Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, a rising national star in the Republican Party, announced on Friday that he has a gay son and could no longer justify his opposition to same-sex marriage.
Mr. Portman’s revelation makes him the only sitting Republican senator to publicly support giving gay men and lesbians the right to marry, and one of the most prominent so far of a growing number of Republicans to publicly oppose their party on the issue.
Think: Nancy Reagan and stem-cell research.
This is one of the few ways that conservatives make progress: someone they know and love is involved, so they “get it” and switch sides to join liberals. And sometimes not even then.
This makes me wonder if there is an emotional component to the conservative political makeup: some variation on the inability to understand another person’s point of view in the abstract.
This would help explain the self-centered, self-important, intolerant and uncompassionate views held by many conservatives. The Randian hatred of social support systems, the “screw you I’ve got mine” mindset. Not only the lack of tolerance and sensitivity, but the sometimes stunning tone-deafness displayed by conservatives. The “I’m better than you” state of mind displayed in memes such as non-urban areas being the “Real America,” or of the concept of “American Exceptionalism,” deserved or not. The easy bigotry accompanied by the sense that one is not at all bigoted but that’s just “the way things are.”
Having an impaired ability to empathize with others, to see things from their perspective, could tie in to so much that we see in conservatism.