Catholic Husband

Love, Lead, Serve

The Art of Compromise

Two people shaking hands

We live in a large society, and so the idea that we can have things exactly the way we want them is unrealistic. Even in our own marriages and families, when there are two decision makers, neither spouse can have complete control over how the household is run. We need to become experts in compromise, an all but lost art in a society that loves drama and rewards polarization. We achieve more by working together than by remaining intransigent.

Consider our Congress. For years it seems that little of significance has been accomplished. Each political party has so many golden calves that no real issues can be resolved. Neither side is willing to give an inch, on any subject. Neither is willing to admit that they may be wrong, or to make a good faith effort to achieve some greater good. The fact remains that each political group is working to achieve their vision for America, a vision that they believe is what's best for all of us.

The sadness of the situation is that people start too look foolish for sticking to their ideology. In order to maintain their previously stated position, they have to make other statements that are inane. Some call for "reasonable limits" on gun ownership and then completely reject the notion of "reasonable limits" on abortion. So it goes for every issue, with every party, every day. We hold elections, the same people are sent back to Washington, and the cycle repeats.

A good compromise is when two sides give up something that they value in exchange for something that they value even more. I'm ok with adding additional waiting time to legally purchase a gun if in exchange we agree to a 20-week abortion ban. I'm ok with increasing funding for healthcare if in exchange we stop funding organizations that are repeatedly accused of impropriety or engage in ethically questionable practices. I'm ok with raising taxes to pay down the debt to $0 if we put in place measures to prevent us from getting in the hole again.

The true enemy of compromise are those who benefit from dysfunction. If I were a congressman, any one of those stances would bring down the wrath of powerful special interest groups. This is the problem. Our elected officials are more concerned about keeping their jobs than doing them. The blame can’t be put all on elected officials. Shame on us, the voters, for allowing special interest groups to bully us into voting compromisers out of office.

We live in a pluralistic society with many complex issues. If we're going to solve them, we need to rediscover the art of compromise, elect people of integrity, and stop allowing third parties from influencing our elections. Let's find common ground, each give up something that we want, and move our Nation forward.