Democratic politics, which represents conflicting points of view, cannot produce change without some mutual accommodation. Similarly, the compromise to avoid the fiscal cliff, brokered by Vice President Biden and Senate Majority Leader McConnell in the waning hours ofwas immediately met with intense criticism of both the content of the agreement and the tactics of the negotiators — despite consensus on the need to compromise and the overwhelming Senate vote in favor of the agreement.
The uncompromising mindset can be kept in check by an opposite cluster of attitudes and arguments--the compromising mindset--that inclines politicians to adapt their principles and respect their opponents.
In this survey, we update our long-standing trend on whether it is more important to protect gun rights or control gun ownership. Michael Ignatieff, the leader of the Liberal Party in the Canadian Parliament and also a well-known author of books on among other topics political ethics, succinctly articulates this position when he says: "Sometimes sacrificing my judgment to theirs is the essence of my job.
But it is more than that. We have suggested why the general value of compromise needs to be better appreciated in governance. The problem for compromise is that the campaign does not end the day after the election; in American democracy it has become in effect permanent.
Political compromise today
Given the inevitable uncertainty of motives in legislative negotiations, and the near certainty that the motives are at least partly political, the circumstances are singularly ripe for distrust. If they never break the promises, their compromises will be infrequent and their efforts to improve over the status quo are likely to falter. Most of the major material interests at issue in democratic politics--such as the fiscal health of social security, the extension of unemployment insurance, and the provision of foreign aid--are similarly inseparable from fairness, equity, and other core principles of justice. Such incoherence can be an indication that the democratic process respects opposing principles and values. The process in which they exercise that right presupposes at least a minimal form of mutual respect, understood as a reciprocal positive regard shared by citizens that helps a democracy endure in the face of irresolvable moral disagreement. Although all who supported this compromise evidently believed the legislation would be better than the status quo, they also believed that the compromise bill could have been still better if only their opponents had been more reasonable. The answer to the question of what would have happened if one's side had resisted more strongly depends on a complex set of counterfactual assumptions that are hard to assess objectively at any time. This is not only a strategic imperative but also a moral requirement. Recognizing the distinctive logic of each is an essential step toward making more space for desirable compromises, and restoring a better balance between campaigning and governing in the democratic process. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard. If compromise is so important to the functioning of our government, what can we say about how people — citizens — view compromise? Each has its place in the democratic process. If a compromise really is an improvement, then the compromising mindset opens up opportunities for achieving greater justice.
Principled prudence should not be mistaken for being unprincipled. People are far more certain about their principles than they are about probabilities, and judgment therefore tends to be driven more by principles.
Showdown at Gucci Gulch. Compromise is necessary and desirable in a democracy — most Americans usually agree. Much of the resistance to compromise lies in another necessary part of democracy: campaigning for political office.
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