This is the time we need true compromise, but not the variety of compromise wherein nobody gets quite what they want. This only breeds contempt and merely “buys time” while perceived injustice continues, putting off conflict for another day. What we need is the sort of lasting compromise wherein everybody gets exactly what they want. To be fair, there may be some issues on which no such compromise is possible, but far too often when such compromises are presented, they are rejected because those in power cannot afford to lose the issues of division they use in their campaign platforms.
I will give two examples. Embryonic stem cell research has great potential for generating all sorts of medical breakthroughs, but getting the stem cells requires destroying the embryos. Some see this as a form of murder. Understandably, they are against supporting such practices – even through taxes. Allowing private companies to conduct this research legally is bad enough, they reason, but the government taking money from the rest of us against our will to support such practices is much worse. Can there be an acceptable compromise? Yes. In 2001, President Bush issued the rule to restrict federal funding to creating new stem cell lines. Bush never stopped private sector funding. He never stopped state funding. He never stopped federal funding for research on stem cell lines already created. Since the life-or-death decision has already been made for these embryos, it made no sense to him to restrict research on the stem cell lines, which should have been able to replicate indefinitely. Bush gave both sides exactly what they said they wanted. Conservatives didn’t want more people to be killed in their name with their money. Liberals wanted more research done for health improvement purposes. Everyone should have been happy. What happened?
Democrats could not afford to lose a powerful issue to use against Republicans and would never give Bush any credit for solving anything. They called Bush’s order a “ban on stem cell research”, when it was nothing of the sort. In the meantime, the ridiculous right criticized Bush for not doing more, inventing the questionable argument that funding any sort of stem cell research encouraged killing more embryos. Sometimes, you just can’t win.
President Bill Clinton was caught in a similar trap. Patriotic homosexuals have long wanted to serve their country in the military, but many in the military were understandably concerned that there might develop certain social problems in the military subculture, possibly even damaging combat readiness and morale. President Clinton instituted the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Homosexuals could now serve as they had always wanted, but as long as nobody discussed sexuality, nobody would know who was who. Thus, there could be no resultant social problems. Clinton gave each side what they said they wanted. Was he hailed as a hero? Of course not. Homosexual activists insisted on serving openly and the right used this issue to paint Clinton as a far left loon trying to destroy the family.
These compromises should have worked, but a few stood in the way and refused to let them work. How long will we let the most extreme elements of our society sabotage it?
By the way, much of the above is an excerpt from my new book. Learn more here.
Hi, I'm Dan. I like chocolate, hiking, and politics.