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The January 12 'MHP' Syllabus

Is an empathetic politician the best politician? And who are the women to watch in the New Year? Join us for answers and analysis Sunday at 10am ET on msnbc!
Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis (D) speaks at the National Press Club, Aug. 5, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis (D) speaks at the National Press Club, Aug. 5, 2013 in Washington, DC.

In a representative democracy, constituents cast votes in order to elect politicians who understand what they need from the government. Voters put their trust in elected officials, knowing that – theoretically – the sole mission of a politician is to protect the electorate. Empathy thus becomes a pivotal characteristic of any politician who strives to stand up for the rights of a diverse populace.

As members of Congress continue to oppose extending unemployment benefits and promote slashing SNAP, it can feel as though we are experiencing a widening empathy gap amongst Members of Congress. A recent NBC News poll found that 45% of Americans think the Democratic Party does a better job of showing compassion and concern for people. Only 17% said the same of the Republican Party. On Sunday’s Melissa Harris-Perry, we’re breaking down the politics of empathy in the struggle for greater economic equality. 

In our second hour, we will shift our focus to a new report published by NBC News Special Anchor Maria Shriver entitled The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink. In it, Shriver highlights the effects of poverty on women and underscores the vital importance of closing the wage gap as a pivotal part of the economic agenda in order to spur economic growth.

Also on Sunday, we’re kicking off msnbc’s Women In 2014 series! The year-long series will chronicle the various political campaigns that women are waging as they run for seats in the House and Senate as well as open governorships. Currently, Maggie Hassan is the only female Democratic governor, but depending on how things go this November, she could be joined by other inspiring women, including Texas gubernatorial candidate, Wendy Davis. To get our coverage started, we sent reporter Meredith Clark down to Plano, TX to see how women feel about Davis and her chances of winning. Tune in Sunday to hear what she found out.    

Be sure to read what we’ve linked above, and watch Melissa Harris-Perry Sunday at 10 a.m. EST on msnbc! Also, don’t forget to join us on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #nerdland.