Another Voice: Compromise has become a lost art in Congress - The Buffalo News
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Another Voice: Compromise has become a lost art in Congress

By Scott Horton

As a citizen of the United States, it is disheartening that the House of Representatives recently decided to vote to sue the president in an unprecedented action simply because the members don’t agree with the president.

They have implied that impeachment may be the next possible step – an action that has no chance of winning the constitutionally required two-thirds majority for conviction in the Senate.

In the meantime, serious issues go unaddressed because of the partisanship in Congress.

We seem to live in a time where compromise is viewed as weakness, but if that is what we believe, we forget our own history.

The Constitution itself is a “bundle of compromises” that were reached after a long summer’s worth of debate among a wide variety of delegates.

Why did they compromise? Because they put the needs of the nation ahead of their own parochial or partisan views.

The antebellum period is replete with examples of compromises reached for the exact same reason. The politicians of those days defended their views on issues, but ultimately compromised to do what was best for the nation.

Politicians like Henry Clay and others found ways to create solutions where there didn’t seem to be any, and again put the needs of the many ahead of the needs of the few, in a paraphrase of Dr. Spock.

When the next generation of leaders could not compromise, the United States became embroiled in the Civil War, which claimed the lives of more than 600,000 American citizens, both Northern and Southern.

Our nation today faces important challenges – the ballooning federal debt and the future of Social Security to name just two.

When will Congress realize that the needs of the nation must come ahead of taking steps such as suing a president, which only amounts to symbolic posturing?

If we have stopped listening to one another, and fail to be open-minded enough to consider what agenda items are truly important to our nation rather than our party, then we are in a sad place indeed.

Perhaps John Kennedy said it best in his inaugural address when he said, “United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do – for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.”

Will we heed the lessons of our past?

Scott Horton is an adjunct professor at SUNY Buffalo State and a high school social studies teacher.

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