David Roberts @drvox Seattleite transplanted from Tennessee; now blogging for vox.com/ about energy politics. Climate hawk, deficit dove. Not a doctor. Sep. 28, 2018 1 min read

Nothing but love & respect for the survivors who confronted Flake ... but honestly, it demonstrates what is so frustrating about Rs. They somehow can't believe problems & suffering are real unless someone in their orbit shoves it in their faces & makes them *feel* it.

You read about this with Rs all the time. Like, an R wants to slash all social spending except on a particular disease his niece has. Or an R who supports background checks because a close friend was shot. Or an R who opposes torture because he was tortured.

The perverse thing is, the press plays these things up as though they are praiseworthy! Uses them to show that this or that R is not really cruel or thoughtless. He loves that cute niece with the disease! Human, just like us.

But I'm sorry: if someone has to crowd all the way into your inner circle to get any empathy, or even acknowledgement, *you have a problem*. You lack moral imagination. Your conscience is moribund, as though it takes direct electric shocks to wake it up.

Like, guess what? Other people's nieces have diseases too. Other people get shot. Other people suffer, not just the ones in your direct line of sight! Those who suffer from the policies you support are real, actual people, not abstractions, not "political attacks" by opponents.

The inability to conceive of, take seriously, empathetically *feel* the suffering of others -- others outside close personal circles -- is a species of stunted moral development, a failure to transcend the moral narcissism of adolescence.

So, good for Flake, I guess, if he's really going to do something. But did he not know that rape is real, and that rape survivors suffer, until literally trapped in an elevator with one? He's unable to engage real moral sentiments unless his viscera are stimulated? C'mon.

We can't solve every social problem by bringing sympathetic victims to tell sad stories to Republicans on elevators. It's impractical. At some point, Rs are going to have to develop some moral imagination & realize that suffering is real, even when it's not in the elevator.

You can follow @drvox.


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