Perhaps you’ve noticed that people seem less likely to support political compromise. Rather, they appear to be more interested in insisting that politicians –- particularly ones who hold strong religious beliefs -– stick to their guns on controversial issues.
A new study confirms this. It was done by a nonpartisan research organization named Public Agenda and it shows that fewer Americans in 2004 supported compromise than the number who did four years earlier. You can find the whole study at http://tinyurl.com/642be.
The study shows that people who regularly attend worship services are least likely to support political compromise, although nearly three-fourths of Americans still do favor its use when necessary.
Compromise used to be accepted as a necessity to make any progress at all on political issues. But increasingly it seems to be viewed as an evil, or at least a dishonorable action.
I don’t want to argue that compromise is always good or that one should compromise on crucial or core principles. No, each of us must know what we believe and must strive to implement those beliefs. But we also must leave room for the possibility that we’re wrong on some things and that others may have something to teach us. I frankly have had it up to here with people who are utterly convinced they’re right about everything and, beyond that, that they’re doing the Lord’s work – often having been personally deputized by God.
We need not compromise on principles but that doesn’t mean we can’t compromise on ways and means of achieving the goals our principles suggest.
This new study is distressing because it seems to verify anecdotal evidence that people increasingly have no stomach for reasonable dialogue in search of common ground. If this no-compromise trend continues, it spells nothing but trouble for the body politic.
To read my weekly column in the Faith section of The Kansas City Star and my other work, go to www.kansascity.com and click on “FYI” on the left side of the opening page. Then click on “Faith” or on my name.