There is a remarkably striking similarity between how it is advisable to examine a new psychiatrist and the way you might choose a candidate for political office; that is if you wish to avoid years of unbearable distress.
First, some background information about possibly the most important neuro-scientific discovery of the past decade: Empathy Cells.
In the early 1990s, Italian researchers discovered a new type of nerve cell in the brain of monkeys, which are now called mirror neurons. When a monkey watched a researcher eat an ice cream; neurons fired. Then those same cells fired when the monkey ate the ice cream. In other words, the monkey reacted with “empathy” when observing the researcher eating.
Eventually this led to the discovery that humans have incredibly sophisticated mirror neurons, which allow us to understand the actions, emotions and experiences of others. In short, mirror neurons allow us to empathically grasp what other people feel by emotionally “getting it” rather than with rational thinking alone.
Empathy and the Candidate for National Office
While scientists have measured the empathy in apes, no such test has been given to politicians.
A candidate for national office should be able to empathically understand what it means to be unemployed or go hungry.
A candidate should have a genuine interest in learning more about the millions of Americans who suffer and possess a desire to help those in distress.
A politician should be highly sensitive to the oppression, discrimination and racism that saturates our history. This requires empathy
The Empathy Gap
Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and their Republican supporters, rather than expressing a desire to experience the world of those culturally different and deprived with the intention of assisting them, seem intent on depriving the average American of security. Take the Ryan Budget plan which Mitt Romney extols:
1. It eviscerates the programs and services we depend on while gifting a handsome tax cut to the richest Americans. These include healthcare services, banking and clean water regulations, road repair and education assistance.
2. More than three-fifths of the cuts proposed by Mr. Ryan come from programs for low-income Americans. That means billions of dollars lost for job training for the displaced, Pell grants for students and food stamps for the hungry.Federal help will not be there when a city is unable to replace a crumbling bridge.
3. These cuts are so severe that the nation’s Catholic bishops raised their voices in protest at the shredding of the nation’s moral obligations. Mr. Ryan’s budget “will hurt hungry children, poor families, vulnerable seniors and workers who cannot find employment,” the bishops wrote in an April letter to the House. “These cuts are unjustified and wrong.”
4. Mr. Ryan believes with an obvious lack of empathy that his budget helps poor by” eliminating their dependence on the government”. And yet he has failed to explain how he would magically make them self-sufficient by cutting aid to state governments by 20 percent.
5. Mr. Ryan has drawn a blueprint of a government that will be absent when people need it the most. It will not be there when the unemployed need job training, or when a financially struggling student needs help to get into college.
6. People might agree that we need to balance our budget and shrink government. But how will we feel we realize Mr. Ryan plans take away our new sewage treatment plants, the asphalt for our streets, and the replacements for retiring police officers and firefighters.
7. All of this will be accompanied, of course, by even greater tax giveaways to the rich, and extravagant benefits to powerful military contractors. Business leaders will be granted their wish for severely diminished watchdogs
8. The Ryan budget would do damage not just to the poor but to the middle class as well. As he wrote euphemistically, "the key to pro-growth tax reform is lowering tax rates while broadening the tax base."
9. Ryan advocates cutting the top income tax rate to 25% .The only way to do so while keeping overall tax revenues at 19% of gross domestic product, In fact, the most popular breaks save billions for the middle class.
10. More than 70% of the mortgage interest payments claimed as deductions ($240 billion) appear on returns filed by people in the income range of $60,000 to $200,000, according to the IRS. Many of these middle-class homeowners base their annual financial planning on tax breaks such as the mortgage deduction. Only about 1.4% of the total is claimed by taxpayers earning $1 million or more.
11. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center recently calculated, sharply lowering marginal rates while cutting out the most popular tax breaks results means they are coming after all of us except for their wealthy friends.
12. Ryan would replace the existing Medicare system of guaranteed treatment (with a nominal individual premium) with one providing vouchers for service through private commercial insurance plans. By design, the vouchers wouldn't cover all costs, and because their value would rise in accordance with a standard inflation measure, not with medical inflation, the gap would widen over time.
Republican number crunchers like Romney and Ryan have the least empathy. You can bet your last dollar, and you can bet it will be your last dollar, they will be silent when the elderly cannot keep up with the costs of M.R.I.’s or prescription medicines, or when the poor and uninsured become increasingly sick through lack of preventive care.
I don’t have the data to support my thesis that Conservative Republicans suffer from a brain empathy deficit disorder. But I can quote Maureen Dowd who said on August 14 that Paul Ryan is, “the cutest package that cruelty ever came in.”