Whatever Happened to Compromise?

In the previous thread Robin Naismith Green ended a comment with the following question:

Enough blame how about some action and cooperation between the parties?

To which I responded:

Robin, the Tea Party is forcing the GOP to trend to the right at the same time that the Democrat Party has lurched violently to the left. I’m not sure how you get cooperation between such polar opposites. For example, which of the principles that guide your thinking would you be willing to compromise on? Which of our principles do you think we should compromise on. What is the ultimate goal if we both give up a little? Specifically, can you picture a country where we all get along, and how would you accomplish that when we clearly don’t want the same things. Would the ultimate compromise be to make each of us equally miserable?

And then Amazona added:

Good question. But you need to ask the right questions first. For example, the first step toward working together is agreeing on a goal. Cooperation happens when both sides agree on a goal and then only have to find ways to achieve that goal, which usually involves some give-and-take. What we are seeing, and have seen for quite some time, is goals being thrown under the bus in favor of gross and blatant demagoguery.

Example: Let’s say the Left says its goal is to feed poor children. The Right agrees, this is a worthy goal. Therefore, the next step ought to be rational discussion about how best to do this. But what happens is, the Left says there is one way to do this and only one way, their way, which happens to totally contradict the Right’s objective political philosophy, so letting the Left have its way would not be compromise, it would be capitulation.

So poor children do not get fed. BUT….the true goal of the Left is met, which was never the feeding of poor children but the demonizing of the Right, because once the Right has walked away from an entirely dogmatic and unacceptable position the Left can then trumpet its claim that the Right doesn’t care if children go hungry. And this was the intent from the get-go.

So if you truly want cooperation and true compromise, drop the either/or paradigm, and agree that the goals are shared and the only thing left is to figure out how to meet them.

We often talk about compromise.  Compromise used to be the glue that held our government together and made it work.  It was an historic compromise back in 1983 that extended the solvency of Social Security by 2 decades.  But when George Bush attempted to reform and save Social Security again early in his first term, saying publicly that EVERYTHING was on the table, compromise was nowhere to be found.  It appeared to anyone who was paying attention that for Democrats, the campaign value of being able to say that Republicans wanted to destroy Social Security was greater than actually fixing the program for future generations.

So when exactly did compromise die?  And, unless you’re living under a rock, you’d have to admit that, if it’s not dead, it’s at least in a coma.  Many on the Left cite Newt Gingrich as the single individual who banished compromise from the D.C. lexicon, and in some respects, they would be right.  But David Axelrod’s reference to Gingrich as the Godfather of Gridlock notwithstanding, Gingrich’s compromises with Bill Clinton probably accomplished more in terms of historical, meaningful legislation than any Speaker in my lifetime:

So what did Clinton and Gingrich accomplish during this era of (relatively) good feelings? Here are a few notable bills, each of which passed with broad, bipartisan majorities.

Telecommunications Act, 1996 described by the Federal Communications Commission as “the first major overhaul of telecommunications law in almost 62 years.” The House passed the final version of the bill by a 414-16 margin, with 236 Republicans and 178 Democrats supporting it.

Welfare reform, 1996 — a landmark bill to end cash payments and instead encourage recipients to find work. The House passed the final version of the bill by a 328-101 margin, with 230 Republicans and 98 Democrats.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, 1996 — a law that allowed people to change jobs without fearing the loss of their health insurance due to pre-existing conditions, as well as provisions dealing with health information privacy. The House passed the final version of the bill by a 421-2 margin, with 227 Republicans and 193 Democrats.

Taxpayer Relief Act, 1997 — which established a child tax credit, tuition tax credits, and penalty-free withdrawals from IRAs for education expenses and first-home purchases, as well as a decrease in the capital gains tax and limitations on the estate tax. The House passed the final version of the bill by a 389-43 margin, with 225 Republicans and 164 Democrats.

Balanced Budget Act, 1997 — a bill that cut spending in order to balance the budget by fiscal year 2002. The House passed the final version of the bill by a 346-85 margin, with 193 Republicans and 153 Democrats.

My feeling is that today’s lack of compromise is the result of two dynamics: distrust between the parties and the wide chasm that separates their respective agendas.  I’m not sure exactly when the distrust factor entered the picture (at least in terms of modern-day politics), but a good guess would be the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA).

The ratio in the final deal — the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA) — was $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases. It sounded persuasive at the time. Believing it to be the only way to get spending under control, most of the president’s colleagues signed on. He disliked the tax hikes, of course, but he agreed to it as well.

