It takes a strong man to urge compromise in the face of gridlock

I usually tune out most car ads, unless they are really catchy. The recent Cadillac ad caught my attention, but not in a good way. The current Cadillac ad uses the tag line, “It’s a weak man who urges compromise.” I think I understand what they were going for there – they’re talking really about not compromising on the car features or design; but, it doesn’t necessarily come across that way.

As it sounds on TV, the ad is actually offensive to anyone who sees compromise as the best way to get out of the current arguinggridlock that has governments and state and national levels effectively stalled. It is the weakness of being unable to compromise that has caused the great divide between the parties at all levels. It takes strength and conviction to do the right things sometimes. Those are character traits that are obviously lacking in our Michigan State government and which have been lacking at the Federal level for years.

In life there are seldom situations where some level of compromise is not required by some or all of the parties involved. As soon as the number of people involved reaches two or more there will be differences of interpretation or opinion on almost any topic. Some people like to hide behind words like “truth” or “facts” to defend their interpretation of things; but facts and truths are perceptions of reality and each person has their own perception of the world around them. What you present as a “fact” or as being undeniably “true”, I mightthe truth perceive as being a distortion of what I see in the same event. Just ask the various groups involved in the recent spate of police shootings what the facts are and the truth about those events. See what different realities there are in their answers.

So, if there are different perceptions of reality driving the decisions that are being made all of the time, how does anything get done?  Through compromise by all parties involved. I can’t see things the way that you do and you don’t know where I’m coming from; but perhaps if I give a little and you give a little we can reach a middle ground and get things done. If both of us refuse to take that step towards each other’s perceptions of things, gridlock occurs. That’s where both Lansing and Washington are at right now – a refusal by the politicians to move towards the middle in order to find enough common ground to get anything done.

At both the state and national levels the root problem is the same. For the most part, the people who are there are professional politicians and professional politicians are more concerned about getting reelected than about getting things done. Getting reelected means spending big money. The businessmen behind the scenes, who control the money, control the politicians by doling out the money; and, for the most part, doing nothing is what they would prefer. On occasion they may have their politicians go fight a war somewhere, if their business interests are at risk; but, the rest of the time gridlock works in their best interest by keeping the government from interfering too much in their business world. Let the common people grumble; just keep the politicians fat, dumb and happily running for reelection and all will be fine.

I recall the days when there was a spirit of compromise in Washington – the days when there were moderates in both parties who could reach across the aisle and forge solutions out of compromise. Those were the days before the litmus handshake2tests that all candidates must now pass to convince those in their party’s so-called “base” that they are conservative enough or liberal enough to deserve some of the support and money that will allow them to be elected (reelected).  There is no longer a place for a moderate Republican or for a conservative Democrat, so there is no longer a place for compromise. It’s sad, really; but eventually the pendulum will swing back towards the middle. That may not happen in my lifetime; but hopefully it will happen before the current political gridlock permanently and irrecoverably damages America. Wouldn’t it be sad to join the other nations that once had great power and respect around the world, only to be done in by their own inability to change with the times? It takes a strong nation to urge compromise sometimes. I hope that we still have that strength.

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