Academic journal article Social Education

Two Words in Need of Redemption

Academic journal article Social Education

Two Words in Need of Redemption

Article excerpt

It appears that the worst name you can call a person is "politician." And the worst thing you can accuse someone of doing is "compromising." Negative attack-ad campaigning, so prevalent in recent years, has made the vocation of politician appear less attractive to young citizens. The difference between campaign promises and the real policy-making that follows an election, usually painfully obvious, has made the art of compromise seem less than respectable.

But honest politicking and honorable compromise are the very stuff of which governing is made in a democracy. To see compromise as unprincipled, or to see politics as essentially filthy and corrupt, is to deny those whom we elect the ability of govern. On the other hand, to refuse ever to yield on one's principles is, in government, to say, "My way, or no way!" Ultimately, only a dictator can govern like that.

In a democracy, there will be many opinions on almost everything. And in a free society, all those opinions will be expressed. We can only move forward through accommodation-or by trampling the opposition into the dirt. Pure ideology, however sincerely felt, can rarely be moved forward as policy without deeply polarizing our society. (1)

Such polarization is becoming a fact in California, where the skills of compromise are never quite learned by a term-limited legislature now made up of amateurs, who in the last reapportionment sharply reduced the number of "swing districts'-areas of the state where candidates have to present themselves to the moderate center of a voting population that has mixed political opinions. …

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