Thursday, January 27, 2011

When Compromise is the Problem

One of the problems I noted in my last post was in regards to people on both ends of the spectrum (and I'm referring to those on the very ends, and not the vast majority in the middle), who refuse to compromise, as they somehow imagine that it constitutes a complete sell-out. 

So it's not enough for Democrats to get liberal policies if it means Republicans got something they wanted.  Sure, there was nothing inherently anti-liberal about the tax deal Obama cut last month, as taxing the rich isn't inherently a liberal position; but only one of necessity.  And if we didn't need their money, it'd be fine if they kept it. 

But that's not enough for some on the far left.  For them, the very fact that Obama gave Republicans anything is the problem.  And they'll denounce him as being anti-liberal, even though he did it to support liberal policies and the compromise he made wasn't anti-liberal. 

And as I keep stressing, for as much as these people imagine they're choosing policy above politics, it's the exact opposite.  They're partisans who insist that compromise is for the weak and it'd be better politics to hold out until we win; even if it hurt people.

Not Much of a Concession

And we certainly see this on the right, which is so entirely out of whack that they actually have their leaders say this crap.  And so we have Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in this exchange:
MCCONNELL: If the president is willing to do what I and my members would do anyway, we’re not going to say no and –

ALLEN: But that’s not much of a concession. That’s not bargaining, to just give you what you want.

MCCONNELL: Um, I like to think I’m a pretty good negotiator.
And well, no.  That really wasn't much of a concession.  And no, negotiating does not mean you just get what you want.

Working Together Isn't a Sin

And look, this country wasn't meant to work with steamroller politics.  If half the country wants one thing, and the other half wants something else, and both sides refuse to budge; nothing will happen.  That's how it was designed.  That's the idea.  This isn't winner take all.  We're supposed to work together for a common solution, and if enough people disagree with you, then you don't get anything.  That's not a bug in the system.  That's by design.

And if you're fine with nothing getting done, as Republicans are, then this works perfectly.  But...if you think there are problems to solve, like social and economic inequality, then you can't sit back and hold your breath until everyone fulfills your demands.  And since Republicans still have enough power to put the kibosh on our agenda, it means we have to work with the few reasonable ones we have in order to get anything.  And the more we try to use strong-arm tactics and insults to get them to agree with us, then less likely they will.

And again, that's by design.  This is the system we were meant to have and I support it completely.  I don't want a president that can force his will on the country without the agreement of Congress.  I'd rather have social and economic inequality if the alternative was being forced upon us without our consent.  Because such a system wouldn't work. 

Our government rules with the consent of the governed, and that includes the 35% or so crazy ones who don't know what they're talking about.  And so we're stuck working with people we might not like and being polite, even when we hate their guts; as it was meant to be.  Politeness isn't a vice in modern life; it's a necessity.

1 comment:

Betsy said...

Dr. B, I am not sure how to say this without making it seem cynical. I am 69 years old and have seen quite a bit even in that short time. I have seen that in the context of history, humanity is improving quite a bit. However, the only way I wasn't incinerated at my desk while ducking and covering was that we muddled through and avoided extinction. Now I am watching people in various governments who will refuse to admit global warming is a menace while making money off causing it to get worse. You know I could go on with examples but you understand. Depending on your definition of course, I don't believe I am a cynic or even an extremist but it has become obvious to me that the great tragedy of our species is that we know what we should and could be, but can never seem to reach it. (as every religion seems to understand) I am not an "end of the world" lover, but I think we are going to be a failed species sooner than most failed species. Desmond Morris called us "The Naked Ape", and we still can't seem to get past our primate past. I believe our ancient planet will be going through one of it's many, many upheavals, when most of what we know and value will be destroyed. This is perfectly natural and normal, and to be expected. I don't know how long it will be, but
I am convinced our species will suffer greatly from its lack of cooperation and kindness. This actually does not bother me at all. I am only sorry I have two grandchildren and wish I didn't have any, because I don't know how long priviledged people like us will be immune to climate change and our own stupidity. This sounds very depressing. I actually do not feel that way, if we deserve to make it we will I suppose. But I won't be here to worry about it so I don't. Anyway, I guess my point is, that discussion and argument are part of humanity, but if we never learn to cooperate and pay attention to reality----well we won't be able to reach what we should be and we will suffer for it.