Monthly Archives: November 2012

Bring back the moderates (and celebrate compromise)

No matter what election results you’re rejoicing or bemoaning, there’s a lot to mourn. In the last decade, we have seen many great moderates lose primary or general elections or simply walk away from their (sometimes long-held) electoral offices.

  • Olympia Snowe
  • Richard Lugar
  • Arlen Spector
  • Lincoln Chafee
  • Scott Brown

Lisa Murkowski, another fabulous, smart, thoughtful representative, barely held on to her Senate seat in 2010 after losing the primary election to a tea party candidate.

Everyone bears responsibility, but for the last year or two it feels like the Republican definition of compromise looks a little bit like this:

the McConnell compromise

Republicans are guilty of eschewing compromise – and their thoughtful moderate representatives –  in favor of more ardent, extreme politics. Toeing a party line preferred largely by a narrow base has become more important than getting things done.

The results? The paralysis of the last 4 years. Pending sequestration. A borderline Stormtrooper v. Rebel Alliance relationship between our two major parties. Complete dysfunction.

This harsh election season has been divided not on issues, but on lines of class, ethnicity and gender. White men voted overwhelmingly for Mitt Romney, and almost every other group voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. This is an America where everyone feels left out.

Etching these lines of division even deeper won’t make anyone feel better – it’ll just make us angrier – and it won’t help us get anything done. We need a politics of compromise – not of anyone’s core principles, but of our short-term goals. We need to understand that compromise is no sin – it’s a cornerstone of change. We need the bridge-makers who cross party-lines in favor of common sense.

I suggest we commit the next four years to these basic kindergarten principles: Problem-solving, compromise and no name-calling. Leaders like Chris Christie and Mike Bloomberg are setting a new tone, where “red lines” about social issues don’t prevent their ability to be practical when it’s in their constituents’ interests. I never thought I would put these words together, but Governor Christie’s quote from this week captures the spirit we should embody:

“I don’t give a damn about Election Day. It doesn’t matter a lick to me  at the moment. I’ve got bigger fish to fry,” a solemn Christie told  reporters during a morning briefing in which he outlined the damage from  Sandy.
Chris Christie says Sandy first: ‘I don’t give a damn about Election Day’ – Andrew Restuccia (politico.com)

We’ve all got bigger fish to fry – wars to end, a deficit to address, healthcare and education to improve – it’s time to leave today’s politics behind in favor of a practical, action-oriented politics of compromise.