In the words of George Will, “gridlock isn’t an American problem. Gridlock is an American achievement.” The media, representatives, and senators all claim to be yearning for some re-entrenchemnt of compromise in government. The American people like it, and left-leaning pundits like it. They say it’s essential to good governance, but history paints a different picture. Compromise was the cancer that kept the institution of slavery alive in the United States.
The Compromises of 1820 and 1850 did little to assuage the friction between free states and slave states. Why? Both sides thought their side was morally justified. Southerners contended that their culture will be forever uprooted if slavery were outlawed, while Northerners felt the whole institution of slavery was abhorrent. Religious justification was pervasively used on both sides. Seeking a third way, some politicians thought that letting the people decide their free or slave state status was proper. It was kicking the can down the road, and led to violence with the Bleeding Kansas fiasco. Abraham Lincoln had the moral constitution and backbone to say “no” to popular sovereignty in the 1858 debates with Sen. Stephen Douglas.
Furthermore, compromise is what killed Reconstruction after the Civil War in the wake of the 1876 presidential election. Rutherford B. Hayes was one of four presidents to be elected by losing the popular vote, but winning the Electoral College. Benjamin Harrison and George W. Bush would follow, but the 1877 Compromise is another event that stains the national character.
The core of the deal centered on the withdrawal of all federal troops from the South that ended Reconstruction, and the appointment of a Democrat to Postmaster General in Hayes’ cabinet. Democrats would accept Hayes presidency in return. As a result, Democrats would entrench themselves in various political apparatuses in the south, and continue to discriminate, disenfranchise, and terrorize the local free black population. Yes, compromise surely has its shining moments in our history.
Liberals are complaining that they can’t get their initiatives in their left-wing goodie bag through Congress. Therefore, they must blame Republicans, and logroll progressive amendments into bills that had vast bipartisan support in order to legitimize some vestiges of their agenda. The lumping of illegal immigrants, gays, and Native Americans into the Violence Against Women Act is a prime example.
Democrats love to paint Republicans, especially the Tea Party, as “the party of no,” and we’re proud of it. We say “no” because we’re ideologically against this administration in every area of policy. If compromise means more abysmal policies, like the last fiscal cliff deal, I’m inclined to say “no thanks” to anything the left brings to the House or Senate floor.
Additionally, what good has compromise brought our country in the past two decades? Ronald Reagan’s Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, amongst other things, granted amnesty to illegals, and we’re still trying to solve that issue right now. Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip ‘O Neill didn’t save Social Security in 1983. The trust fund is expected to be exhausted by 2033. No Child Left Behind federalized the very local issue of education, and its results are dubious at best.
Compromise either kicks the can down the road, or produces outcomes that aren’t worthy of media attention. In a time when we have an administration so disconnected with the inherent values of this country, engaging in hyper-partisanship couldn’t be more appropriate. We should be thanking our Founders for providing an arsenal of legislative action – and the foundation of our government itself – which allows politicians of good faith to slow down the speed of Washington. It’s odd that some of us give so much deference to compromise in government when it has allowed politicians to delay action on key issues, which ends with detrimental results for the people.