Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Public Says It Wants Compromise

Namely, they want it on the fiscal cliff. Yet, every action the public has taken gets in the way of compromise (electing a divided government, remaining blissfully ignorant about Simpson-Bowles, kicking the can down the road for decades to reach the fiscal cliff, not punishing politicians who won't even pass a budget, etc.)

Compromise requires both sides to give something up that they want, and it often requires what is given up to be a little painful for both sides. It requires parties to negotiate in good faith, and it requires stakeholders in the negotiations (that is, average Americans) to pay enough attention and hold people accountable.

If you want compromise, then vote for people who are likely to reach compromises as opposed to political ideologues, whether they be Tea Party extremists or Pelosi-wing Democrats. America will not get compromise if we keep rewarding behavior that has never, in the past, brought about compromise. Now, doing something is not always better than doing nothing, and if the something being offered by both sides is unacceptable, then the only something that will happen is sequestration.

Now, here's the interesting thing about sequestration: Like any bargaining position, you should not agree to it or make a threat unless you are willing to pull the trigger on it. You don't kick in the door to your bank and yell at them about bad service unless you are willing to cut a check to yourself for your entire account and walk to the next bank over and open up shop there, for example. So, everyone who agreed to sequestration made a sort of tacit agreement that this was a worst-case acceptable compromise if they couldn't come up with anything better.

So, just remember that if it happens, and act accordingly.

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