Derek Gentile: Compromise is the key to democracy



Like everyone else, I've been keeping track of the federal government shutdown that recently ended.

I know people who work for the federal government (including, interestingly enough, Republicans), so I'm glad it's over and they will be getting back to work.

There is some jubilation on one side, some resentment on the other, and that's understandable.

I'm not going too far in either direction. I remember as the whole thing unfolded, I was kind of hoping there was something I didn't understand about this shutdown.

I don't think there was. When it started, the only way it really could have ended, at least how I saw it, was how it ended. Even if you're not wild about the Affordable Care Act, the notion that the Republicans opposed to it could make it go away by stopping the country from functioning didn't seem to make a lot of sense.

But, whatever. It's over, at least until January, when we may go through this all again.

My fear is for the splitting of the Republican Party.

Yes, I know, I work for a liberal newspaper, so I'm supposed to be a liberal person. And for the most part, I am.

But I don't disagree with everything the Republican Party espouses, just as I don't agree with everything Democrats support. And you know what? I'll bet beehives to a barn dance I'm not alone.

Still, I can't support the philosophy that if a certain group of people don't get their way, everything stops. I understand that people may disagree with me. They may disagree with the government. That's good. That's the essence of this country.

Which means that underlying that essence is the art of compromise.

Look, I see where the more radical elements of the Republican party are coming from. Taxes don't seem to be going down anytime soon. The budget deficit, while under a trillion dollars for the first time since 2008, is still a lot of money. The national debt is probably going to be about $22 trillion by the time President Obama leaves office.

But the one thing I do not want to see is a group of people trying to stop the government. Like it or not (and clearly, a lot of people aren't wildly happy with the situation), government is still the best way out of these situations.

One of the advantages of being a reporter is that I see how government works, usually at a local level. And it works pretty well, believe it or not.

What you also realize is that, even on a local level, there are different constituencies with different agendas and different needs. So our locally elected leaders also have to figure out ways to at least try to make everyone happy.

It certainly doesn't work out that way every time. But I don't see how to move forward without compromise.

And if one party espouses no compromise, I don't see how it can survive.

There are moderate Republicans like John McCain and Chris Christie for whom I might vote if they ran for office here. They are people who understand and know how to make the system work for them. But they are being marginalized by more radical Republicans.

That's concerning. I think what's wrong with the country is that far too many people don't have any confidence that government works for them. And far too few people understand that the infrastructure of our country -- roads, police, mail delivery, utilities, and a lot of other things --works pretty well.

So shutdowns don't impress me. Compromise does. My suspicion is that I'm not alone.


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