Patrick Daems | What Became of ‘Compromise’?

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

Is it really that hard to compromise?

I’m quite frustrated about a number of things in our state, to the point where at times I think I want to run for a political spot to help fix things. But I won’t run. To run without being backed by either the Dems or the GOP is just too hard and I do not want to be backed by either party. I’m leaning to the right when it comes to governance and economic issues and to the left when it comes to social issues. But if I were “backed” by either side I’d have to promise 100% loyalty to that side.  

A little before Mrs. Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, retired last year, she gave students this advice. There are almost 8 billion people on our planet, she said. That means there are 8 billion opinions on almost any topic you can imagine. For a democracy to function we must accept that each person is entitled to her opinion. You do not need to like other people’s opinions. You do not need to like people with different opinions. You can argue your viewpoint, but before making decisions you have to listen and speak with each other. Because that’s how you’ll find out that, while we have differences, above all things we do have things in common, Mrs. Merkel said. It means that for almost any decision you’ll need to compromise. That’s how you’ll get the maximum number of people to accept the decision because you’ll have accepted their different traditions, religions, ways of approaching life. That’s also how you’ll most likely perfect whatever solution you thought going in was the best.

When I heard that speech I said to myself: That’s it! That’s what is missing in our country. We have only two parties and those two seem to have stopped talking to each other many years ago. Why is that then, I wonder? I blame the Intellectual Elite, basically much of the media and the tenured academia, who decided in the 1960s that progressive liberalism was the true path and damned anyone who did not agree. They began to systematically block any expression of opinion contrary to theirs, in fact maligned and slandered the not-enlightened. I’ll right away add here that I agree with many of the tenets of liberalism. But the Intellectual Elite did not have the benefit of Mrs. Merkel’s wisdom. They did not, and still do not to this day, show much respect for people with a different opinion. It culminated in today’s woke-ism, in the cultural identity excesses. For a long time it was thought that this suppression of different (say, more conservative) ideas was aimed at a minority, just a few uneducated, uncultured fellow citizens. What do those bumpkins know! But the Internet (thank you, Internet!) brought this silent minority out of the closet. They discovered that in fact they were not “just a minority,” that there were many people with similar ideas. Someone once said that Democrats come out with the progressive/liberal ideas; Conservatives just want to slow down their pace of execution. I think there is some truth to that. It actually goes to the core of the issue. Not everyone embraces change; our brains are in a certain way wired against it. But if change must happen, please Lord, let it happen slowly, so I can fit that change into my personal history and culture and philosophy. That too, that desire to go slowly, must be respected.

Whatever the disagreement, there must be a basic respect, on both sides. There must be a willingness to compromise. It’s a basic component of politics that must come back for politics to become an agreeable topic again to American people. It’s why legislation by way of Congress, not legislation by way of unelected courts, is the way to go, especially when culturally hyper-sensitive matters like abortion or the right to bear arms are at stake. I am convinced that Roe v. Wade having been decided outside Congress is the main reason why 50 years later people are still shouting, and sadly even shooting, at each other over this issue. Legislation in most cases requires that the two parties compromise. That’s the beauty of having issues legislated instead of unelected judges issuing decisions. Why, for instance, can’t our legislators not build a bridge between the women’s reproductive autonomy advocates versus the right-to-lifers? Both sides have serious viewpoints. The majority of people, it has been documented by numerous surveys, want abortion to be an available option, but the majority also wants some serious restrictions, especially after the first trimester. It’s what’s in place in most countries that enacted abortion. 

Come on, legislators, is it really that hard to compromise? We need to re-unite our country.

Patrick Daems 

Santa Clarita

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