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The Art of Compromise: Politics Defined

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In this series, I have thrown around the word “compromise” quite a bit, and promoted its usage as a first, rather than last, resort.

However, if only as a formality, the question must be asked; what is compromise on a fundamental basis? Taken literally, it is the settlement of a dispute via concessions made by all parties involved. Sometimes, it is confused for surrender or capitulation — most often by radicals seeking to enact their respective agendas through brute force as opposed to the democratic process. A wise uncle of mine once described politics as the very art of compromise — one in which it is necessary to become a master should any degree of success be wanted in life. Of course, he was not just speaking of matters relating to elections and partisan activism, but simply going along to get along, whether this be in a job, relationship, or understanding social hierarchies. The notion that everything truly boils down to the political could not be more correct, with the only item of debate being how many will eventually come around to realizing this.

Now that we know what compromise is, it would be a good decision to ponder exactly why so many are hostile towards it. In every era of American politics, as we covered before, deceitful and 2008 Electiondisgusting campaign tactics have been prevalent. At no time, however, had the act of compromise itself been demonized to the extent that was during the aftermath of the 2008 presidential election and span of months leading up to the 2010 midterms. Why did millions of voters, pundits, and public officeholders choose to wage total war against what has always been the cornerstone of methodology in our nation’s political process? What on earth could have inspired them to do something so nonsensical?

Many, such as myself, who have been trying to make sense of this instinctively reach for the low hanging fruit, namely the profiteers of peril and politicians seeking to hide their own shortcomings by projecting them onto those who belong to the “other side”. This is nothing more than a waste of energy, as the aforementioned are merely symptoms of the larger problem, which has been building for several years. From my own estimation, the answer has much to do with the popularized lack of decency in our society as a whole. As I said a few articles back, boundaries which were formally recognized as universal have been pushed to the point that many feel they can say whatever they please without the necessity of consequences. In a world such as this, compromise quickly becomes irrelevant and we all regress into an atmosphere of savagery.

This nihilistic philosophy can, thankfully, be easily counteracted. By utilizing principled compromise while engaging those whom we disagree with on certain issues, a small victory is won in the ongoing struggle to maintain decency in public discourse and move one step closer to mastering that art of life called politics.

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About Joseph F. Cotto

  • Cannonshop

    I suspect each side has come to the same conclusion: that the OTHER side’s definition of “compromise” is really code for ‘Give in on every demand’.

    I know that’s how Republicans see Democrat calls for “compromise” and “bipartisanship”-basically as demands that the GOP office-holders give in to Democrat demands while receiving no concessions of equal value. I suspect hat perception (reversed) exists on the Democrat side as well…at least publicly.