Bill Maher and Chris Hays both (on their respective shows) opined on the fact that it appears that the only way for conservative to empathetic toward others is if it is personal. No case exemplifies that more than Will Portman coming out to his father, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH). In 1996, then Congressman Portman co-sponsored the so called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and in 1999 voted to prohibit same-sex couples from adopting in DC.
Those stances came crashing down though, because his conservative views clashed with the reality that one of his own children was adversely affected by those very conservative views. Two years after his son’s coming out, Senator Portman has voiced his support for marriage equality even while other conservatives try to shout him down.
Now ask yourself this question: What if Will had announced that he was penniless, homeless, hungry and couldn’t see a doctor because he had couldn’t afford medical insurance? Setting aside the Portman family’s wealth, would Senator Portman then be inclined to increase funding for social welfare programs such as food stamps, Section 8 housing and Medicaid? Or do you think he would be inclined to keep voting to cut these programs as he has in the past?
Does personal closeness to discrimination, poverty and such truly change the views of a conservative or is Senator Portman’s personal epiphany an anomaly? As experiments go, I think it would be grand!