The biggest word thrown around today in politics is “compromise.” It seems that if politicians are unwilling to compromise, something is wrong with them. Some politicians believe they can’t compromise based on certain promises to voters and/or their moral principles; others just don’t want to.
If you don’t think politicians like to compromise, look at what is happening to marriages in our society. A divorce rate well higher than 50 percent definitely indicates that people are choosing not to compromise in their personal lives, either. So what makes us think it should be different in politics? Compromise sounds good, but it doesn’t necessarily give you a solution that produces the best results or even results that you can live with.
Look at the latest vote by Congress on the fiscal cliff. Yes, it was a compromise by both sides, regardless of whether you like it. I recently was asked if I thought things were going well in Washington. I said it depends; if you are on the receiving end of things, you might think it is great. On the other hand, those who are paying more of their money in taxes probably don’t. One of the major issues to the public is that we really do not know what is actually happening in these political compromise deals. I doubt the majority of working individuals realized the fiscal cliff deal would result in a 2-percent reduction in their paychecks.
The same problems exist at the local level. In the recent refinancing compromise to bail out the Carmel Redevelopment Commission, Carmel taxpayers who knew little about the deal packed the council chambers, telling the council to vote for it. I regret to say that, even after attending all but one of the City Council’s Finance Committee meetings, I didn’t know the refinance package would include making no principle payments until 2025 on the $119 million being borrowed.
So why is the public so sold on this political compromise? I believe seeing political compromise makes a lot of people feel good because it resolves a conflict. The lurking danger in making people feel good is that the compromise doesn’t really resolve the problem and may actually create bigger problems. So my recommendation on political compromise is “buyer beware.”