Stefan Kleinhenz

During the Trump era, Republicans have struggled to exhibit compassion. The GOP touts its principles, but without compassion those principles are worthless.  

President Trump ordered 5,000 soldiers to be sent to the U.S.-Mexico border to defend the country from a migrant caravan of women and children. In 1957, President Eisenhower gave similar orders, but he sent the Arkansas National Guard to protect and defend nine African American students and their rights to attend school with white kids.

A time will come (and it may already be here) when the populace, regardless of policies and values, will look to public leaders to embody compassion. The Democrats have mastered the game of emotions and, whether they are sincere or not, people are drawn to leaders that at least appear to possess the basic human qualities of love. People are drawn to leaders that care.

The GOP must prioritize humanity over policy, and if it can’t, Republicans risk being voted out. In a number of humanitarian issues, Republicans hurt themselves.When it comes to gun violence, Republicans tend to spend very little time, if any, on the human impact of the tragedy. They immediately jump to the defense of the Second Amendment instead. With health care policy, Republicans allow themselves to be painted as leaders who don’t care if certain Americans won’t be able to afford treatment because it’s more important to have a smaller government. And with immigration, Republicans show no compassion for the families seeking a better life for their children, reverting instead to the talking point that the immigrants are illegal aliens and lawbreakers.

Republicans are on the wrong side of the game. They take the stance that the law is the highest essence of human life, but that’s not a platform that resonates with the people, and it most certainly is not a quality people will vote for. The GOP has principles and values, but when the party finds itself on the wrong side of human emotions, Republicans are playing with no hope of winning.

In the words of Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

If Republicans want to be successful; if Republicans want to do what they believe is right, they should either rediscover the teachings of Christ, whom they claim to follow, or stop pretending to uphold his teachings. The law of Christ is simple: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” When a caravan of people is making the trek of a lifetime to knock on our door and ask for a better life, we might not be able to welcome them in, but we can at least treat them as fellow humans and greet them them with love, not with a throng of soldiers. The GOP is treating them like animals trying to infest our nation.

Has the GOP forgotten the words of one of its founders, Abraham Lincoln? “Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances,” Lincoln said. Republicans used to be the party that put themselves in the shoes of the mistreated and despised; Republicans used to be the party that freed the slaves and fought for human rights. How can Republicans demand respect in their fight for the rights of the unborn if they aren’t willing to show compassion to grown men, women, and children?  Republicans used to send the military to protect the rights of its citizens, now they send the military to fight those who want nothing more than to have those rights as citizens.

President Eisenhower said: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” As our troops prepare to wage war on the caravan of immigrants, Eisenhower reminds Americans that by deploying the military, the Republican Party has already waged war on the hungry, the thirsty, and the strangers.

The Republican Party must reconnect with the spirit in which it was founded, unless it wants to continue on the path that labels them the enemy of the people. Regardless of the political objectives Republicans think they are accomplishing, as long as they appear to not care about the common struggles of man, and as long as they disregard the human desire for love, Republicans will find themselves on the path of destruction.

This essay appeared earlier today on The Collegian, Michigan’s oldest college newspaper, at Hillsdale College. Republished in collaboration with the author.
Orthodoxy in Dialogue welcomes essays on the challenges confronting Orthodox Christians around the planet at this critical sociopolitical moment. See our Submission Guidelines if you would like to write for us.

Stefan Kleinhenz is a 20-year old sophomore at Hillsdale College in Michigan, where he studies rhetoric, public address, and journalism. He has written on social and political themes for Orthodoxy in Dialogue and Public Orthodoxy. He grew up at St. Spyridon’s Greek Orthodox Church in San Diego CA.

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