At the end of my post on legislating medical care, I thought about being asked, Tom, do you see no issue worth fighting for? My retort was this: Do you see no issue worth compromising for? That retort led to this thought experiment, about compromise regarding climate change.
Suppose that Democrats have proposed a joint resolution of Congress that starts by saying something like this:
Our globe is warming at an alarming rate. Fortunately, we can do something about it, because we are to a large extent causing it. We will have to go through some changes to address the problem. We should move now.
Now, Democrats, what would you offer Republicans in exchange for their votes for this resolution? And Republicans, what would you ask from Democrats in exchange for your votes for the resolution?
I suppose Democrats could say, “Nothing. Republicans will just have to get their heads on straight, accept the facts, and sign on.” Republicans could say, “Nothing. We will never compromise with Democrats on this attempt to destroy our way of life.” That’s pretty much where we are now, it seems to me.
Democrats might offer to de-authorize and de-fund the US Department of Education, or Republicans might demand that. I suppose many of us would see that as bribery or extortion, and more, as a failure of our politics, because we had to go so far beyond the scope of the issue and of the proposed legislation to achieve a compromise.
So let’s at least start within the scope of the issue and the proposed resolution. Suppose that Democrats would offer, or Republicans would ask, that the joint resolution include language along these lines:
When we collectively constrain ourselves in our own and our descendants’ interests, we should actively seek methods that minimize additions to the power of governments and that maximize the remaining freedom for individuals. (For example, if market methods will get us the same effect as regulations, we should choose the market methods, because they tend to maximize individual freedom.)
In composing that paragraph, I was trying to use one of the recommendations about “communicating in a partisan environment” that I summarized in “Global Climate Hypothesis.” The idea is to assure that the law and policy express the orientations of the stakeholders.
I don’t know if the suggested paragraph would help any Republicans to vote for the hypothetical joint resolution. I wonder if any such negotiation has been attempted. Given our polarized partisanship, I would guess not.