Editor: Compromise is a highly charged word. Is it the essence of reason and the key to democracy – or is it a sellout of values – a capitulation? In fact we use the word both ways.
The art of compromise – the willingness to forgo some of what you believe in for the good of the whole – is the lifeblood of our pluralistic democracy. The bottom line in government is the public good. President Obama isn’t compromising with a party whose goal is to do him in because he is selling out to them, but because he is making the best of what could be a disastrous injustice to the American people.
As we thrash around, laying blame, calling names and threatening him with no support and no second term, let’s pause. Many of us abhor the continuation of tax relief to the very richest people in our nation and we are right to abhor it – it is unspeakably unfair if we truly believe in the promise of “liberty and justice for all.”
Is Obama a traitor and a cynic for agreeing to a compromise that includes those breaks for the rich? Not really; he is the kind of leader we need; not an ideologue but rather an idealist and a pragmatist – in the image of our founders.
Those men, in taking on the task of creating a democratic nation, did not address the subject of abolishing slavery because they knew that it would doom to failure their heroic project.
Let’s remember our founders, their vices as well as their virtues, and use similar standards to judge our president. Let’s pursue progress, though the course may be circuitous and packed with ironies.
Democracy is a messy business, but it’s our business – and who among us would prefer the tidiness of a closed society?