Compromise, compromise…

Compromise, compromise… We keep hearing that Congress and the White House should compromise. Democrats and Republicans in Congress should compromise. They should all compromise, we are told, so that they can “get something done” for the American people. Well, wait a minute.

It’s quite a stretch to maintain that the American people just want congress to “get something done.” The reason the government is divided is largely because the people themselves are divided. Some people apparently want the country to move “forward” to install, implement, and institutionalize a collectivist “progressive” agenda. Other people want to revitalize adherence to the Constitution and to the principles set forth by the country’s founders. The repeated calls for compromise suggest that some people want us to believe that we can have it both ways. We can’t. Not as long as we seek fundamentally different goals.

If we consider the concept of compromise, it’s clear that Compromise A is not the same as Compromise B. Let’s imagine that Party A thinks we should drive from NYC to Boston and Party B wants to drive to Baltimore instead. How do they compromise? Can they agree to go to Syracuse or Buffalo instead? It’s roughly the same distance, would take about the same amount of fuel and time. But what good would it do? No one gets appreciably closer to either Boston or Baltimore. Of course, they could create the illusion of progress by negotiating about what time of day they should hit the road, what type of vehicle they should use, and how fast they should drive, but that would merely forestall a decision on the ultimate destination.

Party A might think it acceptable to agree to drive to New Haven, CT, i.e. part way in the direction of Boston. Conversely, Party B might accept an agreement to drive from NYC to Philadelphia. All of these could be described as compromises, but none settles the fundamental issue. Those who compromise on the final destination may find themselves, at last, in East Podunk, Nowhere or, more likely, right back where they started. Those who negotiate an agreement on how fast to drive are “getting something done,” but nothing useful.

If you want to drive from NYC to Boston, you don’t go by way of Philadelphia. if you want to restore respect for the Rule of Law, you don’t do it by nodding and winking at illegalities. When we hear calls for compromise, realize that compromise for its own sake is not a virtue.

Dwight Boud

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