Constructive political compromise -- possible? Desirable?

Something I heard on NPR this morning, I don’t remember what, triggered a thought about a possible presidential candidate (for example) whose platform had the over-arching theme of bipartisanship first, and specific programs second. Someone who was wholly dedicated to reducing partisanship and accepting that “the other side” does, sometimes, have a point, and then acting (or at least proposing actions) accordingly. This candidate would have as their first principle the cooling off of the body politic.

Could you support such a candidate? Is nuance possible any more, where people try to actually understand what motivates and drives the opposition (without making stuff up), and are willing to sit down to consider actual constructive compromise?

I’ve read lots of liberals who claim, perhaps rightly, that conservatives (I’m using these terms broadly, so please don’t nitpick) are dying out and eventually liberals will be victorious all the time everywhere. And I think about what happens if that’s true. Do the victors tell people who aren’t in the majority “sorry, sucks to be you” or do they try something more inclusive? Do they engage in triumphalism or something else?

I’m not sure if I’m getting across what I’m trying to ask. We are living in a time of internecine hatred that I don’t remember in the 55 or so years when I have been aware of such things (I am 70). Can we step back from that? Is anyone willing to take that first step, without expecting anything in return? It seems to me that the alternative is too dire to contemplate.

I remember now what triggered these thoughts. A commentator alleged that children raised with hatred of any kind are more susceptible to extremist philosophies and actions. That, it seems to me, is the road we are headed down.

“It’s the other side that’s riddled with hatred, not us. And I hate them for that!” Do you? Can you not? Is hatred the only outcome from where we are now?

I’ve put this in Great Debates because that’s the kind of discussion I hope to have. I don’t, however, have an assertion to debate except, perhaps, that compromise is not a dirty word. It doesn’t mean that one side has to give in to the other side on every issue, it means that both sides give in at least a little on at least a few issues. It means that scoring political points becomes secondary to taking care of the nation’s needs. It means a different way of doing things from anything I’ve seen since the turn of the century (if not before).

Is this possible? Is it desirable?

It takes two to tango. Trump and the rest of the Republican Party have zero interest in this.

Unfortunately, I find this unlikely in politicians in the near term.

I don’t think compromise on really big issues is possible right now. I don’t think it’s an equal “all sides do it” thing either. I think it’s the Republican Party that is more dug in and uncompromising. So, on issues like healthcare, climate change, and even infrastructure, they don’t seem willing to do deals anymore.

I’d love to see compromise. But both parties have to be willing to govern. I haven’t seen that in a while from one of the sides. Let’s be real here. Do you think a party that nominated Donald Trump is capable of compromise in good faith?

And if you’re watching Democratic debates, I’d be wary of any candidate who talks as if they’ll be able to cross aisles with the current Republican party. If they think that, they’re not paying attention.

These answers are not unexpected, although I was hoping for something more … hopeful.

Since we have only heard from one side so far, let’s ask this a different way.

Suppose your side wins the presidency and both houses in 2020. How do you govern? Do you do whatever you want and pay no attention at all to the opposition, or do you try to include them in some meaningful way? And if you pick the first option, do you think that’s a sustainable way to govern?

I think on big issues, you need to try and implement the policy as you campaigned. So, if someone is elected, and has a congress in his corner (or her corner), then he/she should not get too side-tracked with bipartisan worries. To me, chasing bipartisanship on huge domestic issues is like chasing the golden unicorn. The caveat there is if the filibuster occurs in the Senate. At that point, you’re forced to play ball with moderates from the other party - if they exist - or to pass bills using reconciliation. If a Democrat wins with both houses, but not a filibuster-proof Senate, then I would try to craft an ACA-fix bill and do reconciliation to get it passed.

There are a couple of issues where both sides can work together occasionally. I think this includes trade policy, and somewhat on foreign policy. Those are actually big issues, but there are occasionally glimmers of light…and even on those issues, the glimmers are weaker and weaker over time.

