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Compromise is at the heart of governance

Editorial

 


Remember when you were a little kid and had to learn, likely through repeated lessons, that you just can’t always get your way? That you have to learn to give a little just to get along in this world?

That’s not just a childhood lesson, it’s a basic principal that undergirds the healthiest societies, keeps disagreements civil and greases the wheels of democracy. It makes civilization itself possible.

But a new faction within the Republican Party rejects that premise, insisting that compromise is evil. Many in the House of Representatives got elected based on that new principle.

This is a tenet of the Tea Party that is based solely on the conceit that their way is the only way that can work and they are 100 percent certain of it at the top of their lungs.

But the country’s history suggests otherwise. Looking back on various impassioned debates in Congress and in society in general, moderns often marvel at how anyone could have taken the positions staked out by reasonable men of history.

The only absolute truth in politics is that if any faction gets its way all the time, disaster will ensue. That’s because we truly do need each other. Sometimes a liberal perspective is more useful and likely to succeed; sometimes a conservative approach is far more beneficial.

The key over the long term, then, is that we are able to consider both approaches. A refusal to compromise, by its very nature, guarantees failure, not necessarily of a current political fight, but of the longterm success of the nation.

Such a refusal stands behind this week’s shutdown of the federal government. Our politicians, and the voters who elect them, need to make a serious reassessment of their fundamental values.

Scott Hunter

editor and publisher

 

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