Talking Cultural Diversity

a discussion board for cultural and diversity issues by Thomas Kochman and Jean Mavrelis

The Audacity of Compromise

By Thomas Kochman - 12.08.2010

I remember a scene from the movie Invictus in which the newly elected President, Nelson Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, was asked about having changed his position on the Springboks, the national rugby team that had been a symbol of white supremacy during the South African Apartheid era.

He answered that it was important to reevaluate one’s position when faced with new circumstances.

Implicit among these were a) he was now President of the country not simply a party candidate, and b) his most pressing need was to motivate the white population to get behind his presidency: essential, if he were ever to unite the country and be able to govern effectively.

It doesn’t take much to see parallels between that situation and what is happening today.

President Obama’s willingness to compromise his party’s position on the estate tax and extending tax cuts for everyone to get the Republican support showed him to be the only political realist in the room.

A statement in Time magazine, “The art of compromise, which is essential to democracy, seems to have gone out of style in recent years of angry all-or-nothing politics,” is as applicable today as it was when it was written in 1976 when the Congress was Democratic and the President, Republican.

The result then, which President Obama seems determined to avoid, was “no legislation, and many issues … left to fade or fester.”

Many people looked at Obama’s willingness to compromise as a betrayal of personal principle.

I see it rather as a statement of higher purpose: a determination to see that ordinary people –“Main Street” – and the economy do not continue to suffer more than they have already, even if personal preferences and values have to be temporarily put on the back burner.

This is not a defeat but political pragmatism and a remarkable coup and turn-around in what was after the election, labeled as a lame duck Congress, and, forecast, after the Republican dominated House in Congress is seated in January, as a lame duck Presidency.

2 Responses so far

Thank you for your blog post. It is refreshing to see an alternative proposed and honestly one that I believe to be true. My observation is that we are quick to look at compromise as failure versus progressional steps.

I to think your blog was very refreshing … and I am a firm believer in compromise being a very good idea in this day and age when there is so much need for it.
I don’t believe that you have looked closely enough into President Obama’s “compromises” if you can think of them as progress, fair, or in any way shape or form coming close to answering the promises he made to get himself elected. That’s what really makes me angry when it comes to President Obama. He keeps breaking promise after promise and calling it “compromise”. It is just getting to old to swallow these days when there is not enough progress being made to support or justify all these “compromises”.
Sorry hon just my opinion.
Want to hear a good one…they do say always leave em laughing…lol…My husband is 74 years old and he got a letter in December telling him, From our mighty US Government no less, Social Security Dept. there would be no raise in his check this year due to the fact that the President had decreed that there had been no increase in the cost of living since 2008! Guess none of our Politicians have been grocery shopping for a while… and SURE haven’t pumped their own gas let alone paid for it.
Gotta LOVE those POLITICIANS. They sure can leave ya laughing can’t they?
Its a good thing old folks and the disabled are good at compromising or the government would be buying a lot more of their old homesteads out from under them just so they can get better and better at compromising. Oh my! Another little funny compromise our President has thought of. Loan the people money on their homes when no one else will, at a great rate of course, but keep them so poor that they can never pay it back and oh yes let them live there till they die so they can spend their money on medicine and food and other necessities they have been unable to afford because/until good old Uncle Sam helped them out. I could go on and on about all the wonderful programs that our President Obama has put in place that are really not funny but I won’t because I am getting to upset just thinking about them. Besides, for now, this is enough to make anyone sick.

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