Compromise is not a dirty word

Over the past year and change, I’ve had the distressing opportunity to watch as the far right and the far left increase their rhetorical stances and poison the political debate.  One of the facets that both sides share is an absolute insistence that their way is the right way, and that no shifting is to be allowed from that.   Any politician – or any commentator – who strays from their ideal of purity immediately comes under attack.

The end result is a poisonous atmosphere in which accomplishing anything becomes extremely difficult.   When pushed to a “No Compromise” and an “all or nothing” stance, the end result is that both sides achieve nothing.  To the purists, compromise is a dirty word.    While both sides try to paint themselves as being in the majority, or representing the beliefs of the majority, the reality is that both are in the minority.  The much larger majority is more realistic.

In real life, and effective politics, compromise is the norm.  It’s the way society functions.  We negotiate so that we get something in return for giving something.   Whether it’s deciding what to have for dinner, or deciding just how much funding we’re going to give for road maintenance, we negotiate until we come up with a workable solution that mostly satisfies everyone.   It’s not “perfect,” but it’s acceptable.   Nobody “wins” but nobody “loses” either.

Which is something the purists – the extremes – have forgotten, or are unwilling to accept.  The problem is for all of us is that because they are making so much noise, they’re drowning out the voices of those who are saying “just get it to work!”   When you look at the statements from various Tea Party leaders, or those representing the more extreme Left groups, you see them painting the most recent election results as a vindication of their stance, followed by demands that there be no variance from them on the part of politicians.  The real message that was sent is that most people want Congress to stop being “pure,” and get something done.  Compromise is not a dirty word – It’s a necessity.    It may take another electoral slap in 2012 to send the message, because both side’s extremists definitely aren’t getting the message.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Compromise is not a dirty word

  1. majii

    I’m bookmarking your blog so that I can read it everyday. There are too many progressive purists around who demand that the president fulfills every one of their wishes ASAP. That is why I very seldom go to Huffpo and DKos nowadays. You are 100% correct! Compromise is not a dirty word. I don’t think many people stop to realize just how many times each of us make compromises every day of our lives. I have always felt that it’s better to get some of what one wants rather than getting nothing.

    • Thanks. I don’t write here every day – I have other things (and places) I write for as well. I’d also recommend checking out plainlyspoken’s post on his blog. He does a really nice job of examining the idea of compromise as well. Actually, better than I do, damn it! 😀

    • Excellent point. But you see, the extremes are not interested in getting anything done at all. I mean, the problem with purism is that at some point, no one is pure enough. So they’d rather talk about what’s pure than to move the ball forward. I’m sorry, did I say talk? I mean scream like the earth is about to shatter.

      • True, unfortunately. Which is why I said it may take another electoral cycle to get the politicians to realize that the majority doesn’t want them to listen to the screamers, but to get something done.

  2. Dorothy Rissman

    Norbrook, I completely agree. I just finished reading a DFox diary written in Obama wrote in 2005. He was saying that very thing. The diary related to the netroots being upset with Patrick Leahy because he voted for Roberts.

    Being arrogant and nasty does not actually help anyone. Like you, I feel we need to work for issues that we support, but know that we may not get our way.

    • Thank you. I think most people understand that compromise is necessary. 15 or so years ago, much of this haggling over the tax bill would have been over and done with, and it would have sailed through. But because the extremes are insisting on everyone hardening their position, it makes a working compromise that much harder – and yes, we do want government to work.

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  4. Wonderful. I’ve been making this point for awhile now. I’m happy to see you make it so eloquently.