To the Editor:
The U.S. is becoming ungovernable. Consisting basically of two political parties, each committed to uncompromising, fight-to-the-death allegiance to its own extreme philosophy, conservative versus progressive, civilized society will be the inevitable victim. An increasingly dysfunctional Congress, driven by the uncompromising bright lines demanded by deep-pocketed lobbyists, has only grown more unrepresentative and eventually will trigger violent revolt barring dramatic change.
The problem is not the existence of polar philosophical extremes. These will, in time, be seen as inevitable – according to psychosocial research, a hard-wired genetic feature of how human brains are organized – about a quarter of us prewired to be conservative and cautious, about a quarter liberal and adventurous and about half pushed in random directions by life experiences. That by itself doesn’t make us ungovernable. What makes us ungovernable is our unwillingness to negotiate and compromise, to work through differences and find middle ground, given this basic dichotomous fact of life. Compromise is not a dirty word. It is an essential fact of social life.
Nor is the solution to this problem electing representatives already holding moderate, middle-of-the-road positions. In any effective negotiation, you must start from a somewhat extreme position and work toward middle ground, occasionally a compromise, more often a trade-off. If you represent me, I want you to start negotiating from where I stand – way over here on the left, everybody understanding that isn’t where you will end up. Your only commitment to me should be a willingness to start with my values, but, more important, to negotiate across the aisle in good faith to come up with compromises or trade-offs with which both sides can live in peace.
Current campaign financing militates for uncompromising ideological outcomes creating clear winners and clear losers.
This clearly is destructive of democracy – and maybe even civilization. Public campaign financing is the only rational approach to electing those who will represent the public. Write your congresspersons in support of public campaign financing.
Donovan C. Wilkin