The dictionary defines COMPROMISE as “a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by the adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands”.

Our legislative structure defined by the US constitution was brought about by The Great Compromise between New Jersey and Virginia striking a bargain between the protection and rights of small states and large states

The Missouri Compromise of 1820 allowed slave states and free states to continue to coexist when neither side could get what they wanted.

Politics is often described as “the art of compromise”, an art that has given way to the politics of confrontation where domination by the majority of the moment is the only acceptable outcome. This is in spite of the fact that polls show a large majority of Americans look favorably on politicians capable of compromise.

I believe there are two reasons for this. The first is the sound bite sports journalism approach that loves a good scrap with a media that both sides believe is biased. A successful host of a political show is one who is able to interject emotions into a discussion of issues by people of different views by becoming a protagonist.

The second, and more deadly reason is an arcane bunch of rules known as campaign finance laws that skirt first amendment issues by prescribing how much and who can pay for “free speech”. The effect is to funnel campaign financing through PAC’s, each with it’s own parochial agenda and to tether beneficiaries of their largess (campaign candidates) to these agenda.

For reference, Wikipedia defines a Pac as follows:

In the US, a political action committee, or PAC, is the name commonly given to a private group, regardless of size, organized to elect or defeat government officials or to promote legislation. Legally, what constitutes a “PAC” for purposes of regulation is a matter of state and federal law. Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, an organization becomes a “political committee” by receiving contributions or making expenditures in excess of $1,000 for the purpose of influencing a federal election.

Straying from their marching orders by a candidate will result in a loss of contributions and, at worst, the financing of opposition primary candidates.

When power is divided between Democrats and Republicans, how does any legislation get passed if compromise is not an option? That’s simple – you literally rob from Peter to pay Paul. Buying a vote with a $20,000,000 earmark carries less risk than modifying your position to accommodate an opposition point of view. That’s less than a dollar from every household in America so who is going to notice. Of course to paraphrase the late Senator Dirksen, $20 mil here and $20 mil there can add up to real money and with all those votes to be purchased in a legislative session, what’s a poor congressman to do?

The result of this system is unabated corruption regardless of who is in the majority and failure to take care of America’s business in a manner that would raise poll results for approval of government above the thirty percent range.

Why do we need to live this way? It’s simple. If you build a factory to make cell phones, it is never going to make an automobile. It is the system that has given us Pelosi’s instead of Hubert Humphrey’s, that has given us Delay’s instead of Dirksen’s and has filled our legislative halls with a few unprincipled bosses dominating a passive herd who are there for the perks.

The first step toward legislative sanity is to replace all campaign finance regulations with one rule: post every contribution on the internet within twenty four hours or suffer a punishing penalty. Reporters and opposition campaign staff will most assuredly identify shady dollars.

This will open communication between voters and their elected representatives. I am tired of the fact that Alaskan caribou have more influence than I do. Those who don’t get it will be gone.

Wouldn’t it be nice, just once on a Sunday morning talk show, to hear legislator A to say to legislator B, “ I’m willing to look at opening up more territory for oil exploration if you will help me impose higher mileage standards on auto manufacturers”.

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