Let’s Make Compassion And Politics Mix

To The Reader’s Forum:

A couple of articles in the Jan. 26 P-J and recent news reports got me to thinking. Edward Vos wrote on compassion, the Statue of Liberty and immigration. Rich Lowry wrote on the politics of DACA and the latest government shutdown and short-term continuing resolution on funding.

Regarding Vos’ fine comments, I have wondered for a long time why it seems that many in the GOP draw a line on “compassion”. Pretty much everyone shows compassion toward family and friends and even strangers, especially in time of tragedy, but when it comes to government programs that extend forms of compassion to the society at large (anti-poverty, health, environment, criminal and racial justice, etc.) it seems Democrats and Republicans split decidedly.

Many Republicans claim to belong to the party of “family values” and be Christian evangelicals yet they tend to sway from “Christian” values (e.g. principles of the “Beatitudes”) where public policy is concerned. I’ve understood that family values and Christianity are supposed to connect one’s personal connection to God and society at large, yet it seems to me that Democrats, even those unaffiliated with religion, tend to do more societal outreach in public policy. Frankly, I feel party affiliation should be meaningless if we believe in compassion and there should be less divisiveness in how we treat each other.

Lowry’s article uses these words: “There’s still a good chance that Democrats can force a bad DACA deal…” How can permitting people, who are only doing good (school, work, military, volunteering), to become an accepted part of American society be “bad”? How can eventual citizenship be “bad”? Unfortunately, Lowry shows zero compassion when he addresses DACA resolution as part of a political trade-off – pay for a “wall” or forget DACA.

Why isn’t DACA resolution simply seen in human terms rather than as a business or political deal? A reasonable question for those proclaiming a “Christian” ethic is “What Would Jesus Do?” No political party should claim a control over compassion – it should be a central tenet of human existence.

I feel that if we Americans acted more out of outward compassion than political or economic selfishness we would come together to resolve many more pressing issues – it’s the end that is important even if it requires compromise on the means to get there.

Paul L. Demler