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News Link • Political Theory

Compromise: Political Poison

•, by L. Neil Smith
 Compromise, these Judas goats and stable ponies always proclaim in the most glowing terms, is the one absolutely indispensable, magical key to living and working within that best of all possible political worlds, a democracy. If everybody takes a stance and won't budge, if nobody is willing to give at least an inch (if not a mile), why, then nothing will ever get done! This, of course, overlooks the obvious fact that there are a great many circumstances—almost all of which involve government in some way—in which nothing ever should get done.

Somewhere around the fourth grade, if we have anything like half a brain left after all the indoctrination, we begin to notice certain things about this compromise bonnet-bee that make it clear that it is something less than the wonderful notion its proponents always say it is.

The first is that, since neither side can reasonably expect to get what it really wants. The best that anyone can ever hope for, from a properly engineered compromise, is that both sides will wind up equally dissatisfied. This is not, I submit, an acceptable way to run a civilization. It is a recipe to guarantee the perpetuation of bitter conflict, creating the ideal breeding ground for politicians (like puddles for mosquitoes), for whom solved problems are a threat to their livelihood.

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