In some extreme political circles “compromise” is a bad word, which makes me a wimpy moderate because I believe in compromise. Back in 2011 I wrote a column about the need to compromise in order to get things done and my late friend and fellow columnist Bob Thomas went ballistic.
“You can’t compromise with those people (Democrats),” he thundered. “Your column proves you have no principles.” Of course I was mightily offended and we didn’t speak to each other for a while, like a couple of second-graders fighting over the finger paints. We later apologized and went on to the next battle, whatever that was.
I cite my clash with Bob to illustrate a point: Some folks treat politics like an all or nothing game. In other words, I don’t win unless you lose. Well, even though I’m a bad sport and would rather win than lose, I learned a long time ago sometimes you have to cut your losses in order to achieve most of what you seek. That’s as true in life as it is in politics.
“I’m old enough to remember when House Speaker Tip O’Neill compromised with President Reagan to avoid a budget crisis, and when congressional Republicans compromised with President Clinton to reform welfare and balance the budget,” I wrote in 2011, adding the no-compromise folks tend to drive independent voters like me toward the other side of the political spectrum.
At that time I had the Tea Party in mind but since then left-wing Democrats, or “progressives,” have been just as obnoxious as the far right in insisting on their version of the “truth” on issues like climate change and police brutality. If I write there may be some question about whether humans actually cause global warming, they call me a climate change denier. Or if I write incidents involving white cops and black suspects should be considered on a case-by-case basis, I’m a racist. I reject those simplistic labels.
I was recently accused of demanding all of Nevada’s federal lands – more than 85 percent of our total territory – be turned over to the state immediately. I would never support such extreme legislation, but I do advocate federal–state negotiations to identify parcels of federal land that could be turned over to the state, similar to the recent transfer of 130,000 federal acres to five Nevada counties. Compromise promoted by Congressman Mark Amodei, a moderate Carson City Republican, made that land transfer possible, and I’d like to see more of it.
Although I question Amodei’s positions on illegal immigration and Yucca Mountain, I recognize him and Sen. Dean Heller, another moderate Republican, as legislators who are willing to compromise in order to get things done in Washington. However, the price they pay is to be labeled as “RINOs,” Republicans In Name Only. According to their critics, there’s only one “correct” way to vote on controversial issues, and that’s that.
Despite my reservations about all-day kindergarten and costly English as a Second Language (ESL) programs, I hope state lawmakers will compromise to pass all or most of Gov. Sandoval’s education reform plan so Nevada can remain competitive in the world of technology.
When Republicans nominate right-wing ideologues, they lose elections. That’s what they did in 2010 when they nominated Sharron Angle to oppose Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid instead of either of two other GOP candidates who could have defeated Reid. Tea Party people scored ideological points, but they lost a winnable election. So here’s a plea to my Republican friends: Please nominate a presidential candidate I can vote for next year. Thank you.
Guy W. Farmer has been an independent voter since 1962.