Politics and the Art of Compromise
Politics is referred to as the "art of compromise". It
is essential to a democratic society. Elected officials meet in
legislative chambers to hammer out policies that all constituents
can live with. Successful politicians learn early on the
survival value of compromise. Economist Donald Wittman (1995:
154) correctly observes, "That is what good politicians do:
create coalitions and find acceptable compromises." Also
political philosopher Jean Bethke Elshtain (1995: 61) states "But
compromise is not a mediocre way to do politics; it is an
adventure, the only way to do democratic politics."
II. Reasons why compromise is essential.
Politicians need to be able to compromise and be good
at bargaining with other elected officials. One reason is that in
order to get what is important to them, they must be willing to
negotiate with others who also want support, it's is a trade off
in that each wants support for the their cause and in turn, must
support someone else's cause as well. They must do this type of
bargaining in order to win enough support to get the votes
necessary to win for their constituents. If the constituents
don't see that the elected official can bring home the bacon,
they won't vote for them in the next election. In other words,
without compromise, nothing will be acheived for the
contituency, and as a result the official will not likely
continue to hold office for long.
By the same token, no politicians or voters, will get everything
they want. There must be a majority to implement policy, which
means that means that almost every time supporters of policy will
have to give up something of value to others in order to win
enough support for their cause. This is referred to as
"logrolling." In order to function well, Congress needs members
who understand the need for and have the ability to compromise;
who are willing to be team players and fight for what they
believe without demonizing their opponents, so that they may work
with them again on different issues. A politician who refuses to
compromise is typically labeled as an "ideologue", a title which
has little prestige among members of political class.
III. Backlash of compromise and the role politics play
in regard to effectiveness of compromise.
Politicians who are known for compromise are less
attractive in the public opinion. The public prefers rigid
adherence to principles they believe are important, and don't
generally understand the essential need for compromise, or how
necessary it is to get things done. Because compromise is
essential to being effective for the constituency, each
legislator is confronted by the difficult task of being an expert
compromiser in legislatures while appearing to voters to be an
uncompromising champion of...