American politics. Guaranteed to raise the stress level in any conversation by at least tenfold.
Political polarization and the resulting inability of people with differing ideologies to compromise have brought progress in the United States to a screeching halt.
The public is bombarded with news stories every day that detail immigration concerns, gun control questions, ISIS, and so many other problems it gets overwhelming at times. So many problems to solve, and so little time. So, why can’t we climb these mountains?
Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., where the political divide has never been larger, and the need for compromise and the lost art of the deal has never been more needed. (Photo from the Huffington Post)
Politics and philosophical ideologies have divided this country like never before. Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers, Libertarians, and more all have ideas on how to get things done. What they aren’t recognizing is their way might not be the right way. That fact doesn’t seem to matter. It’s “my way or the highway.” My ideology is completely right, and yours is completely wrong because it disagrees with mine.
Facebook, and other forms of social media, offer a platform for sharing political views, but the resulting comments underneath the post offer a whole lot of people you may or may not know a chance for serious rebuttal, if not downright arguments.
Social media may bear part of the blame. Have you read some of the discussion threads on Facebook regarding immigration? How about the threads on ISIS and how to deal with that very real threat? You see behavior on these threads that would put children in daycare timeout immediately. Arguing, name-calling, cursing, lying, and other general misbehavior abound. While we sit and argue in a virtual world, problems don’t get solved in the real one.
What happened to compromise? What happened to “if everyone gives a little bit, we all can gain a lot?” Aren’t we all on the same team here?
Leadership and the art of compromise are compatible terms, aren’t they? You really can’t have one without the other.
Maybe businessmen and women might be the right ones to send to Washington to lead this country? After all, you don’t succeed in business and make deals if you don’t know how to compromise, right? Giving up a little something to the customer can often close a deal, right?
I am in no way endorsing Donald Trump as the next President. Let’s get that out of the way. But I did find something he said more than a little interesting.
The dailybeast.com website detailed a meeting hosted by a group called No Labels, a central-leaning political group that brought together a handful of presidential hopefuls, who each gave a speech before the members.
The website points out, correctly, that divisions in Washington are bigger than ever. Trump was quoted as saying, “Compromise is not a dirty word.” As stubborn as Trump is known to be, that might be a surprise to you, because it was to me.
As an example, Trump offered a story in which he brokered a deal between politicians and unions in New York City to help finish an ice skating rink in Central Park. The project had suffered from mismanagement for years.
Trump said, “It’s (compromise) in all the business schools. They study it. I didn’t learn it – I did it.”
The dailybeast.com writer called Trump “someone who wouldn’t simply untie the Gordian knot, but one who would cut right through it.”
What would life be like if we would just talk to each other. What if we relearned how to compromise?
Does the voting public deserve some blame for the gridlock in Washington? Probably.
Craig Chamberlain made a good point in an article on the University of Illinois website. He said, for the most part, Americans tell pollsters that they are moderate on most of the important issues and they want the people they send to Washington to compromise and get things done.
Are Americans perpetuating the polarization in Washington by sending ideologically extreme candidates to D.C. every two years? (photo from huffingtonpost.com)
But, in the same breath, Chamberlain said American voters help perpetuate polarization in D.C. by continuing to elect ideologically extreme representatives. We don’t seem to learn from our mistakes. How many times have we seen extreme polarization make it difficult, or even impossible, to get things done for the good of our country?
I really thought Jim Totcke hit the nail on the head in a letter to the Editor on the havasunews.com website. He said, “Contrary to what the political parties in Washington might believe, compromise is what reasonable, civil people must do in a civil society.” When did we forget that?
Here is an even better point: Totcke said, “No single political party has a monopoly on good ideas. Why not utilize the best and brightest of both parties?”
Given the current polarization of politics, and the actual dislike that members of one party have for the other, it may be hard to believe we’ve seen genuine efforts to reach across the divide in the past. Believe it nor not, we have.
Dave Spencer is the founder of a group called Practically Republican, and he wrote a piece on the huffingtonpost.com website. He offered up Ronald Reagan, who many in the Republican Party consider a standard bearer for all that’s right in the Party, as an example of just how different things have become.
You’ve heard the term RINO, or Republicans In Name Only, in today’s political vernacular? Spencer said Reagan wouldn’t even qualify as a “real Republican” by today’s standards. He did lower taxes his first year in the Oval Office, but raised them four times during the rest of his tenure. He backed gun control. He was the first President to host an openly gay couple for an overnight stay at the White House.
Most notably, Reagan was noted for talking to the other side of the political aisle on the regular basis. Even though he may not have done precisely what the Democrats wanted, he genuinely listened, and that gave him a lot of credibility.
In a piece titled “Death of Horse-Trading on the Hill,” CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash pointed out that the 2015 Congress contained more than 40 Senators had served 4 years or less. Bash called it a, “Lack of experience in the art of legislating – knowing what it means to give a little to get a little.”
It’s time to act like adults, and not bickering children who have to have everything their way. It’s not too late, yet.