The country is heading toward the fiscal cliff, with taxes threatening to skyrocket for everyone. Politicians are hacking it out with the usual strategies and it’s not always for the best.
A poll by Colby College and SurveyUSA found that a solid majority of Americans say it is more important for a politician to find compromise solutions than to stick to principles.
To ask whether or not compromise is a healthy trend is a tricky tightrope. There are certain, obvious principles to never back down from. Congressman Boehner doesn’t seem to think that maintaining tax cuts for the wealthy would be one, as CNN reports about an alleged source from his camp.
Then there is Grover Norquist, who clings to the freeze of tax rates as his bible. If his disdain toward increased revenue isn’t apparent, his hatred of government should be.
“I’m not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub,” he said to 60 Minutes last year, truly putting ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ to shame as a go-to phrase.
The government can certainly be a bit childish, to put it mildly. We have had politicians wanting to build bridges to nowhere, a presidential candidate’s full-out lie about where Jeeps are made and a former governor proclaim that the lack of religious discussions in schools has lead to more violence.
All of this doesn’t mean that there aren’t hard working American leaders out there that deserve the funding they ask for. There are politicians that have a decent head on their shoulders, like Kyrsten Sinema, who told CNN that “faith is a deeply personal issue that individuals should deal with in their private lives.”
It really pounds home the difficulty of politicians having issues with compromising on policies. Having such a diversity of opinions creates this; the United States has 50 states with different needs, demographics and societal standards.
What is there to do?
The most cold and calculating way is popular vote. Barring an upset by the electoral college, the presidential candidate wins with the majority of ballots. State propositions don’t even use the college.
Individual states rights help, but those can infamously clash with federal ones, like with marijuana passing in Washington and Colorado yet still being illegal nationally.
President Obama’s reaction to it has been somewhat indifferent though, as told to ABC’s 20/20.
“It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal,” he said.
This is a leader, the big cheese, refusing to play cat and mouse with these jurisdictions. He’s making priorities clear in this instance, yet he hasn’t always in the past on this issue which is a constant problem with politicians in general.
Indeed, that is a trap with compromise. We don’t always know what a person is about when they are just putty in the hands of their opponents and even their allies. It goes without saying that there is a balance to be maintained here. Even then, bending can look like a breaking to some, like Grover Norquist.
Representative Peter T. King, a Republican from New York, could end up on his hit list with one of his latest quotes.
“A pledge is good at the time you sign it. In 1941, I would have voted to declare war on Japan. But each Congress is a new Congress. And I don’t think you can have a rule that you’re never going to raise taxes or that you’re never going to lower taxes. I don’t want to rule anything out,” said King, seemingly turning his back to the Norquist pledge for no tax changes.
It’s strange that he signed the document in the first place if he felt this way, which makes it look like a sway in the wind of public opinion.
Compromise or not, maybe it’s that breeze that will be most gentle for a harsh reality of few clear winners.