Whence Compromise?

Below is a ‘two feet on the ground’ quote from the National Public Radio (NPR) website:

“….Democrats call them “American dreamers,” Republicans call them “illegal immigrants.” Democrats say they should be allowed legal status. Republicans say no, they are here illegally and need to go — or their status should be part of a larger immigration overhaul that limits and controls future immigration.

Who Will Carry The Blame For The Shutdown? Maybe No One.

Both sides say they have the American people with them as they struggle to end the government shutdown, and both are right — in a way.

Polls show at least three Americans in four agree the DACA population should have legal status to stay. But a clear majority of Americans also think it was not worth shutting the government down over DACA. That’s true too, and the shutdown is the issue of the moment, right?

Truth be told, neither party is ever in touch with all the American people, or even most of them. They are in touch with the people who voted for them or gave them money (or both) — or who are most likely to do so going forward.

They may say they hear America singing, but they are really only listening to their own section of the choir….”[1]

If we stand back far enough, we notice that the Federal Government is not capable of compromise; there is no dominance by a common-sense political center. From the end of WW II until about 1986, citizens were accustomed to common sense governance when the likes of Fulbright, Byrd, Kennedy, Baker, Humphrey, Dole, Biden, Rockefeller, Daschle, Bradley, Chaffee, LBJ, Dirksen and other moderates controlled the Senate. Deals were pragmatic, in the interest of the citizen majority, and (we may miss this more than anything) a half-hour breakfast between party leaders guaranteed a civic minded bill. It may be important to mention that until Nixon in 1968, Reagan in 1980 and Trump in 2016, Presidents were not demagogues.

Civic minded. Is that what is missing? It is true that an elected body reflects its electorate; are we not civic minded? We are not. We are cleaved by color, wealth, environment, entitlement, guns, religion, drugs, economy, war and basic human value. There is no common cause; there is no way to walk a straight line through all these differences – there is no common definition of America. It is no wonder other nations have begun to look askance at our leadership.

Today, as mariner writes this post, the Senate backed away from civic minded legislation. Both parties chose to salvage their party interests rather than step forward to a compromise that would move anything forward except a continuation of samo-samo: duck reality for another three weeks. The democrats caved rather than stand for moral principle; the republicans caved to the fringe right (Steve Miller) rather than stand for moral principle.

– – – –

Like changes in weather caused by global warming, government suffers increasing incompetency as it is overwhelmed by fragmented factions that do not represent the pragmatic center of our nation. Who is to draw the straight line across a fragmented populace? It is, of course, the citizens.

Start with state governments by eliminating gerrymandering. Political parties, as today’s news suggests, are not centrist in nature. The party comes first and any neutral process is challenged to serve the party’s best interest. Redistricting is severely abused by parties to control specific interests regardless of generic public interest. As a first step in restoring control of our democracy back to the electorate, and having the electorate at large decide what civil mindedness means, make redistricting an apolitical process.

Remove monetary influence from campaigns and from Congressional rules for appointment to important positions, which currently go to members who can raise the most party contributions to go along with length of membership. Monetary privilege will be difficult to stop. Like the proverbial snake, its head must be cut off. Eliminate political action committees; eliminate private donations from outside the district; require promotional advertising to be funded locally. In other words, force the candidate to come to the people, not to the special interests. This will stop corporate privilege in legislative processes and make citizens the more important influence.

Make voting tax deductible. As the leading democracy in the world, we are 27th in terms of voter turnout; only 47% of eligible voters voted in the Trump/Clinton election. Further, allow dropping voters from the roles if they didn’t vote in the two most recent sequential Presidential elections. Further, in addition to in person voting, permit 30-day early voting, voting by mail, email, and links to election sites.

Require civics education in high schools; require election overviews in community colleges; mandate universal holiday for all Federal and State elections. Prohibit campaign promotional sources outside the district.

Slowly, special interests have eliminated the common voter. If the voters want civic minded government, they must assure that their involvement in elections is the dominant influence.

Perhaps a strong moderate legislative process can return…

Ancient Mariner


[1] For full article, see: https://www.npr.org/2018/01/22/579397310/shutdown-question-who-s-out-of-touch-with-the-american-people?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20180122&utm_campaign=breakingnews&utm_term=nprnews

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