You don’t have to be a Washington veteran to predict what happened next. The tax increases were promptly enacted — Congress had no problem accepting that part of the deal — but the promised budget cuts never materialized. After the tax bill passed, some legislators of both parties even claimed that there had been no real commitment to the 3-to-1 ratio.

So the question remains: how do we get compromise back?  Or maybe a better question: do we want it back?

123 thoughts on “Whatever Happened to Compromise?

  1. Jeremiah June 12, 2012 / 2:44 am

    If one’s aim is to finish off the country, which is obviously the aim of Obama and the Leftists in our nation’s Capitol, then I guess you could say that compromise is dead.

    However, I am not one of those who believes that compromise is dead. I’ll explain why…

    If compromise were dead…our country would not be on the brink of collapse. We’ve compromised so many core values, principles and beliefs in this country. Which as brought us pornography which has led to broken homes and shattered lives, the adoration of, and protection of homosexuality, abortion – the complete dishonoring of life, alcohol – which has led to much the same effects as pornography, broken homes and shattered lives, drugs – the same effect as both alcohol and pornography. Foul language – America’s youth today seems they have no respect with their mouths whatsoever, their minds are riddled with filth that originates with an inadequate upbringing in the home, and why this is, is because we have compromised our core values in pursuit of pleasure.

    With that said, when judgment comes to America, and it’s coming slowly, but it’s getting here…God is going to start with the Church, the many who profess with their mouths to be part of His body of believers, yet live lives that do not show the same, or match what they profess. The way we live, the way we vote, it shows. Nothing escapes God’s eyes.

    Compromise has brought more harm to America than good…America gave the responsibility that the Church has of taking care of the poor to the government, by simply voting for those who devised the welfare schemes, Lyndon B. Johnson for example, and Jimmy Carter, etc. And they gave our institutions of learning over to communists, people such as John Dewey who wanted “free” education for all schools in America so that it could be federally controlled, and thus a brainwashing of the masses through publications such as the “communist manifesto” by Karl Marx. And more recently education has went into the hands of such people as Kevin Jennings, who is an avowed homosexual.

    Let me ask a few questions…

    Would God compromise with sin? You might say “yes” because He gave man free will. But if you read on, you will see that He was sorry that He made mankind at one point, and He flooded the earth, killing all except righteous Noah, and his family.

    God also destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. And one day He’s going to wipe all sin from this wretched, sin-defiled earth.

    Would a healthy bull bison or elk welcome a pack of wolves into his herd? Say “Hey, yeah, you can come mingle with us” … You reckon? Nah, I don’t think so.

    How many people would welcome thieves into their houses? I don’t know too many.

    Do the hens in the hen house, say to the fox, or raccoon, or possum, or weasel nearby “Pssst, hey, you can slip through that hole in the fence, and come in and have all of our eggs to eart”? Nope! I don’t think so! Nor does the farmer who put so much time and energy into raising them. You know, weasels will come in sometimes and clear out an entire hen house, not the eggs, but the chickens themselves, they will attack them, and cut their throats, and leave them lay.

    Or what about bees, do they compromise with the hungry ol’ bear, and allow him to come in, and tear their hives apart, and steal all their honey, that they WORKED SO HARD to provide for their winter survival? Don’t think so! When bees get upset they come out in force. They are ready to send any thieves packing that may mess with their winter stores.

    Can’t we take these normal, natural examples and learn something from them?

    If ever there was a time that we need to learn from them, I would have to say most emphatically that it would be now!

    • neocon1 June 12, 2012 / 8:02 am

      100% on the money jer…..50 years of compromising with the devil (left) has taken America to the brink of disaster, financially, politically, and morally.

    • GMB June 12, 2012 / 2:06 pm

      What Neo, said. 100% on the money there Jeremiah. Great post.

  2. Dvindice June 12, 2012 / 7:11 am

    The big problem I see with compromise is the democrats seem to believe that compromise is where they do what ever they want to and the Republican agree to it.

    • neocon1 June 12, 2012 / 7:35 am

      believe that compromise is where they do what ever they want to and the Republican agree to it.

      BINGO……….marx / alinsky 101

      • neocon1 June 12, 2012 / 8:25 am

        The Farmer and the Snake

        farmer = GOP
        snake = democrat

      • neocon1 June 12, 2012 / 4:08 pm

        Enough. // Moderator

      • neocon1 June 12, 2012 / 4:44 pm

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