Monday, 18 March 2013

Politics of Narcissism

Matthew Yglesias in Rob Portman and the Politics of Narcissism notes that Senator Rob Portman of Ohio has changed his mind on gay marriage after learning that his son is gay.
But what Portman is telling us here is that on this one issue, his previous position was driven by a lack of compassion and empathy. Once he looked at the issue through his son's eyes, he realized he was wrong. Shouldn't that lead to some broader soul-searching? Is it just a coincidence that his son is gay, and also gay rights is the one issue on which a lack of empathy was leading him astray? That, it seems to me, would be a pretty remarkable coincidence. The great challenge for a senator isn't to go to Washington and represent the problems of his own family. It's to try to obtain the intellectual and moral perspective necessary to represent the problems of the people who don't have direct access to the corridors of power.

Senators basically never have poor kids. That's something members of Congress should think about. Especially members of Congress who know personally that realizing an issue affects their own children changes their thinking.
Recently Tony Abbott was on TV explaining how his attitude to women had changed because of his daughters (this seems to have been a rather slow change). Likewise his attitude to gays had changed after his sister's recent coming out. This is exactly what Yglesias is writing about in his article.

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