Empathy for the World’s Least Empathetic Person?

I almost found myself feeling sorry for Donald Trump. The poor man is “battling” Covid-19. He’s out-of-shape. He’s 74-years old.

But hold on: Why should we feel empathy for the least empathetic person in the world?

At almost the same time that Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Barack Obama offered him prayers and consoling words, the Trump campaign blasted “Lyin’ Obama and Phony Kamala Harris” and charged that “Sleepy Joe isn’t fit to be YOUR President.”

Why should we feel empathy for a man who is receiving world-class, publicly-funded healthcare at the same time that his lawyers are in court trying to rip yours away? 

Remember, this is the man who told the white supremacist Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during his cringeworthy debate performance last week.

Yes, he’s had Covid. But he has also hindered our pandemic response at every turn and allowed 210,000 Americans to die on his watch.

He downplayed the virus, pushed responsibility on to governors, and then demanded they allow businesses to reopen – too early – in order to make the economy look good before the election.

He muzzled and disputed experts at the CDC, promoted crank cures, held maskless campaign events, and encouraged followers not to wear masks. He’s said he doesn’t take responsibility at all for America’s failed COVID response, and said our staggering death toll “is what it is.” 

When he announced he’d be discharged from Walter Reed hospital, he told the American people: “Don’t be afraid of COVID.” 

Meanwhile, Trump is urging his followers to intimidate Biden voters at the polls, and is already claiming the election is rigged against him and will be fraudulent unless he wins.

He’s even threatening to have states that he loses declare the votes invalid and certify their own slate of Trump electors in January.

Whether responding to Trump’s Covid or to Trump’s larger political maneuvers, Democrats want to act decently and nicely, to take the high road and be fair. They want to protect democratic norms, values, and institutions.

This is admirable. It’s also what Democrats say they stand for.

But the other side isn’t playing the same game. Trump and his enablers will do anything to retain and entrench their power.

So feel sympathy for him if you’d like. But when you cast your ballot, don’t forget who he is, what he’s done, and what he wants to continue to do to America.