The Art of Compromise

There is incessant talk of the need for conservatives to compromise on their principles, even though Democrats have never showed a willingness to compromise on any of their sacred tenets.  However, there is little thought offered by the wizards of smart in the Republicans Party as to the meaning of compromise and how to effectively pursue one.


Let’s excogitate over the definition of compromise. Compromise doesn’t mean one side giving up the farm; it means a shared give and take on the important issues in dispute.  It also involves shrewd tactics and tough negotiations.

To that end, we can all agree that when one side immediately and publicly states its willingness to concede the main points of contention without a commensurate agreement from the other side, that is a failed strategy for compromise.  We can also agree that when one side fails to state their demands for a compromise, they enter negotiations looking feeble.

The debate over the fiscal cliff is a great example.  A number of Republicans have preemptively announced their support for raising taxes.  Others have said they would agree to raise taxes to avoid the defense sequester (even though Obama has already weakened his leverage by saying that the sequester will never happen).  As such, the entire narrative surrounding the fiscal cliff is a question of whether Republicans will agree to a “balanced approach.” However, Republicans have never gone on offense by demanding specific minimum spending cuts even as a precursor to raising revenue.


The reality is that Democrats have never agreed to anything more than notional baseline cuts over 10 years.  They have not agreed to close down a single agency or office, much less a full government department.  They have not put on the table a plan to eliminate even a few of the 2,184 assistance programs.  And they never will.  So why are Republicans talking about revenues before Democrats are putting welfare reform/entitlement reform or discretionary downsizing on the table?

The same thing goes for Obamacare.  Why is Boehner saying that Obamacare is the law of the land before we even begin negotiations over the tax cliff, which includes numerous tax hikes scheduled to take effect as a result of Obamacare?  Why would Obama feel he needs to negotiate even on partial repeal if we are preemptively ceding the entire issue?

As for illegal immigration, if we run around agog like a bunch of buffoons screaming at ourselves about the need to grant full amnesty and create millions of new Democrat voters in 10 years, what incentive do Democrats have to negotiate a reasonable compromise on the issue?  Why would they feel the need to compromise on reforming our legal immigration system to include more high-skilled workers from the First World when we are willing to supply them with a plethora of poor voters who will help them create a permanent majority?  Let’s talk immigration reform, but let’s put all the issues on the table, including enforcement of temporary visas, tendentious treatment of third world immigration, and welfare reform.  If our enforcement laws against the current crop of illegal immigrants are in need of reform, the 1965 Kennedy immigration bill is also in need of reform.


We all agree that there is a time for compromise.  We all believe in the need to compromise on a number of issues.  But when you have the stupid party negotiating with the truculent party, the last thing you get is compromise.

Cross-posted from The Madison Project


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