LOST: The Art of Political Compromise (A Single Opinion)

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I always love the beginning of a new semester.  My students are attentive, full of hope – and most importantly…in class.  This semester, I decided to join their ranks and become a student in two classes — US History to 1865 and US Government.  Its interesting to be a student, since I can watch the teaching methods of other instructors, as well as how they handle in-class issues…

I will be openly honest here.  I am not a fan of the US Government class, despite the fact it is being taught by one of the faculty members I deeply admire.  As those of you have been reading my posts or listening to the podcast are aware of – I hate politics.  I understand the need for it, particularly in a governmental system that flourishes on debate and argument as a manner of sharing ideas.  However, the (in my opinion) inevitable gridlock that occurs when neither side is willing to compromise…just drives me up a wall.  The American system of politics was designed to encourage the spirit of compromise.  It was never designed for one party to wield its position as the “majority” like a sledgehammer.  This style of politics, in my opinion, is what has “broken” the US political system.  When one party wields its position of “majority” status like a weapon, and EITHER party refuses to compromise on issues for the GOOD OF THE COUNTRY…I step back and refuse to participate.

It has been a long time since I have spoken openly and frankly about what I perceive in the political aspects of the United States.  I have become a staunch, unaligned Independent voter.  I do not see any of the political factions within this country doing anything in the favor of the citizenry that their members are elected to represent.  I see both parties catering to big business and special interest groups through lobbyist system.  I see both parties drawing hard-lines and refusing to reach across those to seek compromise.  I watch both Republicans and Democrats wage political war over the capabilities of a sitting President.  The mud slinging and insults fly further, harder and in greater numbers from both sides.  The various, and much smaller, third parties have moved away from the arena of standing on principles and ideals to enter the fray as what amounts to nothing more than political assassins.  A candidate that I believed to be above the level of mud-slinging referred to the individual that had won the Presidential election as an “Uncle Tom”.  I believed I had found another candidate in the next election that I could follow – he remained principled, on-message, and did not step to insulting any candidate throughout the election.  Once the election was finished, he began to throw veiled insults at the elected President.  And my belief that a principled candidate could arise from the dust of the political fray was completely crushed.

The press is just as guilty in all of this as well.  There are no outlets just reporting the news.  All the news has adjectives added to the material – slanting the story to uphold a particular political point of view or to downgrade the opposite for doing or not doing something in particular.  Then come the instances of free speech – where Super-PACs are given the capability to attacking a candidate in extremely personal manners.  Family members, birth certificates, actions taken during formative teenaged years — all are thrown out as damning examples of why this or that candidate are not good enough to be the right choice for the office they are running for.  I don’t know about anyone else…but my time as a teenager has a whole host of bad choices.  So do my early twenties.  But I am far different person now in my late forties than I was then — I would like to think that I actually learned from those bad moments, and was able to choose more carefully from those experiences.  But if you are a political candidate…those choices are merely indications of exactly how you will choose twenty-some-odd years later.

I watch a lot of my friends step into the political fray on various topics and points.  I get it.  They are defending (in many cases) what they believe – but in other cases they are attacking a position that they don’t agree with.  I just do not understand that.  Nearly every belief system I have encountered discusses the need to respect others – even when their beliefs and ideals don’t match up with your own.  In the case of a few friends – there’s that statement that they follow the examples of Jesus ben Joseph to live their lives.  I am not so sure at times.  I sincerely doubt that Jesus ben Joseph would have called President Barrack Obama the “Nigger in Thief”.  And before anyone starts freaking out and calling me an “Obummer” fan….I did not vote for him in either election.  My support went elsewhere.

No, I am a big “out” on politics.  I choose to sit the sidelines.  I’ll suit up and come in if some guy on the first-string gets hurt.  Maybe.  I might pull a hamstring going from the bench to the field before the first play gets run too.  Here in America, we desperately need to change the way we view politics.  We should be looking for compromise, not trying to find ways to create a “scorched earth” policy when our positions are shot down.  You are probably thinking…hey Tommy, take your own advice.  You’re sitting on the sidelines and not participating because other folks aren’t doing it your way.  You are right…but I do have to remind you…it takes two (or more) people to reach a compromise.  I’m here.  Where’s everyone else??  I would suspect that most folks are out…too busy trying to burn down the barns of their political opponents…

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