I honestly never saw myself as a bully, but looking back at it all now I can clearly see what I was. In high school, a young woman who I was casual acquaintances with at that point, laughingly told me that once in elementary school I slapped her across the face because she kept advocating for a different game than the one I wanted to play. She may have laughed about it but I was shocked. I have zero memory of this incident but I cannot outright contest it because I know that I was a very strong-willed child who did not like to compromise.
As a near-adult, learning that I may have physically hurt someone because I didn’t want to give in, was well — sobering. It honestly scared me a little and it shamed me a lot. But it also made me very, very grateful that I did, in fact, grew up and learned the art of compromise.
I feel that as a society, we have reverted to our baser selves and have begun to abhor the idea of compromise.
And that’s no good.
Barry Goldwater once said that politics and governing demand compromise.
He was right. It does. And when we have entire political parties taking no-compromise pledges, progress on all fronts grinds to a halt.
Earlier this week, Congressional Democrats struck a deal to reopen the government with the GOP. The deal essentially funds CHIP for 6-years (funding for CHIP had previously expired and the GOP refused to bring it to a vote thus jeopardizing the health care of approximately 9 million children in our country) and it reopens the government until February 8, 2018. In addition, the Democrats obtained public assurance that the GOP will allow a vote on DACA. DACA is a program instituted by the Obama administration that protects approximately 800,000 illegal immigrants who were brought to our country as children from being deported. In September of 2017, President Trump decided DACA would expire in March of 2018 unless Congress took action. Public support for DACA is overwhelming and the consequences for it expiring are truly terrifying for families and could be devastating for our economy. Once this deal was struck however, people immediately took sides. Trump and company proclaimed that the “Democrats Caved” and Democrats worried that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sold out DACA recipients, those supportive of the DACA program, and of course, larger immigration reform.
And while, as a former playground dictator, I understand the urge to be terribly unsatisfied with not immediately getting everything you want — I feel that these knee jerk reactions against good ole’ compromise cannot possibility be good for us as a society.
As much as I wish everyone in our country would decide to tighten up on gun control, stop spending massive amounts on beefing up our military, start investing more in early childhood education (and education generally), declare healthcare a basic human right by changing to a single-payer system, and make serious progress on prison and immigration reform, I realize that’s not going to happen. It just isn’t. At least not any time in the near future. But the next best thing is working towards those things in a multitude of ways. I can obviously advocate for them personally; I can call my Congressmen and write letters until my hands cramp. I can help raise the next generation to be better and to do better by teaching them to that love, compassion, and empathy are the keys to everything — looking at you #LittleLadyHolland. But I can also compromise and get some of the things I want now in the hopes that in the future, as the situation and demographics of our country evolve, I can get even more of the things I want. That allow can change minds, change representation and ultimately, it can change votes.
Compromise is not a dirty word but we are treating it like it is. Compromise should be a word that invokes pride because strategic compromise is truly a fierce thing to behold. It is truly magical to “fold” in a such a precise way that you end up getting exactly what you wanted anyhow all while your opponent is none the wiser. Young playground me did not understand that and now, I fear that America does not understand that either.
Despite all the outrage at the deal Schumer reached with the GOP, I am okay with it. I now know that millions of children — the most vulnerable among us — will be okay and that their parents are no longer losing sleep at night wondering how they will afford medications when their state funding disappears. And I know that DACA is going to get it’s day too — it’s not now and yeah, that ticks me off. Hell, it ticks me off that DACA or CHIP were both on the table at all thanks to GOP tactics. But they were. And now, thanks to some strategic compromise on behalf of the my party’s leaders, the GOP will not be able to continue kicking them down the road forever.
I don’t want to be that person quoting Maroon 5 in a political piece, but I think they may have honestly said it best: “It’s not always rainbows and butterflies. It’s compromise that moves us along.”
And I truly believe that compromise will, eventually at least, move us along.
So I think that it’s high time we leave the playground bullying behind, all grow the heck up, and start embracing the act of compromise.