Our democracy depends on compromise

CompromiseĀ is not a dirty word when it comes to politics. In fact, the United States Constitution prescribes a form of government that requires political compromise in order for the government to operate at all. Separation of powers between legislative, executive, and judicial branches along with the requirement that every single law, including every single budget bill, must pass both the House and the Senate ensures that almost no one is ever going to get exactly what they want. Instead, our system demands that, in order to make any change to the status quo, our representatives must settle for legislative sausage that isn’t exactly what they think tastesĀ best but is nonetheless better than the putrid mess that will continue to sit on our plates if there is no compromise.

Two opinion pieces appeared in the Wall Street Journal last month that accurately described an example of what happens when congressmen, senators, and the purists among their constituents forget the necessity of political compromise.

Fred Barnes wrote on July 17th about the Republicans inability to repeal and replace ObamaCare:

“Politics is a team sport, and Republicans are playing it poorly….This is an example of why legislative success depends on operating as a team. You don’t abandon your team just because you don’t get everything you want (or want left out). You hold your nose and vote for an imperfect measure, sometimes merely because it’s politically beneficial and better than the alternative.”

On July 20th, Karl Rove wrote:

“….dissenting Republican legislators, by opposing either the Senate bill or the House version, would leave all of ObamaCare intact and all of its problems unsolved. The rebels have let the incomplete be the enemy of the good.”

Consider a different example. Should those of us who believe abortion is wrong and should be illegal only support legislation that completely outlaws abortion? Isn’t it better to support compromise legislation that puts some limits on abortion, for example, the requirement that the parents of minors seeking abortions should be notified? Isn’t a half loaf better than no loaf at all?

Purists of all political persuasions need to realize that, given our form of government, holding out for a majority of the body politic to come around to your exact point of view is a recipe for no improvement whatsoever to the status quo and the continued weakening and decay of our republic.

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