An attempt to understand the world of current events, finance and the economy on a level that allows me to teach it. I'm a journalist. Oh and the occasional post about family, life and kids!
Is it election season in America? Oh yeah the countless political ads wouldn’t let me forget. With that come countless articles, advertisements, blogs, analyses and dinner-table arguments (aren’t those fun?). Those on the extreme-right have America believe President Obama is an evil and manipulative politician with dangerous disregard for the lives and futures of our children. This argument is a result of the $16 trillion debt the U.S. currently faces. (I’m not going into the arguments). Those on the extreme-left will have us believe the President saved America from a great depression through his vision of government action to stop the recession. There is no question that this time in the United States’ history there is more division and such a large gulf between opposing viewpoints than has been seen arguably since Vietnam. Tea-Party activists frequently blame everything economically wrong on President Obama. Left-wing activists do the exact opposite. The new idea of politics seems to be “compromise is weakness” or “Take no prisoners.” Simply put, this thought process is wrong. This is crippling to the American political system and absolutely catastrophic to economic progress. Extremism is bad for our country, regardless of partisanship.
One TV ad tells viewers that another Obama term will be catastrophic for the county and the world. Another ad tells viewers if Romney doesn’t get elected than we will face a fiscal cliff and financially burden our children and grandchildren. The news has frequently reported potential government shutdowns due to lack of political compromise or unwillingness by one party or the other to negotiate with the demands of the opposing party. The most debated issue right now in the news is the issue of the Affordable Care Act, dubbed “Obamacare” by some. Is President Obama really so bad that the Republicans need to simply repeal and destroy the ACA? I argue that the argument should not simply be one of repeal, but one of COMPROMISE!! (Did I just use that dirty word?). As a nation, the voters will make a decision in early November and if they choose Romney/Ryan, then they choose a different ideological direction for the country, which is what our democratic process is all about. This absolutely does not mean that it is in the best interest of the nation to gut every program that the President pushed for, regardless of whether or not one agrees with it.
This skewed idea of compromise is undoubtedly a result of dozens of factors. Without delving into them all and analyzing each, there is one that is important. This is the idea of compromise as weakness. For whatever reason, voters seem to have a mentality that compromise is bad. This causes an issue in the political system because the U.S. only has two main parties. Of course there will always be random third and fourth parties (Ron Paul, anyone?), there is still only two dominant parties. The challenge this poses is it encourages a politician to appeal to the broadest base possible so he or she doesn’t alienate voters. If a Democrat or Republican has voted for the ACA in the past or any other piece of legislation, their constituents have come to expect that level of support. If this politician decides to compromise on anything about the ACA (for example), often times voters will see that as not being true to his or her party. This creates animosity and can cost votes. Therefore, politicians are prone to not do anything that could lose them their next election….henceforth they won’t compromise.
The reality is this: Compromise is good. There is utterly nothing wrong with compromising to achieve a goal. That’s what make a good relationship work, so why do they not do it in Washington D.C.? Politicians are like bickering spouses that never really achieve anything, they just argue a lot. If a spouse wants to be in a happy relationship, it really isn’t a bad idea to say something like “sure honey, I know you like brown rugs in the bathroom. I think they’re ugly and want pink, but that’s fine. We’ll compromise on that. I get to pick the drapes for the bedroom though.” One spouse advances his or her agenda; the other spouse advances theirs at the same time, just in a different frame. This is very simple. Voters must stop punishing compromise and start embracing it. Maybe instead of “Obamacare” being described as an evil monster that will ruin the United States, it could be a genuinely beneficial form of medical coverage made up of multiple ideas from both parties. One side advances their agenda while the other advances theirs too. That’s the America we used to be. That’s the America we can be.
DISCLAIMER: I do not in any way endorse or denounce a specific party, piece of legislation or ideological perspective.