Let’s demand compromise

Choose candidates who will govern responsibly

By The Mercury

We would like to propose a simple solution to the absurd display in Washington. It’s going to involve you.

As you know, Congress this past week failed to agree on a budget or even a half-measure to keep the government in business. As a result, the federal government partially shut down, eliminating services and putting government employees in limbo. That includes thousands of Manhattan-area citizens.

Now an even more serious deadline is approaching. If Congress fails to make a deal on the so-called “debt ceiling” by the middle of this month, interest rates could spike and the economy could suffer real and lasting damage

But the simple solution we’re proposing is not a policy prescription or even a list of instructions for members of Congress or the Obama administration.

Rather, it’s a request of you, dear reader. And it’s very simple:

Please, when the next elections come around, insist that candidates pledge their willingness to compromise to get things done.

That’s it. Period.

We realize that’s not the type of thing that puts fire in the belly. Nobody is going to march down Poyntz Avenue with signs reading “Moderation!” or chanting “What do we want? COMPROMISE. When do we want it? Well, whenever everybody agrees!”

But it’s spectacularly important. Stick with us for a minute.

It seems to us that we elect people to do a job. We hire them, in essence.

Their job involves standing up for principles, to be sure, and looking out for local interests. But for goodness’ sake, a basic assumption is that our elected representatives’ job involves running the government.

That means that they have to compromise. They have to make deals; they have to give a little to get a little. They have to keep in mind that their jobs involve actual responsibility, rather than gamesmanship or constant electioneering. Otherwise, we end up off in the ditch somewhere, which accurately describes our current position.

But that means voters have to make it clear that they care about such things. In recent years, all the incentives have pointed elected officials toward absolutism.

Compromise is a dirty word — it means essentially “sacrificing one’s beliefs” or even “consorting with the enemy.” Congressional districts have been redrawn in such a way as to stuff them full of either conservatives or liberals. Absolutists rule the day.

So it’s an uphill battle.

Winning that battle starts with you. It doesn’t really start with our current crop of elected officials. It starts with their bosses — you.

No reason it shouldn’t. While its national reputation is shaky at best at the moment, Kansas is historically a pretty pragmatic place, and our view is that Manhattan is full of reasonable people. Something might as well start here.

But you have to make it a priority. Demand compromise. Demand a commitment to responsibility. For lack of a better word, demand that your elected officials behave like adults, and do the job that they’re hired to do.

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