The short version: No.
The longer version: I see people on Facebook and Twitter talk gratefully about the election being over and saying it is time for healing, reconciliation, and compromise. I find myself wondering whether they were paying attention during the campaigns, during the last congressional session, during the last 30 years.
First, I completely support healing. People have been working hard in the face of some ugly opposition to make our world better. That’ll net you some bruises. Take time to sleep, exercise, have some fun, get to know your friends again. Take time to heal those bruises if you’ve got them.
If you’re talking about reconciling relationships, however, ask yourself what you’re doing. Are you gearing up to apologize to someone who you feel was arguing from a good place when you got a bit testy with them? Are you mending family bonds that are important to the kids in the connection? Are you letting back into your life someone who’s spent the last several months telling the world that your rights matter less than theirs? Are you accepting one more apology from someone who gets abusive every time you discuss something you disagree on?
The differences matter. Not everyone is someone who should be in your life if you want a decent life. Sometimes strife is freedom.
Sometimes too, reconciliation is mere capitulation. Okay, you can be friends with that person again, but only if you agree to shut up about your political beliefs in the election off-season. If you’re willing to be apolitical for all but the last months out of an election cycle, that may not seem like much of a sacrifice. On the other hand, if you cared about these issues enough to talk about the election, why would you want to step back and leave it all up to the politicians now?
Compromise isn’t necessarily capitulation, at least by definition. The truth is, however, that compromise has long since ceased being an option for many on the right. I can’t say why for certain. They’ve gotten used to winning. They’ve gotten more religious–and “righteous” along with that. They’ve become increasingly beholden to a few very rich people, mostly men, for their funding. None of those make for easy compromise.
Whatever the reason, the elected right wing has gotten further right on many things, and they’ve coupled that with a refusal to budge. Attempts to compromise with them have only moved the rest of us more to the right. They have resulted in us capitulating to the demands of fanatics over the desires of the majority of the population.
Now isn’t the time to compromise. There is too much to be done, too much that needs to change and quickly. It is time to dig our heels in and demand that we get what we voted for. It’s even time to demand that we get some things that were never put on the plate. They told us we couldn’t re-elect Obama in a down economy, so we’ve already done the impossible. It’s time to try for more.
It’s time to look the Republicans in the eye and tell them, “No.” We won’t be alone. The electorate just did a very good job of telling them this in many, many places across the country. It’s time to tell them that the people want things to get done, and if they can’t or won’t get things done, they can sit in the corner until it’s time to go home and explain to their constituents why they did nothing. And it’s time to remind them how poorly “for the ‘job creators’” went over as a reason this time around.
That isn’t to say that there won’t or shouldn’t be bipartisan work. There will be. There always is. There are resolutions and celebrations and limit adjustments and regulation changes and legal reform work going on all the time. It doesn’t make good horse-race reporting, so you don’t hear about it, but it’s there. It will keep happening.
Compromise for the sake of compromise, however, has to stop. Bipartisanship has no fundamental value. It’s only as good as the law-making that comes out of it.
Does that mean the political fighting will go on? Yes, and it should. We have too much to lose if we don’t fight.
That doesn’t make fighting any more fun and carefree, of course. It will still be uncomfortable. It will still, after all, be a fight. However, Tuesday taught us, over and over, that these are fights we can win. Doesn’t that make them worth fighting?