Go back to 2008 and ask that question. I think Obama sacrificed his whole presidency on this point. The Republicans said publicly that their only goal was to prevent Obama from winning reelection. Obama was a slightly rewarmed Republican health care proposal. But not one single Republican supported it and now they are trying their damnedest to destroy it in the courts. Had Obama known what was coming he could have put in a real medicare for all plan with his 60 votes in the senate. Now anything like that is dead for a generation. If anything, the Republicans are even less interested in compromise now than they were 10 years ago.

If you plan a date and say “I’d like to have Italian tonight” but your date says “I’d prefer tire rims and anthrax”, where does the compromise in that lie? Have tire rims with marinara? No, you reject the crazy-pants suggestions and don’t worry about the myth of bipartisanship in an era where one of the major parties is insane.

The entire concept of politics is about compromising for the greater good, if you are not doing that you are doing something else.

One thing I would add is that what I see very frequently is that the same people who see the other as being unwilling to make compromises or listen to a different viewpoint are more often than not the same that come down like a ton of bricks on anyone on their side trying to do reach a compromise or see the other’s point of view.

If you want politics to work start by weeding out hypocrisy of that kind.

Mitt Romney — If he were a Democrat running for President he’d have my support.

John Kasich — I detest every single one of his political opinions and wouldn’t like to imagine him as President. But he honestly believes in his ideology and wants what’s best for America. Bravo.

The Bushes: George, Dubya and Jeb — I thought Dubya’s Presidency was an abomination. But he was a good-spirited patriot. He didn’t try to sell out America for a few pieces of silver. And this family had the gumption to oppose what the GOP has transmogrified into.

But 95% of today’s Republicans are dominated by hatred, lies and greed. And fully support an obvious criminal, fraudster and traitor.

What would “bipartisan compromise” with such an ilk even mean? Only lock half the asylum-seeking babies in cages? Plan to send men back to the Moon as a foolish publicity stunt, but save money by not bringing them back? Let women get abortions only in alternating months? Waste $5 trillion on tax cuts for the rich instead of $10 trillion? Force voters in D-leaning precincts to wait 3 hours to vote instead of 6 hours? Prattle lies about Hillary et al only on weekdays, not on weekends too?

I ask OP: Do you support compromise with the Ku Klux Klan?
Do you support compromise with the American Communist Party?
Do you support compromise with the American Nazi Party?
Do you support compromise with ISIS?
Why in heaven’s name would we compromise with the abomination that has usurped the name of the once-great Party of Abe Lincoln?

From this board alone, this is what you will get. Fingers in ears and them telling you that “they do it worse”, " they started it" but very very very little of anyone saying that they believe that is the case, much less them saying that they would be willing to work.

You’ll get 100 examples of how “THEY did this, now we get to”

It’s a sad state to be in but here we are.

BTW, I agree with you 100% and have posted as such many times on these boards over the years.

I will add, that the POLITICIANS and those fervent followers are the ones ruining, and running the country. I wish that we could strip politics of all the monetary benefits that have grown over the years.

We need to acknowledge that not every Republican is a reprobate. It’s better to turn criticism toward individuals and certain factions instead of the entire party. This country needs the Republican party—we just need it to send the “deplorables” packing. And IMO, there are many GOPers who feel the same way.

For now the best thing to do is: do not support, do not vote for this current manifestation of the GOP. Help the historical GOP (currently known ironically as RINOs) get their voice back by dealing big losses to the current crop of Satan’s Little Brown-nosers.

Trump got elected because a lot of knuckle-dragging Deplorables voted for him but also because a lot of good, sensible Republicans voted “Anyone But Hillary”. If Liberals are honest we might admit some ambivalence about our voting choice if a criminal Democratic version of Trump were poised against some hated Republican (say McConnell). But no one would ever admit the possibility of a Liberal ever voting for anyone with less than impeccable morals. (cough).

