The GOP and the Crisis of Empathy

no-empathy-for-people-like-_thumb[4]Ohio Senator Rob Portman, former potential VP candidate and Romney surrogate, has come out in support of Marriage Equality. That's awesome. What's a little less awesome is that it took an actual personal cost for Portman to discover what lots of us have already. That the laws of the land should be applied equally and love isn't as limited as our imaginations. Portman's son came out to his parents in 2011 and:

“It allowed me to think of this from a new perspective, and that’s of a dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have – to have a relationship like Jane and I have had for over 26 years,”

Sen. Portman's son, Will, tweeted that he was

“Especially proud of my dad today,”

And I am too. But why in so many of these recent Republican reconsideration stories is it a personal relationship that is finally the tipping point? Where is the empathy? Why does it take a family member's suffering (or potential suffering) to bring these conservative leaders around? I don't begin to understand why there's so little empathy in the GOP. But I do know what that lack of empathy will cost them. An entire generation of voters, and if they don't find their empathy soon, it will spell the end of their party altogether. Look at the racial and gender breakdown of support in the last election. It's true that voters tend to get older and more affluent over time (which tends to lead to more conservative voting) but voters don't get more Caucasian or more male. The electorate will include more minorities that aren't just mostly voting for Democrats, but overwhelmingly voting for Democrats. You can parade the Rubio's and Cruz' around all you want to but when they're saying things like this:

“Just because I believe that states should have the right to define marriage in a traditional way does not make me a bigot,”

as Rubio did on Thursday, it's clear that while you've added color to the party, the GOP can keep the big shiny "No Empathy Added" sticker on the label.