Willer and Voelkel write on political empathy for the Washington Post
"In his victory speech last month, President-elect Joe Biden urged Americans 'to see each other again, listen to each other again.' The moment felt like an opportunity to connect and heal. Political scientist Ian Bremmer tweeted: 'Now is the time for every Biden supporter to reach out to one person who voted for Trump. Empathize with them.'
Responses were swift — and scathing. For a moment, the country came together: in rejecting Bremmer’s plea. People on the right didn’t want to be patronized by those who had called them racists and fascists; people on the left refused to coddle supporters of an oppressive and discriminatory administration.
During fractious times, empathy can seem as effective as bringing cotton candy to a gunfight. When the other side is viewed as an existential threat, meeting opponents halfway can feel dangerous — equivalent to betraying one’s side and giving up your ideals.
Still, empathy should have a place in our national discourse."