Over the past year or few, it seems there's always a lot of talk about compromise between the parties, or more accurately the lack thereof. Democrats say that the Republicans are resistant to compromise, Republicans say that Democrats have redefined compromise to mean getting what they want, and the media wails and moans about how everything would be rainbows and unicorns if everyone would just be willing to compromise a bit. I've always had a more sanguine view that sure, there are times when compromise is good, but, to give an analogy, when someone says they want to stab you in the heart 20 times, a compromise position of just 10 times doesn't really do you much good. Now I'm starting to re-think my stand (not on the stabbing part. I'm still firmly anti-stabbing).
Personally, I compromise all the time. Most often with myself, usually along the lines of an uneasy peace between my tongue and the size of my waist. I compromise with my family, my friends, my co-workers. All of that is fine and good, but I just don't think it scales to the size and shape of politics and government. Let's take a logical look at it, unrelated to any particular issue. If the Republicans believe that what the Democrats want to do is harmful to the country, and the Democrats think that what the Republicans want to do is harmful to the country, then what does compromise get us? It gets us a little of what Republicans want, in exchange for a little of what Democrats want. If only one side is right, then compromise just hurts the country a little bit. If both sides are right, then compromise hurts the country more. Arguing for compromise means that you're working on the assumption that your opponent's beliefs are wrong, as are your own. Maybe my initial assumptions are wrong. Maybe one side or the other doesn't really believe that the other side's desires would ultimately be harmful. I find that unlikely. I personally know plenty of Republicans who claim to view Democrat policies as immensely harmful. The same is true of Democrats and their espoused view of Republican policies. Certainly it's possible that both sides are lying about their views, but that brings up the obvious question, if they don't really see the opponent's policies as harmful, why do they resist them at all?
All of this is certainly not to say that Democrats and Republicans (as well as adherents to any other political philosophies) can't work together. Going back to my stabbing analogy and making it much more literal, I think that stabbing someone even just once is almost always wrong. I think there should be a law against it. I think there is a law against it. Probably several of them. I think that Republicans, Democrats, and nearly every third party out there would stand behind that sort of law. That is an example of working together. But it's not compromise, it's agreement, and that is an entirely different thing.