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When did “compromise” turn into a dirty word?

I was listening to the radio this morning and heard some of the discussion about the “tea party” rally last Thurs on the Mall. According to the report about a half dozen members of Congress also clamored for microphone and television attention. One member of Congress (I forget who) said that his colleagues often asked about him compromising to which he quoted something about Abraham Lincoln planting his feet and standing his ground. So just for fun I looked up the quote which is:

Be sure you plant your feet in the right place, then stand firm. - Abraham Lincoln

While looking through the quotes, and there are a lot of great Lincoln quotes, I also found the following:

Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough. - Abraham Lincoln

I’ve heard this issue of using the word “compromise” before, on talking head political shows and so forth. Somehow the Republicans and their tea-people are twisting the true meaning of “compromise”.  When everyone walks away from a negotiating table unhappy, you’ve probably got a decent compromise.

The opposite of compromise is conflict. Seems to me that when parties compromise they aren’t necessarily “capitulating” as characterized by the tea-people, they are trying to make the world function better. “Compromise”, IMHO, is a necessary evil if we’re going to live in a civil society, and isn’t a dirty word.

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Tags: Lincoln, government, miscellaneous, tea-party

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Comment by Peter Sperry on April 2, 2011 at 12:27pm
Compromise which settles a dispute permanently may be good but compromise that merely delays action on serious problems is not.  Entirely too many of the problems facing our economy, our nation and our world today are the result of compromises agreed to by wise statesman who kicked the can down the road for future generations to deal with.  Well, the future is now and we are running out of road.  If we do not face our problems head on and solve them, the collapse will fall on our own heads.   During the 1990s and 2000s Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, General Motors, Chrysler and many U.S. State governments went overboard compromising their fiscal integrity.  It hasn't turned out too well.
Comment by James Ferreira on April 1, 2011 at 8:33pm
A quote from the Indigo Girls, "Thing about compromise is don't do it if it hurts inside, either way your screwed, might as well have some pride."

I don't think the problem in politics these days is compromise but rather mindlessly taking a side just because it is their parties side and not giving up no matter the truth. Seems childish may be a better term. What is really needed in our politicians is the ability to be able to look deeply at the issues and see clearly the other side of the argument. Not as a way of discrediting but truly understanding. We all want the same thing, freedom from suffering, but we must see that we share a symbiotic bond. So much time wasted digging in heals.

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