You don’t to look far to find evidence that we have lost out ability to compromise. Whether it’s the Joseph City Council or the U.S. House of Representatives, finding common ground has become uncommonly uncommon.
What we have instead is both sides of any particular issue lining up on their respective 10-yard lines and yelling epithets across the playing field at each other. It leaves all participants looking like spoiled children throwing a fit. It’s not a pretty picture.
Compromising in the public realm has a long and vaunted tradition in the United States. It was back in 1787 that “The Great Compromise” was reached. If you recall your history, you remember that was an agreement that large and small states reached during the Constitutional Convention that in part defined the legislative structure and representation that each state would have under the United States Constitution.
Small states and large states each had their plan and fought fiercely. When the debate concluded, a compromise was reached, and that agreement remains as part of our Constitution.
Unfortunately, were the issue to arise in today’s political environment, the fight would be ongoing 200 years later and there wouldn’t be a bicameral Congress. We’d still be a loose confederation of states with each side blaming the other.
In more recent history, there have been any number of examples of both sides of the political aisle coming together to accomplish great things.
Recall the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, federal law that reformed welfare. The bill was a cornerstone of the Republican Contract with America, yet President Bill Clinton –– a Democrat –– signed it into law fulfilling his 1992 campaign promise to “end welfare as we have come to know it.”
The chances of that important piece of legislation being approved in today’s environment in Washington are slim to none ... probably closer to none.
That unwillingness to see both sides and seek middle ground occasionally invades government at the most local level. A Joseph City Council member recently opined that there was “no solution” to the truck parking issues in the 300 block of North Main.
There are always solutions. Sometimes they are more difficult to craft when the issues become personal, but there is always middle ground. The mark of a good leader is the ability to convince people that life is seldom all or nothing.
Consider the noisy and contentious discussion in Wallowa County about health care over the past month. Once again we hear those opposed to the American Health Care Act, recently approved by the U.S. House. It replaces the Affordable Care Act, or what has commonly been known as Obamacare.
Both sides are inclined to admit that neither plan solves the problem –– access to high quality health care for those who need it. But once again we have both sides shouting at each other and no one willing to stand on the 50-yard line.
Hopefully, the U.S. Senate will step into the role and craft something similar to “The Great Compromise” to move the issue forward. A lot of people are going to have to eat a lot of their words to back away from their positions, yet that’s what is going to be necessary. Would you like fries with that crow?
The next time you engage in a conversation on an issue, surprise everyone by giving your view and listening to all the other views ... and then ask, “so what is the compromise?” The discussion that follows should be interesting, to say the least.