Are Republicans less empathic than Democrats?

First off, I apologize for the painting with the broad brush, as I understand Republicans (and Democrats) encompass quite diverse individuals who don’t necessarily share views on all subjects.

On the topic of this thread. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker was ordered to release emails by a state court today. Among the emails was this gem, an incredibly offensive joke that made fun not only of blacks, but also jews, mexicans, the disabled, AIDS patients, and orphans. I am socially to the left and fiscally right down the middle, but vote Democratic. I am simply dumbfounded by how anyone can read this “joke” and find it funny :confused: Frankly, the mean-spirited tone just strikes all the wrong notes with me, and I have a hard time imagining how anyone could not only find this funny, but also funny enough to send to others by email.

I’m sure there are Democrats out there who may find the joke funny. However, stories about Democratic politicians sending out racist and bigoted emails tend to be rare, while these sorts of stories tend to appear with a higher frequency with Republicans politicians. Why is this? Do Republican politicians (and voters) tend to have less empathic views than those in the Democratic side? Have there been any studies performed about this?

Republican versus democrats isn’t a good way to phrase such a question. It is basically meaningless and you can show real numbers to show any position you choose to. For example, blue (democratic states) generally have a much lower rate of charitable giving than deep red (and generally very religious) states. Blue states also tend to be objectively more rude as just by outsiders than red states as just in ways like willingness to help strangers. That is largely a correlation problem however because there is a very large urban versus rural factor involved. Rural people in general will always be kinder and more accommodating to strangers among groups that they are familiar with just because the opportunity to help outsiders doesn’t present itself as much.

None of that means much. You have to break it out in a much more nuanced way. Liberal versus conservative is a finer breakdown but even that is way too coarse a measure. Among liberal ranks, you have everyone from Buddhists to radical feminists. Conservatives have everything from neo-nazi’s to young Mormon missionaries.

In short, your labels are way too broad to draw any conclusions. Even further subdivisions are not fine enough. Among really conservative and really liberal people, I know complete assholes as well as true gems among both. I am sure that most others with an open mind do too.

BTW, I didn’t find anything especially offensive about the joke in the thread other than it wasn’t funny. It was practically progressive in the admission that there are some groups that have it worse than others.

On any measure Republicans and Democrats will form largely overlapping curves. The peaks may be in slightly different places, but the odds are overwhelming that the differences within the group will be larger than the differences between the two groups. Whether the peaks are predictive or not is a matter of huge debate.

For fun, Time magazine ran a non-scientific poll, Can TIME Predict Your Politics?, based on research from The results are shown graphically on the page It’s True: Liberals Like Cats More Than Conservatives Do. The results show that the two groups do conform to perceived stereotypes about them in these ways.

Is that more scientific than expressing another set of stereotypes in a joke? Not in this case. Sick jokes about outsiders are insiders’ language in every field on earth. Whenever emails are exposed to public view some variation of this type of joke is always found. Always. For every group.

It would be comforting to some to think that this represents an underlying basic truth about Republicans, but it says nothing more than that they are human.

While there may be scientific studies on the question, I can’t see this thread staying in GQ territory for very long. Let’s move it over to GD.

General Questions Moderator

Y’know, it’s almost a backhanded compliment to Democrats (although clearly not intended as such). Almost all the groups mentioned (with the exception of bald people) tend to vote Democratic, so of course the guy is going to be a Democrat. And none of the characteristics except being a drug addict (and maybe HIV+) indicate anything that might be construed as necessarily the guy’s own fault. So Republicans might ask themselves why someone who is so disadvantaged would naturally be a Democrat.

If I were in a forgiving mood, I might liken it to a scene in blazing saddles that ends with “…but we won’t take the Irish”
Then again, blazing saddles was making fun of bigotry.

Just to be even handed, did Gov Walker send that email or only receive it? And if he sent it, did he put any comments on it?

Just in case Gov Walker wrote something like “can you believe someone would send something this offensive” or it was “Hey guvvy, thought you’d like this one” (sent from a

Certainly I get tons of unbidden offensive emails that I delete (usually after reading because they can be funny).

