What’s So Awful About Compromise?

“Lasting change is a series of compromises. And compromise is all right, as long your values don’t change.”- Jane Goodall

Exactly one year ago today, the first presidential candidate that I voted FOR, was sworn in. (Oh, I’ve voted ever since I was 18 years old, I just don’t pick the winners usually.)  Wow.

Of course, I’ve been thinking about Barack Obama’s first year in office and in particular about health care reform.  (Me and about a million other people.)

I believe in universal healthcare so I’m… Disappointed?  Annoyed?  Disillusioned?  Well,  to put it bluntly, what I want is so far from where the bill is today, I had to read multiple articles just to find out what WAS reformed since everything I wanted was either taken out or never discussed in the first place.

Many fellow progressives have been equally disappointed not just with this bill but with Obama’s first year as president.  All the work we did to get him elected and we have no voice!  The-right-of-the-left is holding us hostage.  And Obama LETS them!

Oh and let’s not forget the Obama-philes who yell back at the progressives: STOP MAKING IT WORSE!

Honestly, if a progressive senator had held HRC hostage until a large public option was in place, would I have complained?  Nope.  I would have held him up as a beacon of truth and light in the otherwise dismal halls of Congress.  But I suffer from the delusion that my ideas are the BEST IDEAS and railroading them through the legislature sounds GREAT!

For all my beliefs and the countless articles that I can cite to defend my position on healthcare (I know, I know, the right and the center and everyone has COUNTLESS ARTICLES), I understand that some reform is better than no reform.  The millions of Americans without health insurance will get some relief even if I still have to suffer through my private (AWFUL) health insurance.  I have definitely seen that my friends have been better off with some insurance than none.  And sick people qualifying for health insurance is better than being denied for pre-existing conditions.

And in a bigger, more philosophical sense, compromise may be the best place to find ourselves.  A few months ago, I had a brief conversation with a friend about abortion.  She is pro-life, anti-choice, or whatever names you want to call her.  I am pro-choice, pro-abortion or whatever names you want to call me.  As we realized this, I said: If you believe that life begins at conception, what else can you believe in?  How can you ever support abortion? Because I understand that.  I may not agree with it, but I GET it.

But we looked for common ground.  Because we are friends.  We looked for compromise that didn’t compromise our fundamental beliefs — which meant we had to search diligently for ideas and actions that satisfied both:

  • We wish for less unwanted pregnancies.
  • We wish for more support by family and friends for pregnant women and new mothers.
  • We wish for an end to rape and incest.

We wish for the best in humanity.  And we can support various organizations and friends and family in our lives to accomplish these.

Perhaps compromise is about finding our common humanity.  Because if my friend and I both go to an abortion rally, we won’t spit or yell profanities or hit each other.  We will wave.  And meet in the middle.  And talk.  And laugh.  And be friends.  Maybe others would join us.  Isn’t that what Congress used to look like?

If you truly believe that a capitalist model leads to more entrepreneurship and higher healthcare standards, how can you support universal health care?  I understand that.  I may not agree with it when it comes to healthcare, but I understand it.

Perhaps a compromised health care reform can keep us together.  Maybe we can meet in the middle if we look for the common ground.  I know that I would rather have a common humanity to fall back upon than a victory rally to attend.

Maybe that is what Barack Obama promised in his campaign a year ago.  Maybe this is what 59 Democrats in the Senate will force us to do.

Obama said: We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States.  We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States.

I voted for a change we can ALL believe in.  And I am willing to compromise to find it.  Let’s meet in the middle.  And start talking.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

6 thoughts to “What’s So Awful About Compromise?”

  1. Thank you! I like what you’ve said not just because I agree with your positions politically, I do, but because I believe even more deeply in the importance of finding common ground. I hope we can all respect each other enough to look for the deeper connections, the places were compromise isn’t compromising.

  2. p.s. I live in Texas where compromise is turning into being walked on but we will still work at it. Somehow we need to get the super rich to care about the rest of us but that is another discussion.
    love, Marge

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