Compromising on controversy


Spencer Klink

T he 2020 presidential election will most certainly be divisive.
Liberals have already demonstrated a lack of unity for this upcoming election, with 19 Democratic candidates in the running. Beyond the Democratic Party, President Donald Trump’s controversial first term has generated a new wave of political polarization throughout the entire nation.

The end result of these divisions is the creation of a fragile state of American politics that is not conducive to sustained dialogue and political agreements.

Unwillingness to meet halfway is certainly an issue among younger generations. Only 46 percent of millennials voted in the 2016 Democratic Election, according to National Public Radio, demonstrating their unwillingness to back candidates whose platforms are not completely aligned to their beliefs.

Although 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign goals did not mesh perfectly with the political values of most millennials, Trump, the antithesis of all their views, ended up winning. How is that logical or beneficial?

To keep it short: it’s not. In fact, the “my way or the highway” mindset is short-sighted for this exact reason; the unwillingness to vote or compromise on some issues cedes the political sphere to more flawed candidates who rely on a sense of disunity to build their campaign and win votes.

The end result is that addressing significant problems, like the lack of healthcare coverage for millions of people or unbearable debt from student loans, becomes even more challenging, since leaders who disregard these problems altogether step into office.

But not all hope is lost for American politics. Through strategic political compromises, individuals can push the envelope of what is accepted and help pave the way to a more unified future.

Yes, this disconnect between what people want and what politicians advocate for is unfortunate. In an ideal world, there is no need for politicians to meet in the middle, as they can meet all of the needs of their constituents. However, glossing over this political reality will leave oppressed populations with even fewer resources to handle the issues they face.

It is very easy to conflate political compromise with an over-reliance on gradualism, but these two are fundamentally distinct; making strategic concessions is necessary to sway moderate voters, increase collaboration between parties and ultimately produce the broad structural changes the United States needs.

Compromise does not produce spineless politicians who cower in the face of adversary: it generates representatives with a greater willingness to listen and engage with other political parties and to make appropriate political changes.

There is a reason why even Marxist scholars like Jodi Dean, professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, write about the necessity of scaling up to political demands through acts of compromise as opposed to perpetually waiting for sweeping reforms; it is because making concessions is an important and necessary aspect of contemporary American politics.

So for the upcoming presidential election, when most of us will be filling our first ballots, it is important to consider not only candidates’ platforms but also the feasibility of their political goals and their odds of being elected. The alternative is four more years of instability and dissatisfaction.