Stop Trying to Win the Argument

Many people love to argue about politics. They are intent on winning the argument over whose ideas are the right ideas. Big government, small government. High taxes, low taxes. Free market, regulated market. People choose sides and fight.

In government this mindset doesn’t work. Elected leaders can debate and argue, but ultimately government thrives on compromise, not partisan unilateralism. The Reagan and Clinton presidencies functioned best when Democrats and Republicans found a middle ground.

In more recent years, compromise has become a dirty word. Perhaps the last gasp of bi-partisan government was George W. Bush’s deal with Congressional Democrats to get the No Child Left Behind Act passed. It was a major piece of legislation for education reform. People may differ on how effective it was, but at least it was ambitious.

In the years since then, the Republican Party has shifted toward inflexibility. Many of the party’s elected represented compromise as a betrayal or anathema. Anyone who worked with Democrats on anything risked being labeled a traitor. Ideological purity became more important than getting things done. Through eight years of Obama, I’ve watched Republicans collectively refuse to come together on any major bipartisan legislation. Even legislation proposed by other Republicans has been rejected because it was stained by Democratic support and compromise.

Government can’t function this way.

Obamacare draws so much disdain from Republicans, but it was based upon a proposals from a Republican think tank. It was designed explicitly for bipartisan support. Democrats abandoned the idea of single-payer system and went with a middle path that Republicans could support. And yet, nearly all Republicans rejected it, simply because it had been brought forward by Democrats. A Republican-designed program was rejected because Democrats wanted to support it. This is madness.

Now we  wake up to a world where Republicans control every lever of government. They can finally pass laws on their own, without Democratic input. The Democratic minority in the Senate will filibuster here and there, but ultimately the GOP no longer has to win the argument. They have all the power. It’s up to them to make things work.

My only question for America is this: When Republican policies fail miserably, like they did during the last Bush presidency, will you start to accept the fact that maybe compromises is a good thing for both sides? I hope so. Because the last two decades have been disappointing. So many things need to be done, but people would rather win the argument than accomplish anything.

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