Americans Agree Compromise Is Needed

Error message

  • Notice: Undefined index: taxonomy_term in similarterms_taxonomy_node_get_terms() (line 518 of /home/swiftcounty/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 0 in similarterms_list() (line 221 of /home/swiftcounty/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 1 in similarterms_list() (line 222 of /home/swiftcounty/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
admin's picture

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

We will start off this column with a couple of surveys that illustrate how much many Americans agree on two controversial topics and another one that says most of us want Congress to compromise to get things done on many of the critical issues facing the U.S.

Two-thirds of Americans want stricter gun controls in general. But when it comes to universal background checks, the nation’s voters are nearly unanimous with 97 percent saying they are needed. Even 97 percent of gun owners approve of universal background checks, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll.

A solid majority, 67 percent, favors a ban on assault-style weapons like the AR-15 used in the mass murder of 14 students and three faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, Feb. 14.

Another survey shows that 76 percent of American voters favor providing a path to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. The Harvard CAPS-Harris poll showed that even 63 percent of Republicans are in favor.

DACA recipients, sometimes called Dreamers, are the children of immigrants, most just small children when they were brought to America by their parents. Many know no other country than America as their home. An estimated 700,000 young people in the United States qualify for DACA status but are in danger of being thrown out of this country by President Trump’s plan to end DACA and the Republicans’ inaction to give them permanent status.

On these two critical issues most Americans seem in agreement, so why can’t Congress act to implement laws that solve the problems they pose? Polarization. Members of Congress are pushed so far to the left and right that they can’t reach a compromise.

Republicans are especially handicapped on these issues fearing they will lose a primary in their party should they compromise with Democrats. This is true despite negotiating laws that reflect the sentiments of a large percentage of the general public. Only about 10 to 12 percent of eligible voters turn out in primaries, and this small group tends to reflect the farthest right, and left, tendencies of their parties. To be on the general election ballot means pleasing the base. As a result, we have gridlock in Washington, D.C.

Another survey recently released by the Indiana University Center on Representative Government finds that “a decisive majority - 60 percent - say that members of Congress should compromise with their opponents to get something done.” However, 40 percent believe that their elected officials in Congress should stand by the principles that got them elected rather than compromise. This 40 percent, unfortunately, is likely made up of a lot of the people who show up at primary elections.

 “The public really does expect and want Congress to find a way to get things done through the art of compromise, which is of course under assault every day in our modern Congress.” Edward G. Carmines, Distinguished Professor, Warner O. Chapman Professor of Political Science and Rudy Professor at IU, said.

However, despite the polling showing Americans want their elected officials to compromise to get something done in Congress, as citizens we become ever more polarized. The national television news media is mostly at fault for pushing us to the edges of the political debate.

Depending on whether you watch any of the 24-hour news programming stations that include Fox News, MSNBC, or CNN, you get alternate views of reality every day. The news you get on ABC, NBC and CBS tend to be somewhat more balanced. Without a doubt, the most balanced broadcast news provided to citizens every day can be found on the hour-long Public Broadcasting System (PBS) News Hours – despite the vilification of public broadcasting by many on the far right.

The internet has some good news sources that are balanced but is also a medium laced with hyper-slanted news, conspiracy theories, and of course, fake stories that are intended to inflame our passions and sow discontent. Too many people tend to search out the news that supports their points of view, and believe it, whether it makes sense or not.

One example of this is the assertion heard on Fox News and right-wing web sites that if the FBI would have been more focused on the Florida high school killer they might have prevented the shooting. We’ve heard people in Benson tell us this. But it ignores the fact that the FBI has 35,000 employees spread across the United States. Only a tiny number of the FBI’s people in D.C. are involved with special counsel Bob Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 elections and many of those people are attorneys not agents.

 “Given a choice between the paths of cooperation or legislative gridlock, ‘the public wants to encourage members of Congress to compromise, so that they can get the government to move forward and deal with some of the major challenges facing the country,” Michael M. Sample, IU vice president for public affairs and government relations and director of the Center on Representative Government, said.

If we want Congress to compromise on the issues the majority of us agree need addressing, we have to help it by making an effort ourselves to be less partisan, more understanding of differing points of view, and much more discerning in assessing the truth of the news we read, listen to and watch. We also have to ensure that moderate candidates get elected to office by showing up at primary elections.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet