“The fellow who says he’ll meet you halfway usually thinks he’s standing on the dividing line.” –Orlando Battista
When you hear the top political candidates speak, one of the more common qualifications you hear them push is their ability to get compromise between democrats and republicans. What does a bipartisan compromise mean in America?
These are a few ways we compromise to break the deadlock:
- One is when individual representatives decide to sacrifice their convictions on the current issue in exchange for pushing through their own pet project they know would never fly otherwise. We call this pork.
- Another is to remove all the parts of the bill that are offensive to anyone, usually removing the taxes that will pay for the project, or the regulations on how it will be used.
- Or they can just spread panic and try to push it through under public pressure before realization and regret set in.
- Or they can just reallocate the money from something vital and force the other side to re-fund that (as seen with the Iraq surge, and California budget under Schwarzenegger)
None of these are helpful. The second example, splitting the difference, is what most often appeals to the public. This is like having each party with a hand on the steering wheel. The Democrats wanting to turn left, the republicans right; meanwhile the media is in the back seat rooting for the underdog. We will hit the center divider every time.
There are ways to affect compromise that aren’t dirty. An example would be this plan put forth by Bob Ingles. He proposes starting up a carbon tax (democrats want), but offsetting the tax by reducing taxes elsewhere, such as income taxes (republican opposition evaporates). I’m a fan of taxing problems to fund solutions. Pollution is a much bigger problem than income. If we give the free market incentive to clean up, they will do so. Since this is as much a behavioral issue as a technological one, I would consider it progress. Imperfect progress (for much the same reason as traffic cameras), but still far better than the business as usual methods of compromise.