Saturday, September 11, 2010

Compromise? Maybe it's time to try something else

I've been tossing and turning too much, thinking about this. A recent thread at Prometheus 6 helped it to gel.

The use of the term compromise has been bugging me more than usual since Barack Obama got elected and it became obvious that there would be no compromise on high-profile issues. So far it's resulted in gutted initiatives, the Republicans more than earning the "Party of NO" epithet and being proud of it to boot, etc.

I took formal mediation and conflict-resolution training back in the '90s and learned that even when both parties are interested, compromise is usually not good enough for either party. It's what people settle for when they can't do any better. But getting past it, to a collaborative or jointly-developed solution that benefits both parties, is exceedingly difficult.

Compromise is unlikely in the current Washington, and I would guess in many states. That means coming up with truly beneficial solutions is even more unlikely.

Compromise has been ineffective throughout American history. The compromises of 1820, 1850 and 1877 come to mind as examples that didn't do black folk any good. You could go all the way back to the original three-fifths compromise but that's a given in this space.

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