Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Compromise and politics

By: Frank Von Mehren ’16

The United States of America has had great men serve as our leaders. Men like Ted Kennedy, Richard Lugar, or even George Bush Senior. Ted Kennedy was the fiery Massachusetts liberal who simply got things done. Lugar is lesser known. The eighty-year-old incumbent Senator just recently lost his primary race to tea partier Richard Mourdock. George Bush Senior was president who seemed destined for two terms. What was the one thing that defined all of these public servant’s political careers? One word: compromise.

These men are now gone. Some of their replacements are decidedly less keen on the word compromise. Mourdock had this to say on the topic:

“I certainly think bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view. … If we [win the House, Senate, and White House], bipartisanship means they have to come our way, and if we’re successful in getting the numbers, we’ll work towards that.”

When we have ultra-partisan elected officials, nothing ever gets done. What results is the mindless debt-ceiling stand off of two summers ago. We get Republicans or Democrats afraid to cross the aisle for fear that their seat will be gobbled up by some tea party candidate promising to reject compromise outright. We as Americans inherently dislike the word compromise, albeit how necessary it often is. To us it means settling for less, or going backwards even. We have this vision of our leaders as unyielding stalwarts on all fronts, bold and pure.

Some might say that they dislike compromise because it leads to incoherent legislation. A Boston news article pointed to this example, “A compromise on immigration, for example, might mean combining ideas that seem to work against one another, like amnesty for illegal immigrants and strict rules criminalizing illegal immigration.” However, the alternative to this is worse. Nothing would ever get done without compromise and we as voters need to remember that.

I believe we need more men like Ted Kennedy, Richard Lugar, and George Bush. Bush arguably lost the race for his second term because he compromised on the issue of raising taxes. However, he compromised because he believed that that was what America needed at the time. When asked in a recent HBO documentary if he regretted that decision, he responded, “Nope, it was right.” We need public servants with the desire to work together towards the common good, not people full of partisan rhetoric. A vote for these people is not a vote for those who stick to their values; it is a vote for the status quo.

There has been a lot of talk about the differences between the two presidential candidates this November. I think it would be more pertinent to talk about how both parties can work together towards the strengthening of our country.

An attitude of us vs. them does not help the country and I would hope that our leaders remember that. I pray that come November, we as a country decide to vote for progress, not for hollow words.

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