It’s not like the Republicans have the sole monopoly on idiots. A Democratic candidate for DA of Houston thinks that there are too many prosecutions for domestic violence, and it’s mostly couples who like rough sex -

I was thinking Monty Python, which was doing something similar.

Per the link above:

Walker’s office had to release it because it was sent by his a member staff during the period being investigated; there is no evidence that he ever saw it.

Unrelated to any jokes, it has always struck me that Republican policy lacks empathy. For example, their constant battle against extending unemployment benefits. Their hatred over the people gaming the system completely overrides whatever empathy they have for the families who genuinely are looking for work but are failing to find any.

IMHO, a normal human with normal empathy would be more concerned about the children in those families (and even the children of the deadbeats, for that matter) than the unfortunate side-effect of enabling the losers.

That’s the way I’ve always seen it.

Republicans say: “Because SOME people game the system (be it unemployment benefits, welfare, food stamps, whatever), therefore NO ONE should get any help — even those who genuinely deserve it.”

Democrats say: “We accept that this help will go to some people who don’t deserve it. We provide it anyway for the sake of getting it to those who really do.”
I’m prepared to be educated by anyone who feels this analysis is incorrect — and specifically, to look at any statistics that show the percentage of undeserving is greater than the percentage of deserving.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that for the last 80 years, the Democrats have positioned themselves as the"Mommy Party", while the Republicans present themselves as the “Daddy Party.”

Now Mommies are generally more empathetic, but Republicans would maintain that Daddy loves you too, and that “tough love” will serve you better in the long run.

You’d have a valid point here if unemployment benefits ended after three months and the Democrats were pushing for extending it to four.

But the current system has people getting them for years, with the Democrats still pushing for more. At some point, when do we just call this welfare?

If unemployment benefits lasted five years and the Republicans were against extending it to six, would you still feel the same way?

The Republicans that I know honestly believe that the vast majority of people who get some sort of govt assistance (other than social security) are cheating the system and don’t deserve what they are getting.

In discussions with them, I am frequently saying, “Yes some people are able to cheat the system, but that doesn’t mean we scrap the whole thing, since it is legitimately helping a lot of people.” Then they look at me like I have three heads.

I found it enlightening to read how William Poundstone framed in it game theory terms in his book Prisoner’s Dilemma:

Depends on if there were actual jobs for these people. Just generally extending timespans for the fuck of it isn’t the issue. The issue is that even if you cut these folks off, there simply aren’t enough jobs yet for them yet.

Your response is a perfect zero empathy example of the question posed in this thread. They’ve been collecting a long time? Doesn’t matter why; cut them off!

Yes, at some point you have to cut unemployment benefits. Duh.

From a policy perspective I think there’s something to this. But I think we should also admit that at least to a certain extent it’s not a bad thing. Empathy and good intentions alone don’t make for good policy.

I’ve thought about this, and I think maybe we conservatives have a smaller sized group that we actively care about (bad choice of words, but Dunbar’s Number doesn’t really describe it).

The lefties I know seem genuinely concerned about the homeless, poor, unemployed etc. in our country (US). They are largely in favor of higher taxes to care for these groups, but aren’t in favor of the massive tax hikes necessary to extend this care to billions of poor in India, Africa, and the like. We all (liberal or conservative) recognize we’ll bankrupt ourselves attempting to care for the entire human population, and have to draw the line somewhere. I’m a lifelong conservative, and for me the line is drawn at the edge of my family, while liberal folks favor extending it much farther.

I’ve taught my kids that there is no such thing as “government money”, there is only other people’s money. And that as high-earners, we’re usually the “other people” whose money the left is so eager to use (to show how much they care). As game, I’ve encouraged them to watch and see how many of their age group actually favor higher taxes on themselves, or just on someone else. So far, they’re not finding many. :stuck_out_tongue:

Less “empathic”? Perhaps. But personally, I didn’t invest all the effort and sweat to get where we are for the benefit of other people. I did it for myself and my family. So I resist (through my representatives) additional redistribution of my earnings. I’ve just drawn the line at a different place.