While 800,000 federal workers are wondering how they are going to stay in their homes, put food on the table, keep their kids in school, while many are lining up at foodbanks or selling belongings so they can put gas in their cars, disciples of Donald Trump are speaking out. Not out of sympathy or concern, but from an appalling lack of compassion that would make Marie Antoinette proud.

Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, said “there will be a little bit of pain.”

Larry Kudlow spoke about his employees showing up for work without getting paid and suggested that they’re happy to do so because they believe in President Trump.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was baffled that people would be at food banks and shelters. Why can’t they just go take out loans, he mused. Interesting coming from a billionaire who probably knows nothing about applying for a loan, or about going hungry. The most egregious part of what he said was his claim that, even if they don’t get paid, it’s only 800,000 people, not enough to really affect the economy.

These are the acolytes of a president who has demonstrated time and time again that he does not care about other human beings. Early on in the shutdown, when Mr. Trump was asked if he could relate to the hardships of people who were now without income, he ludicrously said he could and then said they would “make adjustments, they always do.” What does that even mean? Is an adjustment having to choose between putting food on the table and paying your heating bill in the dead of winter? And what would he know about that?

It’s become commonplace now to mention Donald Trump’s lack of empathy. But what is worrisome is the idea that we might not be giving that fact the gravitas it warrants. If you have no empathy, if you do not care about other human beings, you can do anything to them. There is no self-regulating mechanism within you to get in the way…otherwise known as conscience. Conscience comes from empathy; the two are inextricably linked. The characteristic shared by every despot, dictator, autocrat both historically and currently is an absence of empathy and a lack of conscience.

It should chill us to the bone that the man sitting in the Oval Office has, for basically his entire life, never shown an ounce of empathy for anyone. Not the contractors he used to stiff, not the women he cheated on and those he cheated with, not Heather Heyer who was killed by a neo-Nazi – the very group Donald Trump said included some “very fine people.” He doesn’t care.

We need to really sit with that and feel the weight of what that means. A man who thinks nothing of other people’s suffering is right now in a position to affect the lives of millions. Yes, we have a system of checks and balances, but the president has a lot of power.

There is a cost to heartlessness. Sometimes, eventually, the person with no heart pays a cost. But not before that individual has left a trail of broken lives behind. We owe it to the 800,000 people who are suffering right now, and we owe it to ourselves, to recognize the danger of a man in power who cares about no one but himself.


  1. David Levine says:

    This is very sad to read and very true.These people are so out of touch with you everyday needs of Americans. They have no idea what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck,to have to not be able to afford medicine and food at the same time.

    Empathy is what makes us human and brings out the best of us. Trump and his gang have no empathy. It’s not because they’re wealthy. Robert Kennedy did.

    Thank you for this really timely article.

  2. Edward Jenny says:

    heartsick by what horrors are now acceptable losses in our society

  3. Beth Feldman says:

    Perfectly said! Thank you for writing & including Heather Heyer.

  4. Michael Baron says:

    I love this post, Patti!! You continuously share brilliant wisdom and invaluable insights! You truly say what needs to be said!!

  5. Janet Zinn says:

    Compassion is an essential component of Emotional Intelligence, which is imperative in relating to others. The absence of compassion by the leader of our country or any country puts its citizens in danger, as it has with the shutdown.

    Great essay, Patti.

  6. Tom Hahn says:

    If one wants to drive a car, you need to take a test. There are so many examples like this, yet to become the president, one has a physical. But, there is no test for mental capacity or acuity. When one person is deciding for millions, is that unreasonable. Would you go to a doctor who has no education with his chosen field? A mental examination would allow us to determine his capabilities, such as DISC. So many need attention at this time and as his inabilities point out his incapacity to lead, it is imperative, that candidates are tested. One cannot fake answers as these tests account for that. This country is being dragged forcibly into a world of hurt that will take decades to correct.Thank you for using your voice to help inspire

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