Monday, May 16, 2016

Empathy on Capitol Hill: A Beginner's Guide

By Tommy Corcoran
Capitol Hill Correspondent

It would take a heart of stone not to be moved by today's New York Times story on Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R – Bay of Pigs) and her realization that hatred and bigotry directed at trans people are in fact hatred and bigotry.  Unlike most of the rest of us, who were able to tease out this conclusion from our general views about human dignity, she reached this unremarkable conclusion because she has a trans child whom she loves.

How nice.

Now that she has seen the light on equal treatment for trans individuals, perhaps her personal journey of growth will take a few more steps.  We might suggest:

1.  Meet a 12-year-old girl who was impregnated following a rape by a relative.  If she did, maybe she wouldn't consistently vote against access to safe, legal abortion and for defunding Planned Parenthood, a vital source of health services to women.

2.  Meet a hungry family.  Maybe then she wouldn't have voted to cut food stamp funding.

3.  Meet a part-time worker with a sick child.  Then maybe she wouldn't have voted to increase the threshold for employer-provided health insurance to 40 hours a week, thereby allowing Wal-Mart to evade the requirement to provide health insurance to its employees.

4.  Meet a child poisoned by polluted water.  Then maybe she wouldn't have voted to strip EPA of the power to regulate the discharge of dangerous pesticides into the water supply.

5.  Meet an unemployed worker.  Then maybe she wouldn't have voted against infrastructure spending that would have provided tens of thousands of good jobs for unemployed or underemployed factory workers or miners.

Yes, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen's journey to empathy looks like a long one, perhaps even longer than her dream of restoring plutocracy to Cuba.  Wish her (and us) luck.

Information about her voting record extracted from NARAL and ADA records.

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