1. Let people know you understand their problem

“Part of what I think leadership requires, and I hope I meet the standard, is letting people know you understand their problem. Again, my dad used to have an expression.  He said, ‘I don’t expect the government to solve my problems, but I expect them to at least know what they are, understand them.’

And like a lot of you, we’ve been very fortunate as a family, but we’ve also been through a lot of fairly tough times.  I’ve had the great advantage of having a family to get through them.”

2. Understand what pain is like

“My first wife and daughter were killed when a tractor trailer broadsided them and killed my first wife and killed my daughter. My two boys were expected to die- it took the Jaws of Life three hours to get them out.  They were on top of their dead mother and dead sister.

I understand what that pain is like.

And when Jill and I lost Beau after a year in Iraq, winning the Bronze Star and Conspicuous Service Medal, a major in the United States military, came home with Stage 4 glioblastoma because he lived between 2- and 500 yards from burn pit that’s 10 feet deep and as big as a football field, burning every toxic waste you could find.

You know, I think that we understand what it’s like to lose family members, mothers, fathers, all of you have been through that kind of thing.

We’ve been fortunate, though.  We’ve had each other.  We’ve had strong families — Jill’s sisters, my brothers, my sister.”

3. Make sure there’s people who are there to help

“What we can do to deal with that empathy is make sure there’s help available, make sure there’s people who are there to help — whether they are a psychologist or whether they’re medical doctors or whether they’re social workers — to be there to help, to help just hold a hand.

And, for example, we can do an awful lot for a lot of families, the families you’re talking about, if we re- — reinstate this Child Tax Credit.  It cut child poverty by 40 percent when it was in place.  I couldn’t get it passed the second time around.So there’s a lot we can do. 

The empathy is not just talking about it, it’s communicating to people you genuinely understand.  And I hope a lot of people don’t understand, because I don’t want people having to know the pain.”

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