My Turn: Another view on failure to compromise
By Rexx Shelton
If the sheep compromise with the wolves, they get eaten! Compromise is not a god that deserves any worship. A compromise can be possible only when what one gives up or accepts does not violate oneís ideal of what is right and wrong.
In a recent column about Congressí inability to reach compromises, David Post described his experience with ěa mock Congress with students divided into two groups, half serving as a Senate and half as the House of Representatives. Their job was to pass a law based on whether seniors should be allowed to leave campus during lunch.î
That anology is cute but wide of the mark. The students had little invested in the outcome, win or lose. No wealth had to be confiscated to pay for the outcome, and they had no constituents to deal with. Remember, this is a representative republic that we live in, not a democracy.
Now, had the issue been whether or not the students had to pay for those who had dropped out of school, the same fault lines would have appeared that are now dividing the country. You would have some who felt that you should be compassionate for the dropouts, that it was not their fault they could not continue their education. Other would feel that it was the dropoutsí decision, and they should live with the consequences.
Another problem with Postís analogy is a small matter of federalism. Had the schools elected representatives, and these representatives then had to go meet with the representatives from all the other schools and whatever compromise they reached would be binding not only upon their school but upon all of the schools involved ó if all that had taken place, then he would have approached a model of the situation that now exists in Congress.
Todayís Congress, as the country at large, is divided along a ideological gulf that cannot be bridged by compromise except on the fringes. The differences lie in whether or not individuals are entitled to keep what they may legally earn or whether they can legally earn only so much before they have to share their wealth with those who, for whatever reason, cannot achieves such success.
This has boiled down to a fight over taxes and budget cuts in Congress. The liberals believe with all their hearts that ěthe rich should pay their fair share.î The conservatives believe with all their hearts that ěwe don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.î These are not talking points; they are hard-held beliefs that allow for no compromise.
The essence of this disagreement is epitomized by the confrontation between then-candidate Barack Obama and Joe the Plumber.
Joe raised this question: ěYour new tax plan is going tax me more, isnít it?î
Obama responded: ěItís not that I want to punish your success; I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you that theyíve got a chance to succeed, too. I think when you spread the wealth around, itís good for everybody.î
This fight is not going to be decided in the halls of Congress. It is going to be decided at the polls come Election Day 2012.
Remember when Obama promised that taxes would not go up for anyone making under $250,000, and no one would have to give up their current health care provider if his Affordable Health Care Bill passed? Remember the saying, ěFool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on meî?
Rexx Shelton lives, writes and rides in Salisbury.