Politics is the art of compromise: you give so that you might receive. That is how it works. Or at least how it is supposed to work. In my youth, I saw the world in more absolute terms and was generally never willing to compromise, especially when it came to principles: I was right, others were wrong…or at least confused. As I gained more experience, I began to understand that I could disagree with people while still recognizing that they had legitimate needs and wants. I also developed a better understanding of compromise. This is not to say that I always compromise. There are, I contend, points upon one must not compromise. After all, for some things, the price is far too high. However, the deficit ceiling is not one of these things.
The Republicans have largely become obsessed with not raising taxes. Ever. The Democrats have also embraced an unwillingness to compromise. Obama was more willing to compromise, but has decided that he will not accept any temporary solution. As such, politics is at a standstill because the players cannot give up something in order to gain.
I do understand the Republican desire to not raise taxes. No one ever wants to pay more taxes and their pledge appeals to anyone who is taxed. Of course, their apparently absolutist approach is fundamentally flawed: there are times in which raising taxes is a necessity because the alternative is far worse. Unless, of course, one regards the raising of taxes as the greatest of all evils. This, however, seems wildly implausible. I do understand Obama’s desire to avoid yet another temporary solution. After all, this problem should be fixed in a more lasting way, otherwise they will just have to go back and duct tape the mess all over again. That said, there are times when a temporary solution is an acceptable option-especially when it comes to political matters. Perhaps, given time, the Republicans will be willing to allow some tax cuts to expire or they will be willing to get rid of certain tax breaks or subsidies, thus allowing a tax increase under the magical blur of semantics.
Alternatively, everyone could just stick to their commitments and let America reap the consequences. That would certainly teach us for electing these folks.