There are 2 big obstacles to bipartisanship today:

  1. Both sides are convinced the other side is out to screw them. “Bipartisanship” sounds less like cooperation for national good and more like “They will bend us over while we provide the lube.”

  2. Humans naturally tend to perceive things as slanted against them; the referee effect. In the same way that a ref can officiate fairly 50/50 but fans of both teams think the ref was 30% for and 70% against their team, you can have Democrats and Republicans meet at a table and come away with an agreement that splits things 50/50 but both sides think that they walked away with a deal that gave too much to the other side and too little to theirs.

We always hear that the only good Republicans are the ones safely in the past. As soon as a Republican leader is shuffled off into death or retirement, they become the model of sanity and restraint, unlike today’s candidates who are all nuts.

A couple years after Trump leaves the national stage you will hear, “I didn’t like Trump, but at least he is not a crazy warmonger/unrepentant racist like these current candidates”

This is what you say now. This sure wasn’t what Democrats were saying about him in 2012.

Who knew at that time that the Republicans would decide that the best tool to use when stuck in a moral/ethical pit would be a steam shovel?

That’s because that year they were busy telling us how they would have happily supported John McCain.

When I was learning to drive, there was a rather narrow busy 2-lane street near our house. When I was driving alone with my mother she said I was too close to the parked cars. When I was driving alone with my father he said I was too close to the center line. Even at 15 I figured out I must be doing it about right.

My attitude towards a centrist, bi-partisan, compromise approach to national politics is that we need someone who wants to and who can make it work. I might still agitate for a more liberal answer to issues than the compromise position, but I would still celebrate any moves in my direction.

I think it’s a mistake to call the entire Republican party corrupt or insane. There is plenty of corruption to go around in both parties; I don’t think it’s the fault of the ideology, it’s the fault of there being so much money in it, as Kearsen 1 mentioned. Reform of the things that allow money to rule is a genuinely bi-partisan issue that it should be possible to sell to the voters.

One issue I would like to talk about is the possibility of understanding what it is that the other guy really wants. You don’t do this by throwing brickbats or cherry-picking the most outrageous thing you can find. You do it by asking, and listening, and validating that you heard correctly. For example, some Trump supporters like him because he is so clearly not a politician. This is more important to them than policies or issues they don’t really understand, but because they are so sick and tired of politicians who, by and large, talk out of one side of their mouths while acting completely differently. They seem to like that they can often understand where he is coming from and what he wants. The idea that what he wants is not good for the country doesn’t seem to resonate as much.

So how do you address that? By calling them names? Their dislike of regular politicians is very understandable to me. There’s a way of talking that instantly says “politician weasel words” to me. The way to address that is to meet the need with an outspoken and straight-speaking candidate who says plainly what they mean, and who means generally good things for the country. That’s supposed to be political suicide. I would sure like to see that proven wrong.

Of course this person would have to be smart enough not to be taken in, and strong enough not to be walked over. That’s a pretty tall order, and I rather doubt the Democrats have anyone like that in their stable this round.

Funny thing about fence-sitters: Complain about Republican shenanigans and they pop up to explain how the Democrats are somehow equally as bad…but anyone who complains about Democrats gets a free pass from them.

Let me walk back my comments a bit. I wrote
“But 95% of today’s Republicans are dominated by hatred, lies and greed.”
I should have clarified that a large fraction of GOP voters are not fully onboard the Hatred-Lies-Greed wagon: they’re just too ignorant, stupid, gullible and/or obstinate to understand that’s what the GOP has become.

Cite? Donald Trump received more votes than any other Republican candidate in history. Gopster Senators bent over backwards to put scumbags like DeVos and Kavanaugh into the highest positions of power. AFAIK only Bricker among the Board’s right-wingers voted for Hillary. (Some “conservatives” here claim to have voted for Nitwit Johnson, effectively voiding their ballot.)

Speak for yourself. I made a post in 2012 right here at SDMB defending Romney from unfair criticism. ** Bricker** even complimented me on it.