I. The label “art of compromise” and it’s reference to
Politics is referred to as the “art of compromise”. It
survival value of compromise. Economist Donald Wittman (1995:
create coalitions and find acceptable compromises.” Also
compromise is not a mediocre way to do politics; it is an
II. Reasons why compromise is essential.
Politicians need to be able to compromise and be good
at bargaining with other elected officials. One reason is that in
negotiate with others who also want support, it’s is a trade off
in that each wants support for the their cause and in turn, must
bargaining in order to win enough support to get the votes
necessary to win for their constituents. If the constituents
don’t see that the elected official can bring home the bacon,
without compromise, nothing will be acheived for the
contituency, and as a result the official will not likely
continue to hold office for long.
By the same token, no politicians or voters, will get everything
they want. There must be a majority to implement policy, which
means that means that almost every time supporters of policy will
have to give up something of value to others in order to win
enough support for their cause. This is referred to as
“logrolling.” In order to function well, Congress needs members
who understand the need for and have the ability to compromise;
believe without demonizing their opponents, so that they may work
with them again on different issues. A politician who refuses to
compromise is typically labeled as an “ideologue”, a title which
has little prestige among members of political class.
III. Backlash of compromise and the role politics play
in regard to effectiveness of compromise.
Politicians who are known for compromise are less
adherence to principles they believe are important, and don’t
generally understand the essential need for compromise, or how
necessary it is to get things done. Because compromise is
legislator is confronted by the difficult task of being an expert
compromiser in legislatures while appearing to voters to be an
uncompromising champion of principle.
Democratic politics falls short of achieving optimal
imposed on representatives by voters, but also because it
new taxes” campaign pledge. President Bush Sr. did what comes
naturally to all politicians: compromise first and worry about
ideology later. However, his problem was he was caught in the act
unprincipled leader. He stated “The biggest mistake of my
presidency was that I damaged my credibility by agreeing to a tax
increase…I worked a compromise and it cost me plenty” (Bush
1996). However, when Ronald Reagan compromised during his
presidency, he had such refined communication skills that he was
able to deflect the public’s attention from his compromises, and
focus it instead on his proudly proclaimed ideological beliefs.
Institutional effectiveness requires officials with a relatively
which there are no final winners and should be no total losers.
IV. A voice by all is not heard.
The political bargaining table only has a limited
number of seats. While all parties at the table must compromise
amongst themselves, they are the lucky few to have a say in what
sufficient resources to attract the attentions of elected
officials. Politics is weak at compromise because politics
artificially and unnecessarily limits the number of bargaining
parties (Crew and Twight 1990; Twight 1994). Parties excluded
from the table never have their interests on the table to be
weighed against the interests of the select few sitting at
the table. The interests of unorganized groups are ignored by
political processes. Thus describing politics as the art of
compromise is misleading because the value to interest groups
using political process depends on the inability of other groups
to organize effectively and join in the bargaining. Because of
this advantage, interest groups have incentives to limit the
number of parties sitting at the table. The end result is that
the general, unorganized public typically are compromised by
institution, and does not understand the crucial role that
bargaining and compromise play, it becomes much more difficult
for politicians to make the hard choices.
Compromise is an ingredient of a democratic society
that cannot be excluded. It has helped our society to be able to
make changes, which without compromise, we could not have
benefited from the positive effects of had it not been possible
to compromise with others. Compromise does have it’s pitfalls,
and it is restrained for two basic reasons. First, the
indecisiveness of each voter’s vote in democratic elections
causes voters to vote too ideologically, and voters reward
politicians for supporting policies consistent with ideological
beliefs, whether or not such policies pass any reasonable
voters keeps politicians from compromising as openly and fully as
they otherwise would. Second, political decision making is too
sensitive to special interest groups, and too insensitive to
unorganized groups. That is not everyone who is being affected by
policy decisions is having a say in what is being considered.
Thus, although compromise does weigh in heavily in support of the
processes of a democratic society, it is not without fault, and
does neglect a large part of the public’s interests by not
allowing them the representation they deserve to have a voice
about all policy making which goes on behind closed doors, and
away from public view. However, compromise should be more open
for our society to be considered a true democracy.
Bush, G. (1996) “Notable & Quotable.” In Wall Street
Journal, 26 January: A10.
Crew, M.A., and Twight, C. (1990) “On the Efficiency of
Law: A Public Choice Perspective.” Public Choice
Elshtain. J.B. (1995) Democracy on Trial. New York:
Sinclair, B. (1996) Vote for Me: Politics in America.
American Political Science Association, September,
Wittman, D.A. (1995) The Myth of Democratic Failure.
Chicago: University of Chicago