Your Opinion: Compromise needed in government

Dear Editor:

The tea party Republicans in the House of Representatives recently forced a government shutdown that cost over $20 billion and they threatened to force a default on our debt, which would have been far more costly. And they may do it all again early next year.

That the tea party would threaten the vital interests of our country (the full faith and credit behind our debt obligations) in the course of a dispute over policy (Obamacare) says something about the tea party; namely, that they do not respect a key principle of American democracy — compromise.

The tea partiers sometimes say they are acting on their own principles and thus cannot compromise. They put their own principles ahead of the welfare of the country. This kind of conduct is not what made America great.

For instance, in 1820 the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in Congress compromised on the admission of Missouri as a slave state. Missouri would be allowed in (against the principles of the anti-slave faction) if slavery were prohibited in the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase. The country survived that crisis and the Civil War was postponed for decades. Each side acted in the interests of the country, even at the expense of their principles.

The essential principles of the tea party seem to be two: their hatred of Obama and their hatred of government. The hatred of Obama as a person, independently of anything he stands for, is irrational. The hatred of government is simply anarchic; although, it is sometimes camouflaged in the rhetoric of freedom.

It is in the name of these principles that the tea party has seen fit to threaten the vital interests of the country.

Fifty years ago each party included both liberals and conservatives and this provided a preliminary stage for compromise. Now the parties are ideologically separate and confrontation first appears at the party level and is much more intense than it used to be. The fact that the tea party has obtained working control of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives makes the matter worse.

Unfortunately, things are not likely to change for decades because of the gerrymandering that has been done on both sides. The Republicans control their districts and the Democrats control theirs. It is so bad that out of 435 House districts only 35 are believed to be competitive in the 2014 elections.

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