Earlier this week, upon his return from brain surgery and a deadly brain tumor diagnosis, John McCain gave a powerful speech to the body he has been a part of for 30 years for the deterioration of the procedures and rules that have held the upper chamber of Congress together for so long. He was all too right. The Senate had devolved into political scheming so much so that a bill that could rewrite 1/6th of the American economy was released just 2 hours ahead of a vote that would take place at 1:30 a.m. After all of the hooplah, McCain showed he cared more about the people he was elected to represent (as well as Sens. Collins and Murkowski), and voted to keep the signature law of the man who beat him for the highest office in the country. With his actions, he passed on a simple message: cut the shit, it’s time to run the country like adults.
After this healthcare fiasco, both sides claimed the other refused to work with them to come to a compromise, although neither side actually asked to work with the other. It’s now time to start over, with healthcare and with many more pressing issues, and get working with a little element of democracy called compromise.
Compromise has been a part of American democracy from the start. The ground rules of our nation laid out in the constitution are a mix of compromises. For goodness sakes, the part of the constitution that creates the House and Senate in the forms they are was a compromise between the big and small states. From the time our government was established, compromise was the way to go about passing key legislation. You gave some, you got some, and the country kept moving. But somehow, in the recent polarization of our political system, compromises have completely disappeared.
America is divided in many ways. Yes, we’re divided by liberals and conservatives, but we’re more so divided by rural and urban, by rich and poor, and by millennials and baby boomers. And for some of these groups to get what they want, they’ll have to give a little. You get out what you put in. Most people would apply that sentiment to relationships, but it can apply to politics just as well. Let’s take a look at a very relevant example in Colorado.
Over the past few years, Colorado has seen amazing economic growth that has been accompanied by a population boom. However, the beneficiaries of this growth have been on the front range, particularly in the Denver metro area. Growth has been stagnant elsewhere.
As growth continues around Denver, infrastructure has to adapt to the added population. This means we need more money to fund our roads and highways so they can hold the expected 100,000 more people over the next 3 years. Meanwhile, in rural Colorado, they don’t care about traffic in Denver. They want broadband connections to their young people will be willing to grow new businesses in their hometowns, and keep the rural areas alive. But again, the front range doesn’t care about this.
(As bizarre as this could sound, I’m totally serious about this as an issue. A couple of weeks ago, I was visiting a friend who lives in a mountain town 4 and a half hours from Denver. For most of the weekend, the cell services for all AT&T phones was down. Apparently, this isn’t too bizarre. Cell services and broadband connection can go out for days on end there (and in other areas like this across the state). 2 days later, I’m back sitting in traffic on I-25, whining to myself about it. This is very real, and both issues need fixing.)
The answer should appear obvious here (especially with how I set this up): rural Coloradans should back transportation improvements in Denver in exchange for solid, reliable broadband connections being made possible for everyone who wants or needs them across the state. In the end, everyone gets what’s needed in they’re regions, and they’re grateful to the other regions for supporting this, helping to bridge the divide between the two very different parts of the state. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what I call a compromise.
Let’s start at small levels. Local, state, less important federal issues. Once it becomes the norm again, we won’t know the difference. And hey, maybe we’ll usher in a new, better era of American politics and democracy.