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Elitism and Empathy in American Presidents - Elitism and Empathy in American Presidents

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Elitism and Empathy in American Presidents
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Presidential-elect Obama also failed to condemn Israel’s military attack against the civilian population of Gaza during December 2008 in which hundreds of children were slaughtered, and he has remained silent while Israel has denied humanitarian aid for its Gaza victims. The White House "stood with Israel" and voted against the UN Human Rights Commission report that found Israel to be guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
 
Today, in the U.S., one out of every six adults is unemployed or underemployed, and one third were without work at some point in 2009. One of every four children in the United States lives in poverty. Yet, the nation is still without a dedicated jobs program.
 
With one in six children living in a household suffering from food insecurity, the nation is still without a targeted food program. President Obama has promised to eliminate hunger in America by 2015 and to create millions of jobs through his overall economic recovery program; however, all across America, tonight, there are millions of children
going to bed hungry with little "hope" for their future.
 
President Obama promised hope and change for the United States. He is certainly one of the most articulate presidents ever; however, is he merely mouthing words, or does he have real feelings for others?
 
The Presence or Absence of Empathy
 
Empathy is a capacity for understanding and sympathizing with the feelings, thoughts and experiences of another person. An empathic person does not have to be poor or to have personally suffered to "feel the pain" of another person; however, empathy does require real feelings and not just an expression of concern.
 
Franklin Roosevelt was born into a family of wealth and privilege; however, he quickly demonstrated upon being elected president that he truly cared for the well-being of the poor and disadvantaged. He immediately established job and relief programs and directed public spending to put money into the pockets of workers, rather than profits onto the balance sheets of corporations.
 
Roosevelt did not cater to the ruling elite. Rather, he said "the transmission from generation to generation of vast fortunes by will, inheritance, or gift is not consistent with the ideals and sentiments of the American people." FDR believed in an essential human right to be free from want, in order to enjoy a healthy peacetime life, and to be free from the fear caused by military armaments.
 
For Roosevelt, empathy was not a rhetorical device; it was a deeply felt identification with those with the least power and those who suffered the most.
 
Like Roosevelt, George W. Bush (Jr.) was also raised in great wealth and privilege, and he held himself out as a "compassionate conservative." However, it was no secret that Bush was anything but. He once bragged to an audience of wealthy New Yorkers, "This is an impressive crowd. The haves, and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite. I call you my base."
 
Bush may have spoken these words: "Those who are poor, those who suffer, those who have lost hope are not strangers in our midst; they’re our fellow citizens." However, when a citizen dared to criticize him during a promotional event for his "faith-based" programs, he snarled, "Who cares what you think?"
 
Ernest Partridge writes that the "‘absence of empathy’ is ‘the one characteristic that connects’ most of the immoral and misbegotten tenets of Bushism: that dogmatic mix of market absolutism, libertarianism, corporatism and simple greed that falsely describes itself as ‘conservatism,’ and which I choose to call ‘regressivism.’ ‘Absence of empathy’ is the essence of evil which, if unchecked and unreversed, is certain to bring about the demise of the American republic as we know it, just as it led to the advent of the Third Reich.

"One has to ask: has the United States evolved an electoral system that deprives its presidents of empathy, or are presidental candidates selected because they have an absence of that quality?
 
Is President Obama a Member of the Ruling Elite?
 
President Obama was not raised with wealth, but by a single mother who, at one time, had to draw upon food stamps. However, he was privileged to receive an upper-class education. He received a scholarship to the exclusive Punahou School at age 10, where he spent the next eight years on the lush hillside campus preparing for college. Following graduation, Obama received scholarships to attend Occidental College in Los Angeles and Columbia University in New York City.
 
After taking a break to work as a community organizer, Obama received a scholarship to attend Harvard Law School, where he served as editor and president of the law review journal, and he clerked for two prestigious law firms in Chicago during his summer vacations.
 
Upon graduation in 1991, Obama returned to Chicago where he was employed by the University of Chicago Law School as a visiting fellow in order to complete his book, Dreams from My Father.
 
In 1992, Obama married Michelle Robinson, who was a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. Their two daughters have attended the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and, after they moved into the White House, the children were enrolled in the private Sidwell Friends School.
 
Like Clinton, Barack Obama relied upon scholarships to raise himself by education from modest circumstances, but can it be said that his experiences resulted in empathy for other underprivileged children who do not qualify for such assistance, or who do not have the family or community support to take advantage of available opportunities? Does he blame these children for their own failures?
 
In September 2009, President Obama recorded a message to American students, and the Department of Education suggested that teachers have their students "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president" and "to make students accountable to their goals." The government also recommended that, after listening to the speech, students should discuss what "the President wants us to do." Obama laid his expectations upon the students, but he failed to mention what they could expect from him.
 
After a year in office, the evidence is convincing that Obama is willing to make politically advantageous deals on behalf of his corporate sponsors and, in doing so, fail to serve the interests of the voters who elected him, and their children.
 
The world has seen that President Obama is also willing to sacrifice the lives of innocent civilians, including children, to achieve the objectives of the ruling elite. These lives are simply "collateral damage" in the wars being fought around the globe against "terrorism," "drugs" and in support of Israel’s program of apartheid in Palestine.
 
One must conclude that, irrespective of his race, creed, or culture, President Obama is much more a part of the international ruling elite, than the ordinary people of America, who seized upon his message of hope and change and elected him as their president. Sadly, it appears his soul was already spoken for.
 
Who Cares for the Suffering Children?
 
Children continue to suffer and die around the world and in the United States because the presidents placed in the White House by the ruling elite have no empathy for those who suffer from the policies they pursue, or the critical problems they ignore, all in response to the dictates of their masters.
 
By adhering to the "ethics of the marketplace," by allowing the politics of greed, the culture of militarism, and the pursuit of an empire to dictate his administration’s policies, President Obama has betrayed the American people who believed and trusted in him.
 
If the President of the United States fails or refuses to take action on behalf of children, the most vulnerable victims of the unlawful wars he continues to fight on behalf of the ruling elites, or the corrupt policies he pursues for their benefit, who shall speak for the children?
 
Who cares for the suffering and dying children, the homeless, those without hope, those abandoned or ignored by the politics of power, the little ones who cry themselves to sleep each night, cold, hungry and alone? The lights may be on in the White House, but is there anyone at home?
 
William John Cox is a retired prosecutor and public interest lawyer, author and political activist. His 2004 book, "You’re Not Stupid! Get the Truth: A Brief on the Bush Presidency" is reviewed at http://www.yourenotstupid.com, and he is currently working on a fact-based fictional political philosophy.
 
The drawing of "Who Cares for the Suffering Children" is by Helen Werner Cox, who was trained as a classical painter at Boston University. She is nearing retirement as a nationally-certified library media teacher, who has made extensive use of art in her literacy programs. Credit for photographs used as models include: French Association Friends of Afghans and Afghanistan; Gaza1.wordpress.com; Helen_01 on photobucket; Andy Graham, the hobo traveler; starving_child-sudan21 on wordpress.com; and Marrilee Boyack.


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