Sam definitely has an ego. This ego allows him to think that he has unique and important insight on issues currently facing the planet. The Eyes Filled with Sand column is where he'll stand on a platform and shout his opinions, formed by being a liberal in Texas. He hopes you'll join in the discussion, because he thinks an exchange of ideas and viewpoints can only help, in the long run.
Today we're going to play a sort of Where's Waldo game, one I call "What Happened to Compromise?" The rules are simple, all you have to do is help me figure out when, exactly, compromise became a dirty word in American politics and social life.
Seriously, it's bewildering. We're a nation of 300+ million people. There is absolutely, positively, no way that a straight-forward, my way or the highway, bullrushing manner of interaction and government can possibly function in the world in which we now live. I cannot stand people, and I do mean the Tea Party here, who think the founders would be proud of them in some way, shape, or form. They act as bullies, they champion ignorance, and show no indication of being able to listen to opposing viewpoints. Now, back to speaking in a broader sense, how does this make sense when anybody acts in such a manner in America?
We're a democracy. And yes, I know it's technically a democratic republic, but I'm not here for semantics, I'm here for something bigger. The very underpinnings of this form of government consists entirely of majority rule tempered by compromise with minority representation. That's why we vote, that's why candidates debate, that's how we keep the nation from crumbling under the stress of being pulled in too many directions at once.
Do you know what happened last time the country filled up with people declaring that they would compromise not one iota on sensitive public issues? We had a civil war, people died, horrifically large amounts of blood were spilled, and almost 150 years later, people are still angry about some of the issues raised, like idiots in Mississippi wanting to outlaw interracial marriage.
But that was after the fact that people had stopped compromising. That was the outcome of trying to bully your viewpoint in over someone else's. Henry Clay, one of the greatest politicians that ever lived, almost singlehandedly kept the war from happening for years by himself. Now yes, I know the issues at hand were about the very basics of human decency guaranteed in our own bill of rights, and not the petty bickering that our arguments consist of nowadays, but that's a whole other column. This one is about compromise, the likes of which southern politicians and cowardly secessionists refused.
On that note, secession is another spectre that's perpetually raising its ugly head time and again, from people unwilling to compromise on issues. They want it their way, or they want to leave. You know what? That's how children and cowards act. Twice now I've called secessionists cowards, and I will continue to do so. I love this country, I wouldn't leave it permanently for anything. Yeah, I'm a leftist, very much so, but dammit, I will coexist with conservatives and objectivists, because I have no problem with others enjoying the freedoms I have. I would never leave because of a petty political disagreement. Something happens that I don't like? I vote. I yell. I do the things allowed by me in our consitution. I don't threaten to leave or make my home territory leave. The people that do advocate such ridiculous things are petty, small minded, gutless traitors to this nation.
So again, I ask, where did compromise go? Why won't people work together? It's not like it's impossible, because it has happened before in the past, multiple times. The writing of the Articles of Confederation. The writing of the Constitution. The writing of the Bill of Rights. The Civil Rights Movement. Roe v. Wade. These things all proved that people can exist in situations that, intellectually, they disagree with. Nobody exploded or was sent from this earth to a fiery doom because we started treating minorities like humans and allowing women to have complete control over their bodies. Compromising is not hazardous to your health.
That said, you know what I think? I think compromise has fallen drastically out of fashion because compromise is hard. It's difficult and makes your brain work in ways it normally doesn't, thinking about things you normally dislike. Being a bully, though, is easy. Acting like a jackass with a gun permit and telling the"guvmint" you're gonna secede if they don't do exactly what you want is easy. Being a fanatic follower of a religion OR being a fanatic atheist is easy. You decide what you believe and shut everyone out, because thinking you may have to find a way to coexist with "those people" is just so darn hard. Compromise is not for the faint of heart. You have to work at it. You have to be willing to bend your own rules. It doesn't make you less of a person, or less honest. It means you're open to finding a way to spend your day without killing somebody for being different.
I challenge anyone who is a fanatic, inflexible thinker to stop. To open yourself up, you people on the left, right, atheist, religious, objectivist, or marxist side of any equation. Hear people out. Hear what they have to say. Find a way to live peacefully next to each other. Stop getting at each others' throats, because we're all running out of our leeway with being so inexorable in our ways. And no, I don't mean 2012, I mean in general.
That's all I have for you today. I hope you'll join the discussion in the comments, just do your best to keep it civil.
Sam is the founder and EiC of zeitgeeks. He knows that a love of the works of Brian Wood and Hunter S. Thompson had a lot to do with the existence of this column. Reach him on twitter here or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org