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Monday, March 31, 2008

Compromising Values, Tallying Votes

I’m often interested whenever I hear a candidate for any political office claim they want to bring the divergent sides together or reach an agreeable compromise. The reason my ears perk up at such a statement is usually the laughable impossibility of it all. Putting aside the natural animosity between political parties and looking merely at the issues, many of them seem to offer few avenues in the way of compromise. Take, for example, abortion. One side views it as outright murder the other as simply expunging an unwanted part of their own body. What exactly is the compromise here? A little bit of killing and a little bit government say so about your internals and everyone’s happy? Or how about Global Warming? One side sees Armageddon on the horizon and the other sees the outright collapse of our economy if proposed restrictions are put in place. What’s the middle ground policy here? Only cripple the economy rather then destroy it so Armageddon can, not be prevented, but staved off for an extra few decades?

I’ve come to believe anytime comments regarding closing the gap between the two parties are made it boils down to little more then an appeal to the median voter model. It at least makes the candidate appear as though they’re drifting to the center to collect the voters there. Compromise appeals to those in the middle who can’t pick a side, because now they no longer have to, there’s someone who offers the sheen of both political spectrums, even if the substance is questionable.

The main player making such statements in the current presidential race is undoubtedly Barrack Obama, but I’m sure if listened to close enough both Hillary and McCain could be heard making the same claims.

Our current President did the same thing several years ago. Recognizing that many had begun to view the right as draconian individuals who only cared about their pocket books and weren’t interested in the lower rungs of society in the least, he branded himself with the moniker of a “compassionate conservative,” implying he valued and held the views of both democrats and republicans. In fact a large part of his original campaign was based on this as demonstrated by further buzzwords and platitudes attached to it, such as the label of a “uniter” and someone who would “reach across the aisle.” And of course it worked, Bush captured just enough median votes to take two elections. The question now is can Obama do the same?

-Jaeson Madison

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