“Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon.” -Rorschach
Much to no one’s surprise the bipartisan super committee failed to reach an agreement regarding the national debt. As usual, both sides were quick to blame the other. Whether it be the dogged adherence to no new taxes or an unwillingness to reform entitlement programs, in the end differences between the two parties were too wide to traverse. Many claim they should have found away to compromise. Cooperation after all is one of the most important qualities we expect our elected officials to exhibit. Under closer examination however, finding common ground in politics is easier said then done for a number of reasons.
Political ideology arises from our values and beliefs. Everyone complains about the partisan bickering dividing our elected officials. However, what is commonly forgotten is that each of these individuals are human beings who ascribe to a party representing a set of principles most in line with their world view. For the Democrats it is a belief that government is a vessel to protect the disadvantaged and belief taxes should be utilized to ensure this happens. Even if it means raising taxes on those who are doing well enough to afford it. Meanwhile, the Republicans subscribe to the idea the government should be extremely limited in its scope and taxes should be used very sparingly. This rises from an emphasis on personal responsibility and the belief we should have maximum freedom, whether it be to succeed or fail. While it can be argued the platforms of each party are far more nuanced than this, it does not change the fact those who represent either party do so, because they legitimately believe what they preach. To compromise with someone who holds an entirely different point of view, is to concede that which they believe to be true. Not an easy accomplishment. Just ask Luke.
Politicians have to run for reelection. Even if an elected official is able to make peace and cooperate towards a deal they are not entirely satisfied with, they still have another factor to contend with. The constituent. Commonly forgotten in the debate over the future of this country by the pundits and critics of the government, these individuals are rarely disregarded by the officials they elect. Every decision a politician makes is weighed not only by its validity as wise policy, but also how people back home will react to it. Will they have the same knowledge on the topic? Will they understand sometimes tough decisions have to be made for the greater good of the country? Are they even paying attention? All important questions to consider when determining how to act. Throw in the reality that viewpoints of those who live together are usually similar and its no wonder ideological attitudes trump responsible governance.
Its impossible to be an expert on everything. Elected officials are expected to have knowledge on a wide variety of topics. Your typical politician votes on everything from how we should fund healthcare to how much taxes the average American should pay. Trying to have an extensive knowledge on this information, while attending all the meetings and appearances required by a typical elected official is a challenging proposition to say the least. Throw in trying to have a family or personal life and its a nigh impossible. Barring some sort of Matrix-like computer to brain upload, no one individual can possibly know everything related to policy. What is a politician to do? Well fortunately, (or unfortunately depending on your point of view) each political party has a set of values they subscribe to which can be used when one does not have all the facts. While not the best course of action, sometimes necessity drives us to less than ideal decisions.
Does this mean compromise is impossible? Difficult yes, but impossible no. If a Dwarf and and Elf can find a way to put aside their differences to save Middle Earth, then our elected officials should be able to as well. However, if this is ever going to happen, both parties need to stop the incendiary rhetoric and blatant lies. Obviously, this is easier said then done. Especially considering we are genetically predisposed to defend our beliefs, even when they are proven wrong beyond a shadow of a doubt. What we can do however, is strive to be as informed as possible, so we are able to hold one another accountable as we attempt to cut through the hyper partisan rhetoric to the solutions needed. Its either that or place emergency powers into a benevolent emperor and hope for the best.