The Grand Compromise

There was a day a couple of weeks when I thought, at least for a few minutes, that our country was getting back on the right track.  It seemed as though, almost overnight, we had come to the Grand Compromise that we so desperately need.  Then the moment passed, and we were back to business as usual – acrimony and gridlock.

What was it that gave me such great – and misplaced – optimism?  Two news stories.  One was that the governors of several blue states (as we like to call them these days) were ending state-wide mask mandates in schools and otherwise pulling back on mandatory COVID-19 restrictions.  The CDC and plenty of physicians tried to sound the alarm about a premature return to what we consider more normal life, but it was clear they were on the run.  Caught in the middle as he so often is, President Biden mumbled his way through this development, making it obvious that he didn’t really mean it when he said during the campaign that he would “follow the science.”  Instead, he licked his finger, held it in the air, and said, essentially, “we’re going this way.”  You don’t have to be a weatherman, and all that.

The other story was Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell declaring that Republicans would not allow the radical right to take over the party.  In particular, he demonstrably rejected efforts by the Republican National Committee to censure Republicans who supported the investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol.  He rejected out of hand the claim that the attack was “legitimate political discourse.”  Questioned about McConnell’s challenge, Kevin McCarthy took the coward’s way out.  Instead of defending the insurrection as legitimate, as he’s done in the past, he held his finger in the air and said Republicans “should have been clearer” about what they meant.  Like his namesake of seventy years ago, McCarthy, too, was on the run.

There it was, in two news stories side by side, the Grand Compromise the country so desperately needs.  The Democrats seemed to be agreeing that they would stop using the power of government to override personal freedom in pursuit of a world they deem to be more just, and the Republicans were backing off the idea that they could use the power of the mob to remake the U.S. in their image, an image where the winners are winners and justice be damned.  Both sides seemed to be disavowing the ideological struggle in favor of the practicalities of legitimate compromise and governance.

It’s not that the objectives of the combatants are wrong.  The Founding Fathers wanted both personal freedom and justice for all.  The problem has been that the left wing of the Democratic Party and the right wing of the Republican Party have been so willing to sacrifice one objective for their own perception of the other.  COVID-19 restrictions are an assault on personal freedom, justifiable only in the most extreme of circumstances.  Thinly veiled efforts to restrict voting rights and overturn election results would substitute hooliganism for rational democratic processes.

Unfortunately, it seems there was no actual Grand Compromise, just the coincidental confluence of news stories that gave that impression.  Wouldn’t it be nice if Biden and McConnell actually sat together for a little while and crafted the compromise that we need?  Really, it shouldn’t be that difficult to agree to reject the tyrannies of the right and left.

2 Replies to “The Grand Compromise”

  1. I expect that Biden could and would make such a deal, but McConnell would not, both because he lacks leadership qualities and he understands that the wacky wing of his party wouldn’t stand for it. I guess this is really one reason, not two.

  2. Exactly so. It is my heartfelt belief that most Americans are good, rational people that believe in these principals. The real villains here are main stream and social media that love to give a stage to extremists for their own benefit. The Facebook scandal is clearly instructive in that these institutions profit more financially by promoting controversial, sometimes blatantly false content even if it is at the fringes of society and not representative of the nation as a whole.

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