“Compromise”

David Leonardt shows us how far we and our Congress have sunk into polarized partisanship, by proposing a “compromise”: If Republicans would stop trying to ram through secret health care bills in the middle of the night, Democrats would stop obstructing nominations at the highest rate in our history. Just let that sink in for a moment, and notice that we are very far from being a functioning polity.

We all like to think of ourselves as heroes in our own stories. But as polarized partisans, left and right, we are not heroes. More nearly, we are some sort of co-dependents who enable each other to persist in destructive and self-destructive behavior. Crucially, we supply each other with a Boogie Man who can be be vilified and demonized in the attempt to mobilize our respective bases and contributors.

As polarized partisans, we are likely to regard ourselves as combatants. We fail to see how we also are collaborators, who work together to make it impossible to govern ourselves.

The USA is not some invulnerable edifice that will remain standing no matter how long or how hard we fight with each other. More nearly, it is a fragile set of traditions and understandings that we can destroy—and arguably are destroying– by unrestrained partisan conflict.

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