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Comments (4)

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  1. Connie  •  Oct 1, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Statistics PROVE that more conservatives & Southerners give MORE to charity than liberals or the NE.
    Republican/conservative policies HELP people get OUT of poverty; the democrat/liberal policies keep people poor – look at the last 50 years of democrat politicians who get the vote of Black folks; they are worse off NOW than 50 years ago as far as jobs/work/family life goes. Democrats have lied to Black people long enough. It is time the republicans spoke the truth, facts & stuck to them.

  2. Edie Everette  •  Oct 4, 2014 at 12:04 am

    Years back I made a cartoon satirizing Republican tastes in art. The categories consisted of bronze eagles, cowboys riding rearing horses and posters of military jets. I wish I could consult with Republicans about contemporary art — heck, we’d better start with modernist art! It is an area where more open mindedness is needed as I think the judgemental attitude that anything other than realism is a complete waste of time could be softened. As an artist and Republican I cringed the other day when a conservative radio host berated the Guggenheim Genius Award winner Alison Bechdel’s works. It sounded as if they had never even read it. Sure, much of her stuff may not be for conservative tastes yet her graphic memoir Fun Home, A Family Tragicomic I found to be a cultural storytelling leap. Knee jerk reactions to culture most likely turn off peopler that we don’t need to turn off. Strive to leave a chink in the Republican-art-taste wall so that at least there is a portal to look out from and into.

  3. Claude  •  Oct 8, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Fortunately, many Republicans still support traditional conservative transportation infrastructure; like trains.
    Fresno’s Republican mayor and current candidate for State Controller Ashley Sweariengin supports rail travel. She also has my vote.
    But too many Republicans follow the libertarian extremist ideology that people are unworthy of free choice and more subsidies need to be put into forcing people to drive, regardless of what the people want.
    The people are increasingly demanding trains, and Republicans are setting themselves up as the enemies of the people; including the candidate for Governor, Neel Kashkari, who promises to unilaterally overturn an election and reject the will of the people if he gets elected.
    This may be the first time I don’t vote for the Republican for Governor.

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