Compromise Cannot Mean Capitulation
Eighth in a Series
This is the eighth of a series in which Moore County’s Republican and Democratic party chairmen will address various political issues. Today's issue deals with the newly installed Congress. Jim Heim is chairman of the Moore County Democratic Party. Robert M. Levy is chairman of the Moore County Republican Party. Click here for Heim's take on the issue.
During the Cold War, a friend of mine once told me of what he called a “Soviet compromise.”
It occurs when, after years of savings, you buy a brand-new Ford truck. Proudly, you bring the new truck home. Then, your neighbor, in the midst of his statement of glowing admiration, suddenly argues that the vehicle ought to be his.
You bought it. It’s yours. The neighbor’s statement is absurd, and you tell him so. “Well, then,” the neighbor responds, “let’s compromise. We’ll sell your new truck and split the proceeds.”
In 2008, when the Democrats got their “filibuster-proof” Senate majority and overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives, they were not interested in compromise. Bills were passed without representatives or the public knowing their content. Billions were spent on pet partisan projects in support of traditional Democrat allies like unions and state government workers.
In fact, so much money was appropriated that the biggest problem was that states and cities could not spend it fast enough. And all this was done without even passing a budget for the last fiscal year.
Between 2008, when they lost the presidency, and the 2010 Congressional elections, Republicans worked hard to get their message out: It was unwise to give Democrats unchecked control over the Congress and the White House. By hard, grassroots organizing, Republicans finally obtained the votes that had gone to Democrats two years before.
But after the Republican Party got its electoral victory, the Democrats wanted to “compromise” by claiming half the Republican victory to be theirs. It did not work in the Cold War, and it should not work now.
Yes, compromise is necessary for effective government. But to the extent compromise means socialized medicine, but only at a slower pace, or out-of-control spending, only in a less rapid fashion, then the idea of “compromise” is the same as the idea of “capitulation.” “Compromise” cannot mean “surrender,” leaving as the only issue the rate at which the forces of freedom give up their arms.
The method of compromise in Democratic Washington has been the “political payoff.”
If one senator will not support a bill, you build him a “bridge to nowhere” or use the Treasury to make his pork barrel fatter. The money borrowed from China makes the senator’s re-election more certain and the rest of America more destitute.
If there is a message in the most recent congressional election, it is certainly that people want the health care reform law repealed. But to stop with this analysis alone is like trying to evaluate an apple pie by just tasting the crust.
The American people want Washington to conduct its business in a new and open 21st century manner.
Bills must be placed on the Internet so the people can comment before they become law. Politicians must be unafraid to test their policies in public discourse before voting for new burdens on already fragile freedoms.
Compromise is important and indeed essential to proper American government. But it requires a precedent of open, public debate to which politicians must listen and act accordingly.
This Congress — which will sit between 2011 and 2013, one house Democratic and one house Republican — can govern effectively with the essential compromises that must be made. It can and will pass a budget. It can and will reverse the march toward government-controlled health care and a centrally planned economy. But it will only do this if the people of the United States remind their leaders that government “derives its just powers from the consent of the governed.” Legislation cannot be passed now and explained later.
Americans expect compromise. The Congress can deliver it. Spending can be decreased. Legislation can be refocused on promoting free enterprise rather than government control. But it can only be delivered when disinfected with sunlight. To do less would not be compromise; it would be the continuance of corruption. And America has no more money to waste on the corrupt practices of the past, whether or not it is called “compromise.”
If politicians possess nothing else, they do have a general sense of the mood of the people who elected them. This writer suspects that most senators and representatives have already come to the conclusions outlined above.
Therefore, we should all be optimistic about the possibility of real congressional compromise.
Open debate about the weakness of the dollar and the resulting rise in the price of fuel will require new solutions that may defy the traditional barriers between Republicans and Democrats.
Our country was founded upon the idea of checks and balances. The election of 2008 gave too much power to one party alone, eliminating the necessity of compromise. The election of 2010 took back some of that power, making compromise a requirement.
Having stripped the Democrats of their power monopoly and having given clear instruction as to the conservative direction to which they want to take the nation, a working majority of Republicans and “Blue Dog” Democrats within Congress will recognize the current reality.
Therefore, they will govern more effectively and openly than the Congress just past with a proud 21st century spirit of true compromise.
Robert M. Levy is chairman of the Moore County Republican party. Contact him at Law52@prodigy.net.
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